War On and Off Pitch for Michael Caine…
And it’s another review with my favourite oft reviewed star, Michael Caine in this war movie from the eighties with some big names in football and Sylvester Stallone.
Escape To Victory (1981) – Trailer, OldSchoolTrailers
So before I launch into my plot and preview review here is this months poll, with the results being announced in the first post of the remaining two War movie preview posts in August.
For my choice of War Movie preview, I narrowed it down to this film, Escape to Victory (1981). And it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure. As despite a total ignorance of football and the famous footballers in this cast, I do remember this movie as having one of the crazier plots of the war escape movies. And it’s another of Michael Caine’s 1980s movies which i love so much. Caine really has a charismatic effect in his movie characters that make you treasure his movies no matter how bad they seem. Particularly in his post The Swarm (1978) days. Newbies to Caine’s work, do watch other decades of his films I assure you he didn’t get his Sir title for these reasons..
I remember watching this with the men of the house (surprise, surprise), my dad and an Uncle one Christmas. This while my mother made the Christmas Dinner, and probably enjoyed the fact that at least 3 of the household were otherwise occupied. I remember my Uncle who on recognising the footballer Pelé was either shocked or horrified at his appearance in this movie. But of course its only now I vaguely recognise the other more prominent footballers in this movie (well their names anyway).
About the plot..
Escape to Victory tells of a battle on the football pitch during World War 2 between a team of Germans and a team of Allied Prisoner of Wars. It’s also an escape movie and was surprisingly directed by John Huston. The cast includes Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Max von Sydow, Daniel Massey, Bobby Moore and Pelé. Caine plays the Allied team captain, John Colby who was a professional footballer before the war. He is disgruntled when he has to allow Robert Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) on the team as trainer. However Hatch is on board with the British to organise the teams escape… The Brits hope this escape will occur during the football match, but Colby is worried for the players lives…
About the trailer…
The trailer really made me want to see this clash of cultures again, Cockney Caine’s Colby vs. Stallone – then remembered as The Italian Stallion – as Hatch. Much more so than the escape story line, which even in the trailer seems secondary to the plot. As its more billed as “the most unusual battle of the war” by the man with the masterful voice. Max von Sydow is our token Nazi in the trailer (which is kinda ironic when you remember Teddy Daniels’ accusations in Shutter Island (2010) of the film, which is set in 1942. Escape to Victory kind of capitalised on Caine’ s The Italian Job (1969) cheeky Cockney chappie persona where he has to get a football team together from band of Prisoner of War reprobates. But luckily he has a one time England captain in his team (correct me if I’m wrong.. as I say no clue on football) and Pelé. And possibly more big football names. And this team going head to head with the “Third Reich’s finest”.
Caine of course is the Allied Prisoner of War team Captain (although it appears it’s not his football skills you are watching), but it is him in various triumphant poses in the trailer. Cue clash with Hatch who knows football in an all-American way. With the differences of these games promoted in the film, which would surely come in useful for us. That’s those of us didn’t know it was two different games and rules, back then. (If we cared, as probably the most football I’d seen until watching this would have been Gregory’s Girl (1981)). Stallone as Hatch also of course is our white vested – not of the string variety – action hero of the piece as he’s also going to orchestrate the escape. . The white vest paving way for the similarly vested leads of Nicholas Cage and Bruce Willis in similarly over the top action movies.
The trailer also has some great lines such as Hatch protesting that “the mouth and the hands work together as a team”. The scene where Hatch chats up his
obligatory love interest is priceless, it’s almost like his dating pitch for a website. Why she is captivated by this particular orphan with no pets is beyond me, but hey ho. The crazy plot is reinforced at all levels be it the commentary of the trailer itself, or are the terribly British Brits with English accents – can’t remember if there were any token Scots in this one. But the craziest thing of all is the final credit in this trailer, attributing it all to Lorimar productions in that then well-loved logo. Lorimar was also home to another Rocky relationship of sorts.. and for those of you who have a Swarm of ideas buzzing round your head but can’t decide on what it was. Lorimar produced the original Dallas series. And that’s all, y’all.
Or CLICK HERE to read Thoughts All Sorts review.