The Birdmen

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The Birdmen
Screenplay byDavid Kidd
Directed by Philip Leacock
Starring Doug McClure
Narrated by Charles Aidman
Music by David Rose
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
Producers Harve Bennett
Harry Tatelman
Cinematography Jack A. Marta
EditorsRobert F. Shugrue
Gene Palmer
Running time74 min.
Production company Universal Pictures
Distributor ABC
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (syndication)
Original releaseSeptember 18, 1971 (1971-09-18)

The Birdmen, also known as Escape of the Birdmen and Colditz: Escape of the Birdmen, is a 1971 television film directed by Philip Leacock and starring Doug McClure and René Auberjonois. It was a fictionalized account based on a proposed scheme for prisoners of war to escape from Colditz Castle by a clandestinely constructed glider christened the Colditz Cock. The film appeared on the ABC Movie of the Week on September 18, 1971. [1] The film was shot at Universal Studios Hollywood and released theatrically in several countries.



O.S.S. agent Major Cook is assigned to take Halden Brevik, a Norwegian scientist with knowledge about the atomic bomb, out of occupied Europe to the Allies. The pair are captured, but their cover story, that they are escaped Allied air force prisoners of war, is believed by the Germans, and they are sent to the "escape-proof" Beckstadt Castle. Cook plots escape, while keeping the scientist's true identity from both the Germans and his fellow prisoners.

Cook comes up with an escape plan to fly out of the castle all the way to nearby Switzerland. A glider is built in secret in an attic, which will be able to take two men out. With the Germans closing in, Cook has to reveal Brevik's true identity and importance to the other prisoners in order that Brevik be one of the escapees. The other P.O.W.'s suspect Cook of lying to them, but fortunately one of them turns out to be a commando who had been captured (and also blinded) during the failed attempt to extract Brevik from Norway; he confirms Brevik's identity. Cook gets injured and cannot fly the glider, so he gives up his seat to Colonel Crawford, his strongest doubter, who hitherto he has had a strained relationship with. The prisoners knock out a wall and, with Crawford piloting, successfully launch the glider.




  1. pp. 54 Karol, Michael The ABC Movie of the Week Companion: A Loving Tribute to the Classic Series iUniverse, 2008

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