Friday, September 28, 2007

The great escape

There is a gem of an obituary in the Torygraph of a Major Sir Hamish Forbes. He won the MC and military MBE for courage and persistence, rather than success, in escaping from German POW camps.

Amongst the many failed ploys that Steve McQueen would have sacked the scriptwriters for suggesting were the time he disguised himself as a Danish ballet dancer and the occasion when 'he and a South African Air Force officer cut their way out of their cells using hacksaw blades wrapped in rubber piping concealed up their back passages, only to be discovered by an under-officer on a visit to the latrines'. Priceless - and admirable.

1 comment:

Larkers said...

McQueen not only made it on to the screen in the abysmal 'Great Escape', but, astoundingly, on to a dust jacket of a re-print of Paul Brickhill's original account, fact into fiction, into more fiction. The defining image of an Allied (chiefly British) P.O.W.s struggle to escape their jailers is an American.

The Germans were scrupulous about keeping the British and American P.O.W.s apart. I know of no American escape bids, even unsuccessful.

Clive James once commented that what got William Holden to the bank of the River Kwai was 'The Bank', the American one producers needed to finance the film and ensure a US release; hence McQueen leads the idiot, bumbling Brits with flair and sexual panache, something they, sadly lack (unless playing the Nazis).