The One That Got Away is the fascinating true story of the only German prisoner-of-war taken in Britain who managed to escape and get back to Germany. Roy Baker’s film gave German actor Hardy Kruger his first role in a British film as Oberleutnant Franz von Werra of the Luftwaffe, captured when he crashed his Messerschmitt near a RAF station in 1940. Taken before an interrogating officer and, supremely confident of his ability to escape, he bet a magnum of champagne against ten cigarettes that he would escape in six months and made two audacious attempts to get away, first from the Lake District and then patiently burrowing his way out of a camp in the Midlands.
Finally included in a group of prisoners being transferred to Canada, he staged his third escape attempt by plunging from the train transporting him across Canada. Trekking towards the United States, suffering from frostbite and hunger, he crossed the St Lawrence River into the then neutral United States … The real von Werra reached Germany by way of Mexico, Peru and Spain where he made an invaluable report about British interrogation procedures. He returned to flying and was credited with downing eight more planes before being killed in action.
Director Roy Baker’s deliberately straightforward approach is ideally suited to the subject and makes its points by being effectively understated. Kruger himself did not think it odd that the British should make such a film. “I think”, he said, “it demonstrates the great fairness and sporting attitude of the British. I must admit that we have not in Germany so far made a similar film with a British hero.. But back at home the people say to me, ‘Look how great it is that the British made a film about one of our heroes.’ The film is splendid publicity for the British character. There is no political message in this film – neither for nor against. Otherwise I would not have played the part”.
Cast: Hardy Kruger, Michael Goodliffe, Terence Alexander, John Van Eyssen, Alec McCowen, Colin Gordon, Jack Gwillim, Andrew Faulds
Writer: Howard Clewes, from the book by Kendal Burt and James Leasor
Music: Hubert Clifford
Cinematography: Eric Cross
Producer: Julian Wintle
Director: Roy Baker
UK / Rank / 111 minutes / 1957 made in black and white