The Great Escape is about a group of allied prisoners of war who are all brought to Stalag Luft III because the Nazis believe it to be escape-proof. Various leaders of the group decide that they need to expose the Stalag as not being escape-proof and quickly put together a plan to dig an escape tunnel out of the camp. Over the next year or more hundreds of men participated in the digging of this tunnel while other details such as the necessary papers needed to get by Nazi soldiers on the outside were being forged and clothing that didn’t look like prison uniforms was being created. In the end 76 men were able to get through the tunnel and The Great Escape follows the exploits of several of the escaped prisoners. The Great Escape tired very hard to stick with the facts as the producers brought in some of the actual participants in the escape to give their advice on how things were. The Great Escape continues to follow the main characters until all of their fates are known and also the fates of the Nazis that were supposed to make Stalag Luft III escape-proof are also known. The Nazi Gestapo leaves no stone unturned.
Donald Pleasence was repeatedly offering his technical advice to director John Sturges through the early days of the shoot and Sturges would tell Pleasence to just act and leave the technical aspects to the crew. It wasn’t until Sturges was told that Pleasence was a Nazi prisoner of war when his Royal Air Force plane was shot down that Sturges apologized and called on Pleasence repeatedly during the rest of the filming for his advice. For all of the real life participants that were available to the director of The Great Escape it still takes a great deal of artistic license to tell the story as many of the incidents portrayed are either in the wrong order with what happened in real life or a combination of several events all boiled down into one. But that’s Hollywood!