The One That Got Away (1957)

82% – Critics
82% – Audience

The One That Got Away Storyline

The exploits of Franz von Werra early during WWII are dramatized. A German Luftwaffe pilot, he, shot down, is forced to make an emergency landing in Kent, England on September 5th, 1940, he captured by the British authorities who are aware of his celebrated status at home for his military efforts. Partly a result of how he is interrogated and partly believing it his duty as a German officer, von Werra is determined not only to escape but to make it back to Germany so that he can report back what he’s learned to assist further in the German war effort. After the first such attempt, the British make it harder and harder for von Werra to escape, which only makes him more determined and more brazen in his actions to accomplish his goal.—Huggo

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The One That Got Away Movie Reviews

Cult Movies 26

26. THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY (war, 1958) During air raids on Britain during WW2 German Lt. Von Warren’s (Hardy Kruger) plane is shot down. He’s captured and made a P.O.W. He repeatedly tries to escape but to no avail. Undaunted in his efforts he finally succeeds but has to survive the long and dangerous trek back to Germany.

Critique: Although the title is a bit of a giveaway, this is one of the most intriguing of war films, a substitute to the countless Americanized versions of P.O.Ws. The picture is perfectly paced adding to the excitement and suspense. Based on a true story of the only German to escape from an allied camp, it has beautiful crisp black and white photography. What makes it a standout in film history though is the fact that a German soldier is made the hero here.

Actor Hardy Krugers’ portrayal is an unusual mix of boyish charm, and cockiness. The film is virtually flawless except for the screenwriter’s depiction of Von Warren. They make him so much likable and appealing (funnier) than the Brits that one walks out rooting for him. I mean isn’t he the enemy? One of Hitler’s tools of war?

Furthermore, it’s disturbing to learn that Von Warren returns home but goes back to the front and dies fighting the Allies. This little known film is hard to get on video (though I’ve seen a re-released copy), so your best shot is to catch it on TV.

QUOTE: Von Warren: “It’s the duty of an officer to try and escape.”

Grit And Determination

About forty years after The One That Got Away came out, another film involving the escape of a German national from Allied hands with another fair haired lead became my favorite film with Brad Pitt. Seven Years in Tibet was done with a much larger budget, but involves the same test of human endurance and escape that Hardy Kruger goes through here.

Probably for the first time in British cinema a German during World War II was made a three dimensional human being. We don’t get any hint of Kruger’s politics, even so I think it would have been irrelevant to the story.

This incident in fact is a true one, taking place in 1940 during the first days of the Luftwaffe attacks on the United Kingdom. Kruger is determined to get back to the fight at all costs. He proves a charismatic and inspirational leader to his comrades.

Kruger makes two attempts to escape while in British custody, but it’s only over in Canada where he’s being sent to a prison near Lake Superior that he makes his most daring try. Jumping from a train taking him to internment, he walks across to America.

This is where I can appreciate the film the most. The last twenty minutes of the film are almost without dialog as Kruger is alone. What he does is reach the St. Lawrence River and it being in the middle of winter finds it frozen over. Seeing that he walks over and makes it to upstate New York.

Living as I do on one of the Great Lakes I can appreciate what that entails more than others. I’ve lived through eleven winters in Buffalo by now and some of them have been pretty bad. Lake Erie does in fact freeze over as does the St. Lawrence. I certainly wouldn’t want to try to walk across Lake Erie even if I was a 20 something as Kruger is in The One That Got Away.

No matter what you feel about the politics of World War II, you’ve got to admire this man’s grit and determination. Hardy Kruger’s impressive performance puts that over for you.

By all means see this film when TCM has it on again.

They don’t make ’em like this anymore

“The One that got away” is an outstanding World War Two adventure, based on the legendary exploits of Franz Von Werra – the only Luftwaffe Officer to escape from Allied captivity.

The film is now considered by many to be something of a minor classic, and it really isn’t difficult to see why.

What particularly impressed me, was how Roy Ward Baker managed to create a genuine empathy between Von Werra (brilliantly portrayed here by Hardy Kruger) and the audience without resorting to cliché or racial stereotyping. Accepted, Von Werra may be representing one of the most vile regimes in history but you desperately want him to succeed, and it’s real edge of the seat stuff to see if he can pull it off.

Head and shoulders above most other British war movies produced during this era, it just gets better and better every time I see it.