The Great Escape II: The Untold Story: VHS Vs. Network TV Version

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In it’s original broadcasts, this TV movie had ran nearly 3 hours in two parts. However, when released on VHS, the distributor cut out half of the footage. Many scenes were removed, most of which are detrimental to the plot and character development. Some characters were completely removed from the VHS. This broadcast comes from a recording from Channel 9 in Australia. The TV version’s video quality is quite low as well a low buzz can be heard.

  

Difference Report:

Part 1:

0:00

The network TV version contains several deleted scenes. It starts off with John escaping the Stulag Luft III at night. He begins sneaking around the forest, where he gets the attention of a soldier in a motorcycle. Making a run for it, he loses the soldier after his motorcycle crashes attempting to cross a ditch. John ends up in a train station, where he jots down the times of the train schedule. A guard notices and questions, which results in John walking away. He is able to avoid the guard and goes into the town. There, a dog approaches John and John feeds him the piece of paper with the train schedule.  He walks around the town, eating an apple and observes several members of the Hitler Youth. John goes into the center of the group and admits he had escaped. The children all point guns at John. In the next scene, Mike’s plane is shot down. He deploys his parachute and lands right into a group of German soldiers. They capture him. The credits play. The next scene involves Mike getting transported by the German soldiers. He tries to strike up a conversation with a soldier. Then, a fighter jet ambushes the convoy. The German soldiers ditch the transport to take cover under the bridge. Mike is able to escape. The Germans unleash trackers dog to capture Mike. Mike climbs up a tree, but is surrounded by the soldiers and is forced to surrender. Mike is then transported to the camp and placed in a cell. He looks out of his cell and sees John. The two talk about how they got into the camp. John is then escorted out of his cell and is placed in the Colonel von Lindeiner’s office. The Colonel scolds John for escaping, and talks the Luftwaffe handing over escaped prisoners to the Gestapo. John then leaves the Colonel’s office, but not before the Colonel notes that he was caught by the Hitler Youth. John meets up with Roger outside at the camp, where they walk to their barracks. He then tells the train times to another prisoner off the top of his head. The prisoner jots them down on a piece of paper while another prisoner warns them of a guard approaching. The guard enters the room and informs John that the Colonel wants the clothes he is wearing. The next scene involves two prisoners, MacKenzie and Tom, digging their tunnel. In the yard, John and the prisoners talk about their suspicions with a guard. Then, roll call begins, which causes the prisoners to scramble as they try to pull out of the two prisoners who are digging the tunnels. The prisoners make it out, cleaned and in uniform, to the relief of John and Roger. The VHS has an alternate placement of the credits, where it’s put in as the prisoners are lining up for roll call

Network TV Version:

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VHS:

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18:31

The network TV version contains a longer shot of John and Roger looking at Colonel von Lindeiner and several deleted scenes. The first scene begins with the German guards ransacking the barracks to find the tunnels. However the guards do no find the tunnels and end up finding a taunting note, which angers Max. At night, the group discusses about when to execute the escape.  They talk to Jim about the travel documents and about spreading Europe. John brings up to what the Colonel told him while he was being scolded about the Luftwaffe handing over escaped prisoners to the Gestapo. He warns they could be shot if they are caught. A prisoner notes that it’s just a threat and they are bluffing. In the morning, Max and Mike are talking about not causing trouble the camps, as he warns they have guns. Mike then walks around and then observes as some of the prisoners are singing in a choir. He approaches John and formally introduces himself. They converse, where John reveals he’s a cousin of Winston Churchill. Mike then starts giving advice on how to escape from the camp, to which John denies. Mike states it’s possible to break out with around 10-15 people. John decides to introduce Mike to the group, where they talk about how Mike ended up in the camp. When Mike begins to talk about escaping, the group decides to show Mike their tunnel. They show them their tunnel they’ve been digging and tell him about how they’ve been digging. John explains to Mike that the prisoners digging are dumping the dirt secretly through their pants in the fields. He then explains the code word “X”, where they then watch as prisoners play ball. At night, Roger tells Mike that there is no space for him, to which Mike offers to help dig. Mike is then see digging with Mackenzie. A German guard questions Mackenzie while he is showering the next morning, asking where they are digging their new tunnels. Mackenzie jokes around, saying that they’ve digging upwards, which annoys the German guard. Jim goes to Roger about the forged documents being ready. Mike observes Hake creating compasses and is impressed by his craftsmanship. The VHS has a “PART I” added in.

