August 19, 2008
The Story on the Big Screen
The 1963 film version of The Great Escape was based on a book of the same name by Paul Brickhill published in 1950.
Steve McQueen, an expert rider, did most of his own motorbike stunts but some of the more dangerous stunts required a double.
Bud Ekins, a friend and fellow motorbike enthusiast, happened to resemble McQueen sufficiently from a distance to do the stunts without being revealed as a double.
Ekins performed the 60ft (18m) jump over the inner Austrian/ Swiss border fence. He also did the scene sliding his bike into the outer fence.
The motorbike run is entirely fictional and McQueen uses a Triumph 650 rather than an authentic but more pedestrian BMW R75 or Zundapp KS750.
The film is referenced in many other films, TV series and computer games such as Chicken Run, Reservoir Dogs, The Parent Trap, The Simpsons, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who and Red Dwarf.
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