While there’s certainly room for argument about whether or not it’s the coolest, there’s no denying that THE GREAT ESCAPE deserves a place on the list of screen depictions of machismo. With a cast that included Steve McQueen, James Garner, Charles Bronson, James Coburn and Richard Attenborough how could it not? Writer Steven Jay Rubin and director Christophe Espenan do believe it deserves the crown and in THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER set out to chart the exact locations where the film’s pivotal scenes were filmed.
Bringing along a crew of fans, film historians and local experts they compare film footage and behind the scenes shots to the current landscape. It’s interesting seeing how they narrowed things down to the exact locations. Sometimes by things as strange as a closeup of the wood grain on a barn, an odd kink in a tree or the way a mountain rises behind a building. In other cases, it’s simply a matter of checking with the locals who were involved with the production.
However, this by itself wouldn’t be enough to carry the film, even at a running time of just about an hour. Since most of the film’s stars are no longer with us the usual round of interviews isn’t an option. Even the narrator, Lawrence Montaigne, who had a small role in THE GREAT ESCAPE has since passed on. There is some older footage of Coburn and Garner talking about the filming but that’s it.
Instead, they spend a good deal of time with stunt team member Bud Ekins and the 1st Assistant Director Robert Relyea. This is a plus because instead of the usual stories THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER gives us a different perspective. Add in some cool finds along the way such as footage from a German TV news interview with Steve McQueen and it’s a fairly interesting watch. Of course the bigger a fan of the film you are, the more you’ll like it.
THE COOLEST GUY MOVIE EVER will be released by Virgil Films on August 21, 2018, after a special screening earlier this year at Marché du film in Cannes.