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Great escape movies – more than just escapism By Richard Crouse Metro Canada In Focus October 9, 2012

argoIt’s no spoiler to tell you the action in Argo, the new thriller starring and directed by Ben Affleck, centres around a daring escape. Based on the real life covert operation to free six American diplomats after the seizure of their embassy in Tehran, the movie showcases the cooperation between Canadian diplomat Ken Taylor and the CIA that led to the film’s exciting climax.

Even if you already know how the movie ends — and in this case it’s a matter of public record — nothing will keep you on the edge of your seat quite like a daring escape.

The big screen version of The Fugitive, starring Harrison Ford as Richard Kimble, a wrongly accused man on the lam from the law, is essentially one big escape sequence. The most famous is the crash between Kimble’s prison transport van and a freight train. To film the scene where the wanted man makes his way out of the twisted wreck they actually crashed a van into a train, although the image of Ford jumping from the ruin was added later.

Not surprisingly, some of the best escape movies tip their hand by including the word escape in the title.

The Great Escape sees Steve McQueen lead a cast of Second World War allied POWs who arrange a mass escape from a German camp. Motorcycle enthusiast McQueen refused to sign on to do the movie until a cycle chase was included in the script. The director agreed, and when the scene was shot even allowed McQueen to ride along as a German soldier. In the final, edited sequence McQueen, in disguise, is seen chasing after himself.

Based on a true story, Escape from Alcatraz starred Clint Eastwood as one-third of a team who staged the only successful escape from the island prison. Many of the dangerous looking stunts in the film were as risky as they looked. Director Don Siegel insisted the actors do their own stunts, but twice feared his stars had been lost to the strong currents of San Francisco Bay.

Finally, in Escape from New York, the city is transformed into a giant maximum-security prison. The twist is one of the prisoners is hired, after the President’s plane crashes, to get the Commander-In-Chief out safely. In this one The Great Escape alum Donald Pleasence plays the president, although it’s never explained why the U.S. leader has an English accent.

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