The Great Escaper is a 2023 biographical drama film directed by Oliver Parker, written by William Ivory, and starring Michael Caine and Glenda Jackson. It is based on the true story of 89-year-old British World War II Royal Navy veteran Bernard Jordan who in June 2014 “broke out” of his nursing home to attend the 70th anniversary D-Day commemorations in France.
Another forthcoming film based on Jordan’s story, The Last Rifleman starring Pierce Brosnan, is also expected to be released in 2023.
The Great Escaper had its world premiere in London at BFI Southbank on 20 September 2023, and was released in the United Kingdom on 6 October 2023, by Warner Bros. Pictures. This was the final film for both lead actors: Jackson died in June 2023, nine months after she finished filming her part, and Caine retired from acting in October 2023.
- Michael Caine as Bernard (Bernie) Jordan
- Will Fletcher as young Bernard Jordan
- Glenda Jackson as Irene (Rene) Jordan, Bernard’s wife
- Laura Marcus as young Irene Jordan
- John Standing as Arthur
- Jackie Clune as Judith, manager of the care home
- Danielle Vitalis as Adele, a care home worker
- Brennan Reece as Martin, a care home worker
- Wolf Kahler as Heinrich
- Ian Conningham as LCT Commander Parker
- Donald Sage Mackie as Nathan
- Carlyss Peer as Vicky
- Isabella Domville as Susan Everard
- Joe Bone as Tim
- Victor Oshin as Scott
The film was announced in February 2021, and was scheduled to be shot in June of that year. Principal photography commenced the following year, on 8 September 2022, and director Oliver Parker noted that Glenda Jackson “shot almost all her big scenes in the first twelve days”. The French street scene was filmed in Church Street, Twickenham. In early October 2022 filming was taking place in East Sussex, at Camber Sands and Hastings.
The film was shot entirely in the UK, to minimise the travelling involved and the COVID-19 risk to the older cast. John Standing, who appears in the film, claimed it was due to Brexit restrictions, a claim denied by Pathé, one of the film’s main production companies. At the time of filming, Caine was 89 and Jackson was 86. They had last made a film together 47 years earlier, The Romantic Englishwoman (1975).
Parker screened the finished film for Caine and Jackson a few weeks before the latter’s death on 15 June 2023.
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