The Wooden Horse
The Wooden Horse – 1950 | 101 mins | War, Drama | B&W
In The Wooden Horse, Jack Lee brings to the screen one of the most famous true escape stories of the Second World War. Based on the Eric Williams novel The Tunnel Escape, it became the blueprint for several stereotypical adventure films that followed.
It is 1943 in Nazi Germany, and a bunch of Allied POWs in Stalag Luft III plan to adhere to the directive that it is every POWs duty to attempt escape. Prisoners Peter (Leo Genn), Phil (David Tomlinson) and John (Anthony Steel) conceive a daring escape plan derived from the Trojan horse of Greek mythology; to escape using a gymnastic vaulting horse to cover their tunnelling activities. They construct a large wooden vaulting horse, which is placed over the concealed tunnel entry in full view of the enemy guards daily.
While their fellow inmates exercise, the tunnel diggers are hidden inside the horse and enter the tunnel, then cover it up at the end of each day’s vaulting. After months of digging and narrow escapes when the tunnel caves-in or the guards search the camp, the tunnel is finally ready. The three men remain inside the tunnel until after dark, before finally breaking through the last few feet of ground to the surface beyond the fence. Peter and John travel together and are assisted by the French resistance to reach Denmark, and then on to Sweden, where they meet up again with the third escapee.
Jack Lee: Director
C.M Pennington-Richards: Cinematography
John Seabourne Sr: Editing
Peter Seabourne: Editing
Muir Mathieson: Music Direction
Clifton Parker: Original Music
Ian Dalrymple: Producer
William Kellner: Production Design
Eric Williams: Script