McKenzie Break [1970]

McKenzie is a remote, understaffed POW camp in Scotland, where an assortment of German fliers, U-boat men, and soldiers are being held prisoner. The restive POWs stage a well-orchestrated uprising in which they essentially take over the camp. When word of the prisoners' siege gets back to British military higher-ups, they assign rogue Irish officer Captain Connor (Brian Keith) to get to the bottom of things. The Germans have been receiving orders directly from Berlin that call for 28 of the submariners to escape and return to the Deutschland's U-boat fleet. The Germans are led by Schl├╝tter (Helmut Griem), an intelligent, articulate graduate of the Hitler Youth; they have devised an elaborate tunnel and a plot to take them to the Scottish coast, where they will rendezvous with a U-boat to take them back to Germany. The hard-drinking Connor learns of the plan, and stakes his career on letting the Germans escape and tracking them down. Keith is excellent as Connor (though his Irish brogue comes and goes), locked into a three-way battle of wills with the determined Schl├╝tter and the stuffy, by-the-book CO of the camp. The movie's pace and suspense swell as Connor's gambit plays out and the Germans make good their escape plans, all set against the breathtaking scenery of rural Scotland. With intelligent, believable characters and tough direction, this is a sorely neglected World War II POW drama that compares well with better-known films such as Stalag 17 and The Great Escape. --Jerry Renshaw

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