Victory (1981)

PG | 116 mins | Drama, Adventure | 31 July 1981

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HISTORY

The 6 Jul 1979 DV announced that Brian Hutton would direct Victory for producer Freddie Fields. Hutton had previously directed two World War II era movies, Where Eagles Dare (1968, see entry) and Kelly’s Heros (1970, see entry), both of which starred actor Clint Eastwood. The article speculated that Eastwood would also star in Victory. However, Eastwood was not cast, and Hutton did not remain with the project.
       An item in the 14 Sep 1979 DV reported that actor Alain Delon was cast in the film, now titled Escape to Victory. However, the actor did not participate in the project.
       The 27 Sep 1979 DV stated that director John Huston would helm the film, starring Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone. The 20 Feb 1980 Var reported that Brazilian soccer star, Pelé, would make his feature film acting debut in the film. Pelé also designed the film’s soccer action. Production notes in AMPAS library files report that Pelé, soccer player Bobby Moore, and eighteen other world-class soccer players were cast in the film. A 3 Jun 1980 United Artists press release in AMPAS files announced that actor Desmond Llewelyn, best known for portraying the character “Q” in the James Bond film series, would serve as a technical advisor. Llewelyn had been an officer with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during World War II, was captured on 27 May 1940, and spent five years in German prison camps. However, Llewelyn is not credited on the film.
       The 14 Sep 1979 DV ... More Less

