A fine WWII prisoner-of-war escape film...even if we're root
C. O. DeRiemer | San Antonio, Texas, USA | 09/22/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of the better WWII movies about an escape from a prisoner-of-war camp. The story is taut and suspenseful. The odds against success are high but we wind up rooting for the man anyway. The guy is handsome, competent, resourceful and self-confident to the point of smugness. No, the guy isn't played by Steve McQueen. There is no ball-bouncing in a prison cell. The man is Oberleutnant Franz von Werra, played by the German actor Hardy Kruger. Von Werra's Messerschmitt is shot down over England on September 5, 1940. He is captured, interrogated and sent to a prisoner of war camp for officers. He turned out to be the only German captured on British soil who ever escaped and made it back to Germany. Please note that elements of the plot are discussed.
Von Werra turns out to be a committed German officer, determined to escape, and with enough drive, ingenuity and luck to escape from British camps three times. The first time sees him staggering for five days through mud and freezing rain to try to reach a British port and a neutral ship. When he's finally recaptured he's half dead. The British send him to a much tougher camp in the north. This time he organizes a tunnel dig, figures out how to make fake identity discs and how to convert rag-tag clothing into something passably civilian. On this break von Werra manages to talk himself onto a RAF base posing as a Dutch pilot. He's captured while seated in the cockpit of a Hurricane trying to get it started. He planned to fly back to Germany. Now the British ship him off to a prisoner-of-war camp in Canada. They figure that'll take the starch out of his determination to return to Germany. They didn't figure that von Werra would realize the significance of the United States being a neutral country and how close the train taking him to the camp would be to the Saint Lawrence River border. Sure enough, in the dead cold of a Canadian winter (January, 1941), he escapes from the train, works his way through the snow and freezing drizzle to the mostly frozen river. He finds a boat and finally is picked up on the American side. Our movie ends here, with a big smile on von Werra's frozen face and mumbled "thank yous" to the American border guard who found him.
Through all of this the escapes are carefully shown with a lot of dramatic tension. You can't help but wind up hoping von Werra's persistence will pay off. Knowing he's an enthusiastic German pilot, a fighter ace, who is eager to get back to the battles takes a little of the edge off, but still...
The One That Got Away is filmed in black and white. There are no sweeping, beautiful shots of the countryside. We're talking late fall and winter in Britain and Canada. It's cold and grey. If it's not snowing, it's raining. If it's not raining, it's drizzling. If it's not drizzling it's still so cold you'll want a fire going during the day. The acting is as cool and competent as the movie.
And what about von Werra after he made it to America? The Canadians tried to get him back. The Americans wanted to send him back. While everyone was arguing his status, von Werra slipped across the U. S. border into Mexico, then made his way back to Germany by way of Peru, Bolivia, Brazil and Spain. He arrived in Berlin on April 18, 1941. He was assigned to fly on the Eastern front, became an ace again, then was sent with his unit to the Netherlands for rest and refitting. On October 21, 1941, his plane malfunctioned during a training flight and went down in the sea. His body was never recovered. Franz von Werra's luck had finally run out.
The Region 2 DVD, available from AmazonUK, has no extras but the film transfer looks good."
One of the Best Escape Stories of WWII
J. L. Fenster | Surprise, Arizona | 06/05/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Hardy Kruger gives an outstanding portrayal of a WWII German Aviator captured and determined to escape by any means.
The intensity of Kruger's effort to escape makes this one of the best movies of its kind. Right up there with "The Great Escape""
This one really is "Based on a True Story"
Karen Shaub | the inner reaches of the outer limits | 05/01/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY is an exciting WWII film that is based on Kendal Burt's book detailing the real life exploits of Swiss born Franz von Werra, a German pilot who is captured by the British when his plane crashes. Von Werra is played with a muted but still smug swagger by Hardy Kruger,a favorite of mine since SUNDAYS AND CYBELE (LES DIMANCHES DE VILLES D'AVRAY) which won the Oscar for Best Foreign film in 1962. The pilot's sole goal is to be assigned to a POW camp so he can go about the business of escaping, the Brits however, are more concerned with trying to pry information out of him--even going so far as to suggest that his well-known heroics might be all so much fakery and they will expose his deceit to the other German prisoners. No go, he ain't buying it even though what they say may very well be true. He simply doesn't care.
Finally they give up and he's sent to a camp from which he quickly attempts an escape but is just as quickly captured and shipped off to another camp. At the second camp the escape is more organized a la THE GREAT ESCAPE but with much the same results for von Werra. And so it goes until he is shipped off to Canada with other escape prone Germans, where he makes his final bid for freedom. The fact that this film was made so soon after the end of WWII is surprising and the fact that Kruger can still makes us feel so much empathy for his character and genuinely make us hope for him to succeed is a testament to both Kruger's abilities as an actor and to the writers and to director Roy Ward Baker. Don't forget to read the epilogue and find out what happened to von Werra after he left Canada! Its very ironic.
HARDY KRUGER IS TOO GORGEOUS TO BE TRUE. THE HANDSOMEST MAN
J. Marus | 02/16/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I have to say I first discovered Hardy Kruger in a main title role in The One That Got Away and after seeing him in this I have to say he is definitely the handsomest, most attractive man in the entire cosmos. He was unbelievably gorgeous in The One That Got Away. I felt so sorry for him though what he had to go through in that movie, trying his best to escape the British through all the stepping stones he encountered trying to get to a neutral nation. It made me want to just jump in the film and help him and even stay with him forever. I really would have loved to have joined him any day on such an escaping adventure. Everytime I watch this film I always imagine me aiding him in his escape and having him carry me in the rain and the freezing snow and assuring him that he'd really get away, that I loved him and that I would have stayed with him forever. Hardy is the most beautiful man to me and he forever will be."