A cowboy retelling of Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai, the movie takes place in a Mexican farming village which has been overrun by bandits. The outlaws take the villagers' food, making a grueling life that much tougher. Tired of getting pushed around, several men consult the resident wise old man. "Fight, you must fight," he says.
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Based on a true story, The Great Escape is set during the tail end of World War II, when a variety of officers from different countries were sent to Stalag Luft III, a prison camp designed to handle the most diligent escape attempts. Both fearless and duty-bound, the men spend no time with long prologues or chit-chat about what to do; they, along with the movie, immediately set to work, using the skills they know best. There's Anthony Hendley, the "scrounger" skilled at digging up needed provisions; James Garner, at his best when he's being charmingly unctuous to his Nazi captors; Charles Bronson, as the "tunnel king" Danny Velinski, offering a nice combination of two-fisted bravado and sensitive-guy neurosis; and Donald Pleasance, the British document forger, who brings a steely, proud stoicism to his role that sets the movie's emotional feel. His is the most convincing performance, which makes sense given that really did time in a German P.O.W. camp.
Continue reading: The Great Escape Review
'Smalls Change (Meditations Upon Ageing)' arrives in April.
The two awards have made for a great 72nd birthday present for the country music icon.