FILMS… Escape to Victory / Victory (1981)



War On and Off Pitch for Michael Caine…


Michael Caine in a war movie from the eighties with some big names in football and Sylvester Stallone.


Escape To Victory (1981) – Trailer, OldSchoolTrailers


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. 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 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… (or maybe he did).

I remember watching this with the men of the house (surprise, surprise), 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 recognising the footballer Pelé was either shocked or horrified at his appearance in this movie. But of course, it’s 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 a 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 about 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 storyline, 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 a 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 who 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 around your head but can’t decide on what it was. Lorimar produced the original Dallas series. And that’s all, y’all.



CLICK HERE to read Thoughts All Sorts review.    




9 thoughts on “FILMS… Escape to Victory / Victory (1981)

  1. He he…I enjoyed the “the mouth and the hands work together as a team” comment and Stallone chatting up his love interest. Enjoy your post and it, together with the trailer has me wanting to watch this asap.

  2. I absolutely love this film. Growing up two of the things I had a liking for were football and wars. As this film contains both it really couldn’t go wrong. Throw in Michael Caine, Pele, Ipswich Town and Stallone in goal and you’ve got the greatest Second World War football movie ever made.
    “Let’s go back, we can win this!”

    • Thanks so much for your lovely comment Paul – its always great to have your comments as you(like me) always treasure these eighties classics. Thanks so much for your comment x BTW sent you a comment and a lot of my comments been going to peoples spam so please look out for it if not marked as spam, thanks)

    • You’re welcome. Thanks for stopping by my latest post. I have un-spammed your comment. I know it’s a nuisance, I’ve had the same problem and it does sort itself out in time.

    • Thanks for that support, so needed to know that – it’s superannoying – When you free, Cat and I would still love you to do a Guest post trailer for us in 2 Reel Quirky Cats with either a Meg or Michelle fave theme and trailer!

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