What is it that makes the escape genre so riveting? When it works, the classics perfectly allign with why we watch the majority of the movies we do in the first place - to escape from our imprisoned selves, to energise and refresh ourselves.
As Mel Gibson's madcap 'How I Spent My Summer Vacation' is released on May 11th (absolutely brilliant trailer complete with vintage Mel charm HERE), Cinemas Online's own feature writer on-the-run Dave Lancaster takes a look back at his favourite classics that defined the genre.
1. The Great Escape (1963, John Sturges)
The ultimate escape movie. Headlined by the inimiatable Steve McQueen, 'The Great Escape' is the leader of the pack when it comes to WW2 breakout movies. The motorbike attempting to jump the barb wire fence is thrillingly memorable.
2. Stalag 17 (1953, Billy Wilder)
William Holden won the Oscar for Best Actor in Billy Wilder's electric POW film 'Stalag 17'. This, along with another William Holden POW classic 'Bridge on the River Kwai', perfectly highlights the tensions and deceptions that arise between the captives and captors as some bond and others rebel from each other.
3. Midnight Express (1978, Alan Parker)
Back when Oliver Stone was screenwriting to fund his early projects, he bagged the Oscar for adapting Billy Hayes' true story of a drug smuggler who is given a huge prison sentence in Turkey. Guilty yes, but the wheels of justice move too slowly for Billy so he becomes determined to catch the "midnight express" (code for escape).
4. Papillon (1973, Franklin J Schaffner)
Two prisoners become bonded together on a harsh prison island and begin to plot their escape. As the forever determined to escape petty thief wrongly sent down for murder Henri Charriere/Papillon, Steve McQueen is incredible in this true story but it's Dustin Hoffman as his companion who fuels his fire.
5. Misery (1990, Rob Reiner)
After the coffin-bound thriller 'Buried', Rob Reiner's take on Stephen King's autobiographic nightmare 'Misery' is probably the most claustrophobic escape thriller in film history. When a writer (James Caan) awakes from a car crash, he's in the care of a nurse (Kathy Bates) who happens to be his biggest, most obsessed fan. When he care turns to torment, the author tries to make a break from her secluded home in the dead of winter only to be halted by crippling injuries and psychological mind games.
6. The Defiant Ones (1958, Stanley Kramer)
'The Definat Ones' begins with the escape. The rest is a heartstopping chase. Tony Curtis and Sidney Poitier smoulder as convicts chained together who are therefore forced to flee together to outrun the law, pushing them to the edges of racial tolerance and mutual respect. An important masterpiece.
7. Le Trou (1960, Jacques Becker)
Classing up our handpicked list is French crime classic 'Le Trou' ('The Hole'), a brutally realistic tale of a band of crooks who share the same cell, taking shifts to dig their way to freedom. All is going great until it's unveiled that one of them may not have the same goal in mind...
8. Runaway Train (1985, Andrey Konchalovskiy)
Prison bust-outs are usually a one man or a large group affair. Focussing on two convicts (Jon Voight and Eric Roberts on Oscar nominated form), 'Runaway Train' is a claustrophobic examination of bonds under tension. The snow-filled cinematography is an electric as Akira Kurosawa's expertly Hollywoodised story.
9. Escape From Alcatraz (1979, Don Siegel)
If there's one prison that every names as the definitive one, it's Alcatraz. Surrounded by sharp rocks and icy waters, the fortress off the shore of San Francisco is generally regarded as one of the toughest to break out of. But not for Clint Eastwood's cunning Frank Morris... Also, to see people break IN to Alcatraz, check out Michael Bay's explosion-filled 'The Rock' from 1996.
10. Cool Hand Luke (1967, Stuart Rosenberg)
You've got to hand it to Luke (Paul Newman on Oscar nominated, iconic form)... he's determined. Forever trying to bust out of a rough jail in which he has "a failure to communicate", Luke's brave antics turn him into a beacon and a prison legend. 'Cool Hand Luke' is a masterpiece, fronted by one of cinema's all-time most magnetic stars.
Cinemas Online supply showtimes for every cinema in the UK. To find out what's playing near you and to register for weekly showtimes updates from your local cinema, just enter your postcode:
|1.||Star Trek Into Darkness||£8.43m|
|2.||Iron Man 3||£3.18m|
|3.||21 And Over||£0.58m|