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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Goodbye Camp McKenzie, 11 Mar 2010
By 
Mulwharchar (Hereford, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
POW camp drama 'The McKenzie Break' belongs to that early 70s wave of cynical war films and has been unjustly overlooked, as it's a minor classic of the genre. For once the Germans are on the inside of the wire, and the film throws some interesting sidelights on the tensions of POW life: not all German officers were enthusiastic Nazis, for example, and inter-service hostilities certainly weren't suspended for the duration. However the real conflict is the battle of wills between journalist-turned-intelligence officer Captain Connor (Brian Keith) and the prisoners' leader, the ruthless, charismatic U-boat commander Schleutter (Helmut Griem). The Germans' campaign of orchestrated disobedience and Connor's unorthodox response, which isn't strictly within the Geneva Convention, make for some pretty tense scenes, as does the inevitable escape and its aftermath. The Irish locations are a good stand-in for Scotland and the attention to period detail is excellent for a 70s film - nobody has a mop-top haircut or George Best sideburns, for once - and although it was too much to expect a U-boat in the final scene, they at least managed to rustle up a Turkish Navy submarine !
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Great Escape for Germans, 15 Nov 2008
By 
Johnnybluetime - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
This isn't bad at all.Especially given that's it's a WWII film made in 1970, well past the peak period for movies like this.It's basically The Great Escape but with Germans escaping rather than Allied prisoners.Brian Keith and his toupee aren't bad,Ian Hendry plays a grumpy and ineffectual camp commander and although the germans are nazi schweinhund the intelligent script still manages to make the viewer sympathise with them to some extent.It's nice to see all the usual prisoner of war malarkey turned on its head.It's the kind of film that blokes can watch countless times on late night tv; well cast with decent actors,some humour,plenty of action,a little bit of pathos,there's always something going on to hold your attention.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The ones that got away..., 3 April 2012
By 
Trevor Willsmer (London, England) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
1970's The McKenzie Break offers a rather neat reversal of the usual P.O.W. movie formula, following the guards' attempts to uncover the prisoner's escape plan rather than rooting for the inmates. But then, in another reversal, these P.O.W.s aren't Allies but Germans, led by Helmut Griem's fanatical Nazi who thinks nothing of killing weaklings who don't fit in with his Aryan ideals, while Brian Keith is the `corrupt and ill-assorted' Irish captain trying to unravel just what he's up to. It's a gripping game of cat and mouse as the two try to outwit and outthink each other, and it's a surprisingly smart one, though it wears its intelligence lightly. The opening scene as a standoff escalates into a riot establishes both the situation and the tensions between the different branches of the services in the camps with the minimum of fuss while Lamont Johnson's direction takes its cue from the covert signals the prisoners give each other. The camp itself is a believably barren and muddy "understaffed, ill-mannered outpost of military mediocrities" nominally commanded by Ian Hendry, avoiding lapsing into stereotype as the unimaginatively professional British commander all too aware that the camp is really run by Griem, who has managed to turn into a microcosm of Nazi Germany, complete with torchlight rallies and purges.

In many ways it sounds like one of those multi-national productions thrown as a tax dodge, with an American director and star (the latter playing an Irishman), German and Irish actors (the latter playing Englishmen) in a film set in Scotland but shot in Ireland and Turkey based on an escape attempt that took place in Canada (although there was a similar failed mass escape from a camp in Bridgend, Wales). Oh yes, and the composer is Italian... Yet this is exactly the kind of picture where the clash of nationalities works in the film's favor and seems like a genuine necessity rather than to take advantage of available local funding. Along with the Italian drama The Fifth Day of Peace and the British The One That Got Away one of the few films to deal with German P.O.W.s, it never overplays its hand in the camp but it does sadly lose its grip outside it, with the escape and locating of the prisoners played out in a rather flat series of lap-dissolves that sap the film of any sense of urgency until the film rallies for the finale. The lap-dissolves aren't the only jarring moment of stylisation - there's a very curious freezeframe moment in the preparations - but for the most part Johnson resists the temptation to show off or overdo his enthusiasm for the zoom lens and just let William Norton's script do its work without unnecessary embellishment. It's not the near-classic it initially promises to be, but it's still a satisfying spin on the P.O.W. genre. The supporting cast briefly includes the recently deceased David Kelly as a very well spoken British officer and Michael Sheard, who made something of a career playing Hitler and headmasters but here plays an ill-fated engineer.

MGM/UA's DVD offers a decent widescreen transfer with the theatrical trailer the only extra.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best POW movie ever, 25 Nov 2010
By 
Ctwilliams "goblin" (UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
A criminally underrated and relatively unknown POW escape classic with a twist. This time it's the Germans who are attempting to escape from a British POW camp set in a lonely part of Scotland during World War 2. Helmut Griem is wholly convincing as the fanatical U boat commander, effectively controlling the camp and the escape with a murderous iron authority. In contrast a seemingly bemused yet alert Captain and Irish charmer (Brian Keith) is sent to the camp by British intelligence to restore authority and thwart his plans. The POWs game of cat and mouse with the camp authorities is enhanced by taught direction and attention to period detail throughout. The cinematography of the dark camp, lonely Scottish villages and expansive coastal scenery is memorable and adds to the escape drama. And who can forget the reverberating German marching song (Erika) sang by the prisoners at the start of the movie. Easily the most convincing, intelligent and engaging POW movie I've seen. 5 stars.
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5.0 out of 5 stars classic war film, 14 April 2014
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This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
great classic type of British war film, some top actors, plausible story and realistic plot, great special affects, been wanting to se this film for the last 20 years
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5.0 out of 5 stars My expectations of a good DVD, 22 Oct 2013
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This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
Excellent film. Good quality DVD.

Very enjoyable & worthy the time.

I will recommend this to my friends and associates.
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4.0 out of 5 stars good., 5 Oct 2013
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decent script and actors make this highly watchable, although a seemingly little known film, it is a lot better than a lot of other pow escape ones.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just how I remembered it!, 25 July 2013
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This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
Moody, gritty, and great performances. Forget that it is the Germans against the Allies, for me the story captures the desire of military men to escape captivity using the time available to them to be ingenious in order to stay one step ahead of their captors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A superior POW drama, 20 Nov 2010
By 
WSH (NSW Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
This taut, keenly-paced film is, in many ways, superior to better-known POW escape epics, such as "The Great Escape". The action starts from the get-go and never lets up. The contest of wits between the British intelligence officer, played by Brian Keith, and the German senior officer, Helmut Griem, is well developed, and the scenario always rings true, but the best thing about this film is the ending. It is worth getting there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting to see a film about German prisoners of war ..., 30 July 2014
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This review is from: The Mckenzie Break [DVD] (DVD)
Interesting to see a film about German prisoners of war in the uk during ww2, in fact the only one I've seen.
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The Mckenzie Break [DVD]
The Mckenzie Break [DVD] by Lamont Johnson (DVD - 2004)
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