The Colditz Story | 1955 | John Mills, Ian Carmichael

The Colditz Story | 1955 | John Mills, Ian Carmichael

The real Colditz was a supposedly escape-proof castle, established to house POW’s who had escaped from other camps. Although boasting of its accuracy, The Colditz Story uses Pat Reid’s memoir as the basis for a largely fictitious story set in the infamous camp. Reid is here played by John Mills, with Eric Portman as his superior officer, Colonel Richmond. Like all the inmates – Dutch, French, Polish and British – they spend the film having their escape attempts foiled until one of them hits on a brilliant plan.

Why anyone should want to escape is never made clear. After all, Colditz seems a charming place, with jolly guards, plenty of amenities and the most crowded solitary confinement cells imaginable. Like most of the 50s war movies, The Colditz Story is completely uninterested in the harsh realities of war. It’s more concerned with using the conflict as a backdrop for a rousing adventure story, although it doesn’t entirely succeed in its objectives.

From the moment that the gates first clang shut, the script dons an effective pair of blinkers, concentrating only on the escape attempts. Characterisation is kept to a minimum and sub-plots only developed when they impinge on attempted breakouts. After a while, it becomes rather monotonous.

John Mills as Pat Reid
Ian Carmichael as Robin Cartwright
Eric Portman as Colonel Richmond
Frederick Valk as Kommandant
Denis Shaw as Priem
Lionel Jeffries as Harry Tyler
Christopher Rhodes as ‘Mac’ McGill
Richard Wattis as Richard Gordon
Bryan Forbes as Jimmy Winslow
Theodore Bikel as Vandy
Eugene Deckers as La Tour
Anton Diffring as Hauptmann Fischer
Guido Lorraine as Polish officer
Witold Sikorski as Polish Officer
A. Blichewicz as Polish Officer
B. Dolinski as Polish Officer
Leo Bieber as German Interpreter
Rudolph Offenbach as Dutch Colonel
Keith Pyott as French Colonel
Arthur Butcher as Polish Colonel
David Yates as Dick

Director: Guy Hamilton

UK | 94 minutes | 1955



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