THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY
(director: Roy Ward Baker; screenwriters: Howard Clewes/from the book by Kendal Burt & James Leason; cinematographer: Eric Cross; editor: Sidney Hayers; music: Hubbert Clifford; cast: Hardy Kruger (Lt. Franz von Werra), Colin Gordon (Army Interrogator), Michael Goodliffe (R.A.F. Interrogator), Terence Alexander (R.A.F. Interrogator), Alec McCowen (Hucknall, Duty Officer), Jack Gwillim (Commandant, Grizedale), Andrew Faulds(Lieutenant, Grizedale); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Julian Wintle; MGM; 1957-UK)
“The Brits seem to be in a generous mood acknowledging the dashing heroic feats of their black leather jacket wearing fair-haired pilot prisoner.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A solid escape war film, that’s based on the true-life exploits of Oberleutnant Franz von Werra (Hardy Kruger), the only German prisoner of war during World War II who escaped from three POW camps. The first two escapes resulted in his re-capture, but after the third escape in Canada he managed to get back to Germany in 1941–only to seven months later be missing on a mission over the North Sea and never be found.
Director Roy Ward Baker (“The October Man”/”Inferno”/”A Night to Remember”) helms this odd-flavored reserved Brit war film with a sense of neutrality, as it reflects on the enemy’s resourcefulness but in the end determines that it doesn’t mean much that one got away from them since he didn’t live for too long after that. Anyhow, the Brits seem to be in a generous mood acknowledging the dashing heroic feats of their black leather jacket wearing fair-haired pilot prisoner. It’s based onthe book by Kendal Burt & James Leason, and the screenplay is by Howard Clewes.
Luftwaffe ace pilot von Werra is shot down on September 5th, 1940, over Kent, during the Battle of Britain. Anxious to get back into action, von Werra escapes a military camp in the Lake District, in Grizedale, during an exercise walk and is caught five days later during a rainstorm on a mud-packed hill. Von Werra’s transferred to a more secure camp, where he escapes by tunnel and poses as a Dutch RAF pilot before caught again. The bombastic von Werra is now shipped to Canada, where he’s able to escape from a train heading for Montreal and slip into the neutral, at the time, United States, by crossing the frozen St Lawrence River by canoe and entering upstate New York. The pilot returns to his homeland via South America and Spain to fight again in the war he believed in less as a Nazi than as an egotistical self-promoting fighter craving the action and attention it got him from no less a figure than Hitler.
REVIEWED ON 1/30/2013 GRADE: B