Escape (1948 film)

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Escape FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Screenplay by Philip Dunne
Based onthe play Escape
by John Galsworthy
Produced by William Perlberg
Starring Rex Harrison
Peggy Cummins
William Hartnell
Cinematography Freddie Young
Edited by Alan L. Jaggs
Music by William Alwyn
Distributed by 20th Century Fox
Release dates
  • March 1948 (1948-03)(London)
  • July 30, 1948 (1948-07-30)(Los Angeles)
Running time
78 minutes
CountriesUnited Kingdom
United States

Escape is a 1948 British-American thriller film directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It follows a Royal Air Force World War II veteran (Rex Harrison) who goes to prison and then escapes and meets a woman who persuades him to surrender. The screenplay by Philip Dunne was based on the 1926 play Escape by John Galsworthy, which had previously been filmed in 1930. [1]



A former RAF squadron leader, Matt Denant, goes to Hendley, England to visit an airfield run by his friend Titch. Rodgers, an employee at the airfield, asks Matt to do him a favour by making a large wager on a horse. Matt does, but when the horse loses, Rodgers promises to repay him.

While strolling through Hyde Park, a woman strikes up a conversation with Matt, but Penter, a detective, charges her with unlawful soliciting. Matt intervenes on her behalf, but when the two men fight, Penter knocks his head on a park bench and is mortally wounded.

Matt is placed under arrest; he is then sentenced to three years in prison after Penter dies. Believing it an unjust punishment, Matt escapes. Inspector Harris of Scotland Yard is assigned to find him, while Matt takes refuge in the home of Sir James Winton, whose daughter Dora helps him hide.

Titch gives an aeroplane to Matt, enabling him to flee to France, but he is betrayed by Rodgers after the police offer a reward. Matt's plane is caught in a heavy fog and crashes. He survives and takes refuge in a farm. Dora finds him and professes her love, also persuading Matt that he must turn himself in to the law.



Critical response

Film critic A.H. Weiler of the New York Times wrote a positive review of the film, "As the harried convict, Rex Harrison gives a restrained but persuasive portrait of a man beset not only by physical but moral tribulations ... The pace of Escape, as set by director Joseph L. Mankiewicz, is, on occasion, slower than might be desired, and scenarist Philip Dunne's script is sometimes given to lengthy conversation. But these are minor flaws in an adult work, which unspectacularly and effectively does justice to a serious theme. [2]

Similarly, critic Craig Butler appreciated the film, writing, "Mankiewicz does a very good job of emphasizing the script's strong points, and he uses a number of interesting visual touches to keep things lively during discussions of morality and other weighty issues ... For his part, Harrison is in top form, finding multiple levels to play in dialogue that could easily devolve into rants and providing the kind of solid performance that is crucial to anchoring a film of this type. Neither he nor Mankiewicz can overcome the limitations of the script to make Escape a classic, but they do make it fairly engrossing." [3]

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  1. Escape at the American Film Institute Catalog.
  2. Weiler, A.H. The New York Times , film review, August 16, 1948. Accessed: August 13, 2013.
  3. Butler, Craig. Allmovie by Rovi, film review, no date. Accessed: August 13, 2013.