Network TV Version:

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VHS:

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31:00

The network TV version contains a deleted scene with the group talking about of the prisoners being unable to escape as he is still stuck in the infirmary. John says he knows a suitable replacement.

Network TV Version:

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35:50

The network TV version removes some footage of John pulling the prisoner before crashing into the tunnels.

VHS:

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41:26

The network TV version contains a longer shot of the German soldiers rushing to the gates and a deleted scene. The deleted scene takes place in Hamburg, where Dr. Absalon enters a police station and talks to the police commander about handing over the prisoners to the Gestapo. The police commander objects, stating that he will hand them over to the German military. Dr. Absalon states that he will be running the military camps and walks out.

Network TV Version:

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47:37

The network TV version contains two deleted scenes. The first scene begins with Roger, Mike and John walking across Breslau. A French worker offers them food, which at first they decline, but then accepts it. The French worker then offers them a ride on his wagon, to which they also accept. In the police station, a German police officer tells the police commander that the next message is only for him. Every other officer evacuates the room and it’s revealed that under Hitler’s orders, every captured officer must be turned over to the Gestapo.

Network TV Version:

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50:42

The network TV version contains a deleted scene with a German officer giving the French worker money for ratting out Roger, Mike and John. Once the German soldiers and the prisoners leave, the French worker is chased by the French farmhands with weapon. He is then cornered by the barn and begins pleading for his life.

Network TV Version:

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52:40

The network TV version contains a longer shot of Burchart in his office, reviewing the captured prisoner’s file.

Network TV version:

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54:17

The network TV version contains a longer shot of Roger, Mike and John being escorted into the prison. Then plays a deleted scene with Roger, Mike and John being interrogated by a German lawyer. The German lawyer warns them that they could be treated as spies, where spies are usually executed. Then, there’s an additional shot of Roger, Mike and John being escorted to their cells.

Network TV Version:

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57:47

The network TV version contains a longer shot of Captain Massey asking a prisoner to help him find out if the others had escaped, followed by a deleted scene. In this, a German officer named Franz is talking to his friend about the escapees. His friend doesn’t believe that there aren’t’ many that have been recaptured, despite what Franz says. Franz then says that many more have been recaptured, but his friend questions why they haven’t been returned to the camps yet.

Network TV Version:
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1:00:13

The network TV version contains an extended scene where, under the order of Hermann Göring,  the Colonel is relieved of duty from the prison. Dr. Absalon then tells him a car will be waiting for him outside.

Network TV Version:

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1:02:53

The network TV version contains an extended scene with Burchart checking if all the prisoners are dead before ordering the Gestapo to take away their bodies.

Network TV Version:

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1:04:18

The network TV version contains several deleted scenes. John smuggles in a newspaper into his cell from the washroom garbage, which he reads. In the night, while John and Wings are digging a tunnel to escape, John recalls them. MacKenzie helps pull them out and they all climb back up. John reveals that, according to the newspaper, 50 of the escapees had resisted arrest or had attempted to escape. He then reveals all 50 of the escapees were shot and had died. Mike reads some of the names, to which they learn that Roger was among the 50 that was killed. Mike refuses to believe the newspaper and throws the newspaper out of anger. John decides to hold a vote on whether or not they should continue digging, to which all of them decide to continue digging the tunnel and escape out rather than staying in prison. John begins to dig furiously. Meanwhile, Franz inspects a truck, which reveals to be the urns of the 50 escapees. Colonel von Lindeiner is then executed for his failure to prevent the mass escape. Finally, there’s one additional shot of Wings and Mike digging.

Network TV Version:

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