(1963), directed by John Sturges. Based on the book by Australian Paul Brickhill who was there, but the Canadian element is better represented in The Tunnel King: The True Story of Wally Floody & the Great Escape published in 2004. Stars: Steve McQueen, James Garner, Richard Attenborough, Charles Bronson.
“At first blush my choice for favourite Canadian history film will seem odd, but I think it’s important to recognize it as a Canadian story. No question that The Great Escape was a Hollywood film created for American audiences, but compared to the history of the actual event, the role of the Americans was significantly beefed up in the film while the contributions of the Canadian prisoners of war was seriously downplayed. Of the fifty escapees that were caught and executed, six were Canadian. No Americans actually escaped in the breakout of March 1944. While the American prisoners of war were involved in creating the tunnel named Tom, they were transferred to a different camp after Tom was discovered by the Gestapo. The “Tunnel King,” played by Charles Bronson, was based on Canadian Flight Lieutenant Wally Floody who worked in the mines in Timmins, Ontario, prior to the war. Although Floody was instrumental in building the tunnels, he could not participate in the escape because he had been transferred as well. Wally Floody also served as technical advisor to the film.” – Tanja Hutter, Online Manager