The Colditz Story
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|The Colditz Story|
Cinema release poster
|Directed by||Guy Hamilton|
|Produced by||Ivan Foxwell|
|Written by||Guy Hamilton
|Based on||The Colditz Story by Pat Reid|
|Music by||Francis Chagrin|
|Edited by||Peter Mayhew|
|Distributed by||British Lion Films|
It is based on the book written by Pat Reid, a British army officer who was imprisoned in Oflag IV-C, Colditz Castle, in Germany during the Second World War and who was the Escape Officer for British POWs within the castle.
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During the Second World War, British, French, Dutch and Polish Prisoners of War (POWs) (along with other nationalities), who have made unsuccessful escape attempts are sent to Oflag IV-C when they are recaptured. This Renaissance castle in Saxony in the heart of Germany, acts as a secure holding place for the most troublesome allied captives.
At first, the different nationalities try to initiate their own independent escape plans, but these cause friction and conflict. Eventually, Colonel Richmond (Portman), the Senior British Officer, steps in and suggests co-operation between the different contingents via the appointment of a number of Escape Officers. An agreement is reached and coordinated escape plans are set in motion. But soon, these too fail via early detection by the German guards. Eventually, a spy is discovered amongst the Polish captives and, after his removal, escape plans run more smoothly.
The prisoners of Colditz are high-spirited and eager to needle the Germans. There are many escape attempts made, both planned and opportune. For example, prisoners tunnel underground, leapfrog over fences during physical training, hide in mattress being taken out of the camp. Some of these escapes are successful, some are not.
A British officer Mac McGill (Rhodes) comes up with a well thought out plan to escape disguised as German officers. The planning and preparation go well, but a few days before the escape attempt McGill is confronted by Colonel Richmond. The senior officer is concerned that McGill's extreme height (he is well over 6ft) will comprise his disguise and that of his fellow escapees. McGill is devastated by this blow, though he accepts the Colonel's judgement. On the eve of the escape, he makes a reckless attempt to scale a wire fence during daylight hours and is shot dead by German guards.
His fellow escapee, Patrick Reid (Mills), is at first confused as to why his friend would do such an action just hours before the planned programme. It is left to Colonel Richmond tell him that McGill had given up his place on the main escape plan to protect the disguises of his fellow escapees. The escape goes ahead, the German's having been distracted by a stage show put on by the inmates. Days later, Colonel Richmond receives a postcard with a cryptic message. He announces to the assembled and cheering prisoners that this means that Reid has successfully crossed into neutral Switzerland.
- John Mills as Pat Reid
- Christopher Rhodes as Mac McGill
- Lionel Jeffries as Harry Tyler
- Bryan Forbes as Jimmy Winslow
- Guido Lorraine as Polish officer
- Anton Diffring as Hauptmann Fischer
- Carl Duering as Hauptmann Wagner
- Richard Wattis as Richard Gordon
- Ian Carmichael as Robin Cartwright
- Eric Portman as Colonel Richmond
- Frederick Valk as Kommandant
- Denis Shaw as Priem
- Theodore Bikel as "Vandy", Machiel van den Heuvel
- Keith Pyott as French colonel
- Eugene Deckers as La Tour
- Anthony Faramus as British officer
- Peter Swanwick as Lutyens
- John Heller as German Guard
- Jean Driant as French Orderly
- Jean Bacon as French Orderly
- Frederick Schiller as German Soldier
- Guy Deghy as German Soldier
- Witold Sikorski as Polish Officer
- Leo Bieber as German Interpreter
- Rudolph Offenbach as Dutch Colonel
- Arthur Butcher as Polish Colonel
- David Yates as Dick
- Douglas Argent as British Officer
- Terence Brook as British Officer
- Frank Coburn as British Officer
- Eric Corrie as British Officer
- John Corrie as British Officer
- Eric Lander as British Officer
- Kenneth Midwood as British Officer
- Peter Myers as British Officer
- Claude Le Sache as French Interpreter
- Zygmunt Rewkowski as Polish Interpreter
- Ludwik Lawinski as Franz Josef
- A. Blichewicz as Polish Officer
- B. Dolinski as Polish Officer
- W., Stephen (26 Apr 1959). "Noted on the British Movie Scene". New York Times. p. X7.
- "The Dam Busters". The Times. London. 29 December 1955. p. 12.
- Films and Filming June 1959