The Great Escape (1963) is set during World War Two. A collection of hardened Allied prisoners are kept in an 'escape-proof' German camp. Led by the 'Big X' (Richard Attenborough), the men formulate a plan for a mass breakout, digging three tunnels--Tom, Dick and Harry. The team behind the escape includes a near-blind forger of passports (Donald Pleasance), a claustrophobic tunnel-digger (Charles Bronson) and the independent American 'Cooler King' (Steve McQueen). With men like that on their side, how can they fail?
A Bridge Too Far (1977) is Richard Attenborough's star-studded account of the failed 1944 Arnheim assault. Dirk Bogarde, James Caan, Robert Redford and Sean Connery are among those battling against insurmountable odds--foul weather, bad luck, negligence on the part of intelligence officers--to secure one of the bridges essential to the Allied advance into Germany. Gene Hackman, Michael Caine and Anthony Hopkins also star.
Guy Hamilton's classic war film Battle of Britain (1969) looks at how England defended itself from the German aerial onslaught of the summer of 1940. Laurence Olivier plays Sir Hugh Dowding, the air chief marshal whose fleet outmanouevre the Luftwaffe, despite a numerical disadvantage; and those few to whom so many owed so much are portrayed by an all-star cast including Michael Caine, Kenneth More and Ralph Richardson. Despite its pro-British slant, the authenticity of the film's impressive flying sequences was guaranteed by the technical advice of Adolf Galland, one of the Nazi's most celebrated World War 2 pilots.