October 29, 2018  (Web Review)

The Coolest Guy Movie Ever

(2018) 58 min. DVD: $14.99. Virgil Films (avail. from most distributors). Closed captioned.

Reviewer rating: 1.5/4

Christophe Espenan’s hour-shy documentary on the 1963 classic The Great Escape falls somewhere between ambitious fan film and generous DVD supplement. The film’s subtitle is more descriptive of the project: “Return to the Scene of The Great Escape.” Filmmaker Espenan and his crew travel to Bavaria, Germany, to obsessively track down locations where key scenes were shot, starting with the prison camp (now a forest) and followed by visits to towns and countryside spots where Steve McQueen raced on motorcycle while various other escaped POWs dodged German soldiers or met their demise. Along the way a few locals share their recollections of the shoot, and actor Lawrence Montaigne, who had a small role as Haynes, and late stuntman Bud Ekins and 1st Assistant Director Robert Relyea offer comments. The interview clips with James Coburn and James Garner (the only stars of the film featured here) appear to be archival and are limited to remembrances of McQueen. Overall, this is an amateurish, haphazardly constructed production, lacking both consistent perspective and compelling insight. The filmmakers never explain why The Great Escape is the “coolest guy movie ever” or offer much in the way of production history. Little more than a nostalgic travelogue, this is not recommended. Aud: P. (S. Axmaker)