THE COLDITZ STORY ; Certificate U: Gaumont Director: Guy Hamilton
COLD1TZ Castle. now incorpora
ted into the Russian zone of Germany, was a place to which allied officers who had escaped from other camps and been recaptured were sent. Its story. written by one who was himself a prisoner there from 1940 to 1942, Major P. R. Reid and brought to the screen by Ivan Foxwell fantastic as it may seem from the comfortable armchair of the cinema—is all vouched for as being cold. stark fact.
Perhaps no better tribute can be paid than that when the end comes one goes out into peacetime London feeling one has left reality behind there on the black and white twodimensional screen.
The German medieval castle. which because of its location now behind the Iron Curtain had to be reconstructed at Pinewood studios. was seemingly an impregnable fortress. Yet the four national groups of officers there—British. French Dutch and Poles—never ceased their attempts to escape.
When the film opens. however. a newly arrived British colonel (Eric Portman) and other officers. including Pat Reid (John Mills impersonating the author) find confusion and a general mix-up of escape tunnels. since each nationality is working independently on its own plan of escape.
It is the British colonel who calls a meeting (so characteristic thisthe British bringing order out of chaos) and pleads with them all to I combine operations and share in , the ideas. the hazards and. it is hoped. the reward of freedom for at least a few at a time.
Each nationality appoints one escape officer who has to plan hut who most not try to escape himself. Attempt after attempt fails. but still they refuse to be discoura ged.
Ingenuity and improvisation: tricks to divert the guards' attention: creating minor incidents so that the main operation should go unnoticed —all these are woven into the story and. incidentally, provide the muchneeded relief in a tale of high tension and often sizzling suspense.
Are the German types exagger ated? It is bard to say. Of course, the camp commandant (Frederick Valk) wears a monocle and the personnel rarely smile—but no one has ever suggested that the British —or the French—sense of humour has anything in common with the German.
The final and successful getaway happens during a camp concert in which there is a glorious impersonation act of Flanagan and Allen.
Among a large cast—many of