The Great Escape Is A Great War Movie

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox/MGM

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox/MGM

The world celebrated what is one of the most important dates in history last week with the remembrance of VE Day.  That was the day that the war in Europe ended.  Interestingly enough, last Tuesday, MGM and 20th Century Fox released the fiftieth anniversary edition of what is one of the most talked about films centered on the war in Europe in The Great Escape.  This is hardly the shortest movie made about events from the war.  It clocks in at nearly three hours long.  And even with certain fictionalized portions as noted in the movie’s bonus features, it still proves almost half a century later to be one of the greatest WWII themed movies to ever be crafted.

What makes The Great Escape enjoyable, despite its run time, is that while it is on the surface a story based in WWII, it is more a story about the power of teamwork and of the human spirit to survive.  Having so many P.O.W.s from so many different backgrounds in one confined area could be argued to be a microcosm of the nations of the world.  This likely wasn’t the primary intent of script writers James Clavell and W.R. Burnett.  But seeing this and the ability of the men to work together for a singular cause despite their varied backgrounds helps to illustrate the power of teamwork and the human spirit to survive.  Those messages are made even more powerful when juxtaposed against the ideologies of the Nazi party.  It shows that no matter how great the odds, even ordinary people can do extraordinary feats when they come together.

The messages of teamwork and the human spirit are integral to the enjoyment of The Great Escape.  Those same messages are illustrated even more through the movie’s main storyline and its action sequences.  The movie’s main storyline is not that difficult to follow.  A group of P.O.W.s is sent to what is supposed to be an inescapable P.O.W. camp created by the Nazis.  The allied prisoners find every way to hide their “great” escape plan from the Nazi guards manning the camp.  The ways in which the plan is covered up are funny.  From singing Christmas music to using special code, it all seems so outrageous.  But it’s that outrageousness that is so entertaining.  As soon as audiences allow themselves to be pulled into the story, and get over the fact that some of the story was in fact fictionalized, they will find themselves appreciating the story even more.

Staying on the matter of the fictionalized portions of The Great Escape, the bonus features included in the movie’s fiftieth anniversary Blu-ray edition do a lot to justify the fictionalized portions of the story.  It is noted in the bonus features that portions of the story were in fact added that didn’t happen, such as Steve McQueen’s famous motorcycle chase.  It is noted that he made the demand that unless this scene was added, he was not going to star in the movie based.  Perhaps most interesting to note in the included bonus features is that despite some changes and additions here and there, the men that actually escaped from Stalag Luft III were quite accepting of the movie and even tried to claim that this character and that was based on him.  One can’t help but laugh at the pride brought out in those men when they shared their stories and joked about being the influence behind given characters in the movie.  The pride of the men on whom the movie was based is the most important reason for the movie having been made.  And it’s the most important reason for the movie to be seen to this day.  It is a tribute to just one more group of individuals of what former newsman Tom Brokaw properly called “The Greatest Generation.”  With members of this generation passing away each day, a movie like this is increasingly necessary in order to keep the memory of that generation alive.  It’s a movie that members of every generation should see at least once.  It is available now in stores and online and can be ordered direct online via the Fox store at http://www.foxconnect.com

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FHE Celebrates Upcoming Re-Issue With New Promotions

Courtesy:  20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Courtesy: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

The 2013 MLB season is right around the corner.  And just in time for the start of a brand new season, 20th Century Fox is set to release its classic baseball-centered coming-of-age story, The Sandlot in a special 20th Anniversary Blu-ray/DVD combo package.  The new re-issue will be released Tuesday, March 26th.  The movie features an all-star cast including: James Earl Jones, Denis Leary, and Karen Allen just to name a few cast members. 

Along with the re-issue of this classic movie, Fox Home Entertainment will partner with Benny The Jet’s favorite shoe brand, PF Flyers for a very special one-of-a-kind promotion.  The companies will release a limited run of “The Secret Weapon” the same day the movie hits stores.  The shoes will be sold in a vintage 1960’s shoebox.  The shoes won’t be all that fans get when they purchase a pair of PF Flyers.  The box will also include a $3 Sandlot coupon with the shoes.  And anyone who picks up the new 20th Anniversary edition of The Sandlot on Blu-ray/DVD combo pack will get a coupon for 10% off a pair of PF Flyers inside the box.  More information on this special is available online at http://www.pfflyers.com

The special limited run of PF Flyers is just one promotion being put on by FHE along with the classic movie’s re-issue.  FHE is also partnering with Major League Baseball and the Fox Sports Networks for what is being dubbed the “Sandlot Baseball Field Program.”  The program’s aim is to renovate baseball fields across the country so that baseball lovers the nation over can have a “Sandlot” of their own in their own backyards.  And many of the nation’s Major and Minor league baseball parks will present screenings of The Sandlot with Director, Writer and Narrator, David Mickey Evans.  A full schedule of screenings is listed below.

The Sandlot

Screening Locations/Dates

(*Subject to Change)

ARM & HAMMER Park, home of the Trenton Thunder (Trenton, New Jersey) – 4/13/13

 

Fluor Field at the West End, home of the Greenville Drive (Greenville, South Carolina) – 4/19/13

 

Arvest Ballpark, home of the Northwest Arkansas Naturals (Springdale, Arkansas) – 4/21/13

 

Rangers Ballpark, home of the Texas Rangers (Arlington, Texas) – 5/11/13

 

Tucson Padres at Kino Stadium (Tucson, Arizona) – 5/18/13

 

Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals (St. Louis, Missouri) – Date to be announced

 

Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins (Minneapolis, Minnesota) – Date to be announced

 

Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, home of the Oklahoma City RedHawks (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – 6/1/13

 

AutoZone Park, home of the Memphis Redbirds (Memphis, Tennessee) – 6/15/13

 

Steinbrenner Field, home of the Tampa Yankees (Tampa, Florida) – 6/22/13

 

Dell Diamond, home of the Round Rock Express (Round Rock, Texas) – 6/25/13

 

Whataburger Field, home of the Corpus Christi Hooks (Corpus Christi, Texas) – 6/29/13

 

Fifth Third Field, home of the Toledo Mud Hens (Toledo, Ohio) – 7/5/13

 

Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains (Eastlake, Ohio) – 7/12/13

 

CommunityAmerica Ballpark, home of the Kansas City T-Bones (Kansas City, Kansas) – 7/26/13

 

Security Service Field, home of the Colorado Springs Sky Sox (Colorado Springs, Colorado) – 8/2/13

 

Fifth Third Field, home of the Dayton Dragons (Dayton, Ohio) – 8/10/13

 

Werner Park, home of the Omaha Storm Chasers (Omaha, Nebraska) – 8/17/13

 

The Epicenter, home of the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Rancho Cucamonga, California) – 8/30/13

 

Coolray Field, home of the Gwinnett Braves (Lawrenceville, Georgia) – 9/21/13

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.