William Norton wrote the screenplay for The McKenzie Break and said about his movies, "I don't think your I.Q. is low enough." Mine is. Released in 1970, I caught this on TV in 1973 and loved it. 37 years later it holds up well and is screaming to be remade. Based on an actual German POW break, the film is about three very different men.
Brian Keith does a passable Irish accent and a deadly accurate flask tilt as Cpt Jack Connor. A born risk taker, a reporter before the war and no time to play by the rules during the war. He rolls the dice on allowing a POW break with the hope of nabbing the big fish.
This doesn't sit well with camp commander, Major Perry. In over his head, cowardly and perfectly suited to a long career in government, Perry is replaced by Connor and can only bitch and snitch. It's a lousy part nailed by Ian Hendry who also nailed the bad guy in Michael Caine's, Get Carter, a beautiful film from 1971 where Caine compares Hendry's eyes to, "piss holes in the snow."
Cpt Willie Schlueter comes off with a natural charm but you soon realize he'd kill his own mother to move up a rank. Helmut Griem (Max in Cabaret) reminds me of Nazis in Hans Fallada's, "Every Man Dies Alone." Charming and erudite but nothing more than a thug, but in evening clothes.
Griem, Hendry and Keith are all dead and Mr Norton just passed away. But I see these three men every day. In others and in myself. Actually, I see all three in me. I'm a risk taker but I'm also a coward and can be a thug. When I saw this film for the first time I was 15 and all I saw were the turtleneck sweaters.