The Great Escape is the Pick of the Week

A slightly flawed, but still exciting 1963 John Sturges classic starts off a new week of releases.
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A lot of things have been said about director John Sturges' admire 1963 anti-war classic, The Great Escape. Audiences and critics have enjoyed it as one of the great ensemble films ever made; a rousing and thrilling escapist film with many memorable set pieces; and another star-making vehicle for 'The King of Cool', Steve McQueen.

McQueen, James Garner, Sir Richard Attenborough, James Donald, Charles Bronson, Donald Pleasence, among other iconic actors, star as allied prisoners of war who plan an impossible escape for themselves and several hundred others from a German war camp during World War II. In typical fashion, it leads to some serious and dire consequences for many involved. 

It is all of factors that I mentioned in the first paragraph, but at the same time, it is however a slightly exaggerated fairy tale about men who behave in a manner that the real-life officers the film was based on never would have. It became a showy Hollywood action flick, and not the legit war drama that the filmmakers wanted it to be. But despite some of the film's missteps, it does remain a tense and action-packed ride. 

The new release from Criterion contains some nifty supplements, such as two audio commentaries with Sturges, composer Elmer Bernstein, production manager and second unit director Robert E. Relyea, stuntman Bud Ekins, actors Garner, James Coburn, David McCallum, Pleasence, and Jud Taylor, production designer Fernando Carrere, and McQueen's manager Hillard Elkins; new video interview with critic Michael Sragow; "The Great Escape": Heroes Underground, a 2001 vintage program; The Real Virgil Hilts: A Man Called Jones, a 2001 archival program about the real-life pilot that inspire McQueen's character in the film; Return to The Great Escape, 1993 archival program on the production history of the film, with Garner, Coburn, Pleasence, McCallum, and Taylor, among others; and a trailer. If you're a fan of this film and want a stellar upgrade, then this should definitely be a must-have in your collection.

Other releases:

Idle Hands (Scream Factory): Devon Sawa stars in the 1999 cult classic about a slacker whose hand gets possessed. With the help of his recently zombified buddies, he has to stop his hand's rampage of murder before it destroys his life and his chances with the class beauty (Jessica Alba).

Mystery of the Wax Museum: Lionel Atwill plays Igor, a sculptor at a famous wax museum in London, whose employer burns down the museum for the insurance money. Igor survives, and re-emerges as the creator of a new museum, that has really lifelike figures. When a model goes missing, reporter Florence (Glenda Farrell) does her own investigation inside the museum where she discovers why those figures look so real.

Inside Daisy Clover: The legendary Natalie Wood plays Daisy Clover, a tomboy who dreams of fame, and gets her wish, in more ways than one, when she discovers that being a star isn't always what it's cracked up to be.

Vivarium: Jesse Eisenberg and Imogen Poots stars a couple who are looking for the home of their dreams. They end up finding themselves held hostage in a mysterious labyrinth-like neighborhood of identical homes.

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