Your web site bring back memories since I spent five months, every day, on site for the shooting of the GE. I've always thought it would be great to have a reunion of the cast but unfortunately, most of them have passed on. You mention that Steve did the jump of the barbed wire fence but that is not exactly correct. Steve did all of his own motorcycle riding, right up to the place where it appears he jumped the fence. That's when his double, Bud Ekins, took over and did the actual jump. No big deal but credit where credit is due. But I was on site for the scenes with Donald and James from the plane crash to the killing of Donald.
I have tried to figure out where you are located. It is very commendable that you undertake to keep alive the history of the making of the film since it is such a great cinematic experience. If you get a chance to read my book, A Vulcan Odyssey, I cover a great deal of the making of the film from the time we all arrived at Gaselgasteig on May 5, 1962 until we wrapped five months later in Fussen.
We would sure like to join you for your get-together to commemorate the making of the film but I doubt that there are enough of us left to fill a small table at IHop.
Best of luck on your venture.
I have finally taken the time to cover all the pages on your site. First, forgive me for assuming that you did not give credit to Bud Ekins for doing the jump for Steve. I finally found all the information included in the fence sequence. I later worked with Bud up in Carmel, California, on the Disney film, Escape to Witch Mountain. It was Bud who encouraged me to write a motorcycle film for Steve called, Cyclone 25. Unfortunately, Steve died while I was spending time rewriting the script and we never did get it off the ground.
As for your page on TGE, it is a mind-blower...so much that you have covered that I couldn't take it all in. I plan to do a little bit every day until I've seen everything. I have some photos you might want to view if you go to my web site: www.lawrencemontaigne.com
There is a hyperlink called The Great Escape with a number of photos you might want to use. Check it out. I'm sure we'll be in touch. Best. Lawrence
From left to right:
Click on photograph above to visit Lawrence Montaigne's website....
| Lawrence Montaigne "...had
found a house in (Morgenroth Strasse) Bogenhausen, a lovely residential
community on the other side of the English Gardens and across the Isar
River." (page 144)
"There was a nightclub in Schwabing where many of the actors and stuntmen would hang out. An Israeli ran it by the name of Mario and he was a bull of a man." (page 148)
"The last four weeks of shooting were a distant location outside of Munich....and took off for the village of Fussen, some two hours drive from home....The beauty of Fussen was like stepping through Alice's looking glass into a Disney world. There were two magnificient castles situated on opposite mountains in a valley....Our room was in a Gasthaus that overlooked a river on one side and the castles on the other. (149-150).
My God, but I wish I could answer more of your questions but you give me too much credit. My memory fails with much of the incidents that transpired. I thought some of the recollections from my book might have helped but I guess not.
I do remember that the Camp was situated on the left hand side road coming in from the studio. Remember, I had just finished a film, Captain Sindbad, at that studio so the forest to the back lot of the studio had been decimated so they could build the compound and the camp. As for the names of towns in and around the area, they are long ago forgotten.
What scenes was I in down in Fussen? To be quite candid, the only scenes I remember were the ones where they took us out in the truck and executed us. I do remember standing around for weeks on end with nothing to do but watch the scenes with Steve, James and Donald.
What was Steve like with the cast? That is something of an unfair question because Steve and I got along quite well since I owned an Opel Station Wagon that accommodated three go-carts and when we had time off, Steve, James and I would load our go-carts into the Opel and head out for the go-cart track not far from the studio. My intro to Steve was friendly because his wife and I studied ballet together at Carnagie Hall in New York. And Steve and I had something of a bond because he and I were both in boot camp in the Marine Corp only one platoon apart. I can't account for his relationship with other members of the cast.
Don, I wish I could help you spread the word about the anniversary of TGE but I am no longer in touch with members of the cast. I wish there was some way I could help you to spread the word about your venture but in truth, I am living in a vacuum with little or no contact with the public at large. But I do wish you the best of luck and we shall be with you in spirit comes August.
Question 1) -
The tunnel filming. Correct me if I'm wrong,
the interiors which I believe were filmed in Munich, were where the
underground bit of the tunnel were built: - the entrance bit, the passing
areas, and the bit just below the exit. Also I guess this is where the
entrance bit inside the hut was built (were James Coburn and then William
Russell sat checking names off as the POWs entered the tunnel). Now (and
this is my guess), i'm assuming that the tunnel entrance did not lead to a
tunnel, but to a space big enough for you actors to hide in while the
sequences were shot. I'm guessing too that where the tunnel comes up near
the tree line was filmed in Bavaria, with again just a space below the
"hole" just big enough for you to hide. Thus meaning that the tunnel was in
fact several different sets?
Also do you recall how long a section of
tunnel was built? If this is all different from what I guess perhaps you can
Was the prison bit where Nigel Stock
(Cavendish) comes in after he is interrogated by the Gestapo and talks to
you a set, or an actual building somewhere? - it looks very real!!!
It appears in the film as though Haynes and
Nimmo (Tom Adams) are supposed to be friends, was this true in reality?
Also was there a feeling amongst the
supporting cast - you Tom Adams, William Russell, Robert Desmond (who played
Griff the Tailor, and of whom I can find no mention of after 1965!!!), Judd
Taylor and Angus Lennie of unity, or did the whole cast from McQueen down
get along well. I read that John Sturges always chose as good a supporting
cast as he did stars for his films. Personally I think its the supporting
cast that make the film so special.
In researching the Battle of Britain film, I
found out that the German actors did not socialise with the British actors.
Did the actors playing guards, ferrets etc socialise with you POWs or did
you keep seperate during filming?
It appears on film that a whole replica camp
was built, do you recall if it was complete with 4 fenced sides and complete
huts, or was it half a set, with flat 2D huts etc in the background?
Another thing, I heard from Angus Lennie, is
that as he recalled for the filming in the camp, none of you were told
whether upon escaping whether your character would be captured, killed or
escape. Was this true?.
An odd question this, don't answer it if you
don't want to. It is rumoured that there was a very bad feeling on set
between David McCallum and Charles Bronson, due to the entanglement over
Jill Ireland. The fact that in only the scene where Big X talks to all the
principle characters, do Bronson and McCallum appear together on screen may
back this up?
In a British TV interview with James Coburn,
he said that all the actors were invited to a dinner with the real Stalag
Luft III escapers, and that you were all made honorary members of the real
Escape association, and were given a tie each with a barbed wire motif - did
you get one?
Were the indoor or outdoor scenes shot
Did you all hang around and watch all the
scenes being filmed, or were you employed for different lengths of time. I'm
wondering if you got to witness any of the motorbike sequence being
One last thing, did you have an idea at the
time of just how big a film The Great Escape was going to be, and just how
hugely popular it is still, or was it just another job? I understaand too,
that you appeared in a few episodes of Hogan's Heroes, do you think your
Great Escape pedigree was part of the reason they chose you for the series?
Do you have any other particular memories,
anecdotes or funny stories from filming?