The Great Escape – All American Knitwear

If there ever was a genre for “good ol’ American films,” I have no doubt that The Great Escape would reign boastfully at the top of that list. It’s the ultimate World War Two era drama, pitting a rag-tag team of Allied POW’s against a flock of German soldiers that are at once both clueless and ruthless. Released in 1963, the film is a great piece of Cold War propaganda, using a tale of WWII triumph and sacrifice to remind the viewer that we must always march onward in the face of evil. Aside from its rah-rah patriotism, The Great Escape has long been heralded for its style, especially the epic motorcycle jump courtesy of Steve McQueen during the film’s finale. Of particular note for me though was the knitwear on screen, which was just as varied and roughed up as the film’s characters.

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James Garner’s looking a bit too neat in a rollneck sweater and fresh-pressed pleated pants combo, while standing next to James Coburn in a remarkably threadbare knit

As an interesting aside, it was actually The Great Escape that helped immortalize McQueen as one of Hollywood’s first “superstars,” with all the baggage that comes with such a title. The cast and crew of the film recall McQueen being¬†temperamental¬†at best and impossible at worst, as he drank, screwed, and complained his way through the shoot. Nonetheless, McQueen and the rest of his motley brigade, which included the likes of James Garner and Charles Bronson, still managed to scrap together one of the greatest war movies ever made. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you head over to Netflix and give The Great Escape a watch on the double.

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McQueen with the cutoff crewneck sweatshirt look, which a friend of mine pointed out, was possibly done out of necessity to make it easier to ride.

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McQueen with the olive drab pullover, while his friend on the left dons an unbuttoned chambray

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Charles Bronson in a patch-work crewneck aside a wool flight jacket with an interesting pullover, collared sweater

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A classic ivory colored airman’s scarf (although this one’s a bit dirty) draped over an Air Force blue cable knit

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Once again James Garner with the off-white rollneck sweater

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4 comments
  1. Most of the POWs at the real camp were British and Commonwealth. Good movie, though.

  2. I love this film. Steve McQueen is my favorite actor! That motorcycle scene at the end is legendary.

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