The Great Escape

There are many folks who like to complain that The Great Escape is on TV every Christmas.

I, for one, didn’t notice it in the schedules this year.

And had I noticed it I would have cleared the decks and sat down and watched the whole damned thing from start to finish. From the ominous brass fanfare of the opening bars of the famous theme tune, to the wry, woodwind-infused reprise of same, as Steve McQueen’s baseball thuds rhythmically from the wall of the cooler, eliciting a raised eyebrow of Teutonic confusion from the Bosch gaoler, I would have relished every moment.

Why? Why when I’ve already seen it more often than I have watched episodes of Coronation Street?

Too many reasons to list them all here. But the most relevant angle to The Hornet is this:


The Great Escape features the greatest tailor in the history of the movies. Bar none.

Griffith “The Tailor” (as played by the great Robert Desmond, pictured) fashions two hundred and some Civvy Street whistles out of battle dress jackets, a few hairy blankets and some leftover ticking and performs a miracle greater than that of the mice making a dress for Cinderella in the Disney cartoon. If he’d only cut David MacCallum’s dark blue number and dove-grey fedora then he’d still be a genius.

There’s a grooming note we’re very fond of, too. They dig tunnels; they shift earth hither and yon; they’ve ended up here through countless escape attempts from other camps, let alone having served in the heat of battle in the clothes in which they stand up; they can’t have much of a wardrobe at their disposal: yet James Garner as Henley keeps his white pullover brighter than the “after” child on the Daz adverts. Well done, sir. Style in the face of extreme adversity.

On TV too often? It’s not on enough, if you ask me.



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