The Great Escape had more veracity than the Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare for sure, but now I prefer them. In tall tales, I should not expect authenticity. I mean look at the bike (above); it's a modified Triumph, but I'm not fussed about that, it is that whole aura of the 'playing fields of England' that gets to me. The idea of The Great Escape as propaganda, in the early sixties (!) and just like James Bond, but not James Bond, not an individual ostensibly from nowhere, but a whole load of public schoolboys placed in their own camp, with their tuck boxes (parcels) and 'Tunnel Kings' and 'Forgers'. And that the Germans are too stupid to see beyond a sudden interest in gardening or Christmas carol singing or bloody bird watching. They all seem to be playing it like children and I suspect that was the point. If you are interested in fashion you are gay, and have 'chaps' secretly working across the camp on disguises. See what I mean? It's really quite pathetic, it's also why you have to raise the American flag to create the hero, because this bunch of premature upper class twits just can't manage it. And the Scots are short, and unstable, and subservient.
Meanwhile, all credit to those guys who really did ride German trains with no idea of what they were doing or where they were. This demanded play acting on a different scale. Every time I get on a German train I think of that.
PS: Sadly I was not aware on posting this that Richard Attenborough died today. Not so much a lapse of judgement; but certainly bad timing.