The 6 Jul 1979 DV announced that Brian Hutton would direct Victory for producer Freddie Fields. Hutton had previously directed two World War II era movies, Where Eagles Dare (1968, see entry) and Kelly’s Heros (1970, see entry), both of which starred actor Clint Eastwood. The article speculated that Eastwood would also star in Victory. However, Eastwood was not cast, and Hutton did not remain with the project.
       An item in the 14 Sep 1979 DV reported that actor Alain Delon was cast in the film, now titled Escape to Victory. However, the actor did not participate in the project.
       The 27 Sep 1979 DV stated that director John Huston would helm the film, starring Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone. The 20 Feb 1980 Var reported that Brazilian soccer star, Pelé, would make his feature film acting debut in the film. Pelé also designed the film’s soccer action. Production notes in AMPAS library files report that Pelé, soccer player Bobby Moore, and eighteen other world-class soccer players were cast in the film. A 3 Jun 1980 United Artists press release in AMPAS files announced that actor Desmond Llewelyn, best known for portraying the character “Q” in the James Bond film series, would serve as a technical advisor. Llewelyn had been an officer with the Royal Welsh Fusiliers during World War II, was captured on 27 May 1940, and spent five years in German prison camps. However, Llewelyn is not credited on the film.
       The 14 Sep 1979 DV reported the filmmakers considered locations in Ireland, Austria, Germany, England, and Canada. An article in the 11 Aug 1981 HR reported the film was shot entirely on location in Hungary. Producer Fields stated that shooting the film in the communist country cost “less than half the estimated budgets given by four other countries.” He noted that budget estimates for filming in the United States or Sweden ranged from $30 million to $35 million. The cost of filming in Hungary was $12 million. Fields also chose Budapest, Hungary, because it was reportedly designed as “Paris East,” and continued to maintain a World War II era look, unlike Paris. Production notes report that five interior sets were built at Mafilm Studios, the production base of the Hungarian Film Company. A three-acre prison set was constructed on the grounds of the Allag Riding Stables, located near Budapest, and Hungary’s MTK Stadium was chosen to substitute for Colombes Stadium in Paris, France. Other locations included the Budapest central train station, and a country train station in the village of Fot, Hungary.
       According to the 21 May 1980 HR, principal photography would begin 26 May 1980. In Jul 1980, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) went on strike, and the 29 Jul 1980 DV reported Escape to Victory shut down filming due to the SAG strike. The Dec 1980 Playboy reported the film only had five days left of principal photography. The filmmakers had a deal with the Hungarian government for twelve consecutive weeks of production, and the government might not let the filmmakers resume work after the strike was settled. An item in the 20 Aug 1980 Var noted that filming on the planned Hungarian locations could only be resumed if the strike was settled within thirty days, and the filmmakers were forced to consider moving to another location in Western Europe, which would incur a “considerable cost overrun.” The 27 Aug 1980 Var reported that John Huston was traveling to Paris, France, where he hoped to complete filming. However, according to the Dec 1980 Playboy, producer Fields signed an interim agreement with SAG, and was allowed to finish principal photography in Hungary. The 28 Aug 1980 DV announced that Escape to Victory would resume production in Budapest on 31 Aug 1980.
       An item in the 12 May 1981 HR stated the film’s title was changed to Victory.
       The film was released domestically on 31 Jul 1981, and the 4 Jan 1982 DV reported the film was an “indifferent box-office performer” in the United States and Britain, but opened to a “stellar” box-office gross of $2,786,000 in six foreign territories in Dec 1981. Victory was among the films listed in the Dec 1981 Rolling Stone article, “Big Bucks, Big Losers, Twenty-four Films that Bombed in 1981.” The article noted the film’s production budget was $12 million and domestic rentals-to-date were $5 million.
       End credits include the following statement: “The producer wishes to thank Bobby Moore, Werner Roth, Mike Summerbee, Judit Somogyi, Otto Elek, Gary Chandler and their staffs, John Watson and Pen Densham, Mario Machado, Michael Jackson, and the New York Cosmos.” More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1979.
---
Daily Variety
14 Sep 1979.
---
Daily Variety
27 Sep 1979.
---
Daily Variety
29 Jul 1980.
---
Daily Variety
28 Aug 1980.
---
Daily Variety
4 Jan 1982
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
21 May 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
12 May 1981.
---
Hollywood Reporter
20 Jul 1981
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Aug 1981
p. 1, 4.
Los Angeles Times
31 Jul 1981
p. 1.
New York Times
31 Jul 1981
p. 6.
Playboy
Dec 1980.
---
Rolling Stone
Dec 1981
p. 44.
Variety
20 Feb 1980.
---
Variety
20 Aug 1980.
---
Variety
27 Aug 1980.
---
Variety
22 Jul 1981
p. 18.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Lorimar Presents
A Freddie Fields Production
A John Huston Film
A Co-Production of The Victory Company and Tom Stern
In Association With Andy Vajna and Mario Kassar
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d unit dir, 2d unit
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Key grip
Cam, 2d unit
Op, 2d unit
Op, 2d unit
Op, 2d unit
Op, 2d unit
Op, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Cam asst, 2d unit
Grip, 2d unit
Slow motion eng, 2d unit
1st asst, 2d unit
Asst, 2d unit
Still photog
Still photog
ART DIRECTOR
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Prop master
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus supv
SOUND
Supv sd ed
Sd ed
Sd mixer
Boom op
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Sd consultant
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Soccer plays des by
Asst to Mr. Fields
Asst to Mr. Fields
Asst to Mr. Huston
Prod coord
Prod coord
Prod asst
Scr supv
Dial coach
Prod trainee
Player consultant
Tech adv
Pub coord
Pub secy
Prod accountant
COLOR PERSONNEL
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Escape to Victory
Release Date:
31 July 1981
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 31 July 1981
Production Date:
began 26 May 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Victory Film Partnership
Copyright Date:
17 November 1981
Copyright Number:
PA120147
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo®
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex® camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
116
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26327
SYNOPSIS

In a World War II German Prisoner of War (POW) camp, an allied officer is killed while attempting to escape. German Major Karl Von Steiner accompanies the Red Cross to the camp to investigate the incident. He observes several prisoners, including American POW, Captain Robert Hatch, playing soccer. Von Steiner played for the German team prior to the war and recognizes their coach, Captain John Colby, as a former English soccer player. Colby reveals the POWs have set up a league, and insists his team would “demolish” the Germans in a game. Von Steiner challenges Colby’s team to a game with the team from a nearby German army base. Colby is reluctant because his men do not have proper equipment. Von Steiner offers to provide the necessary gear, and agrees to Colby’s demands for special conditions and rations. Colby insists the game cannot be for officers only, and wants a decent team so they have a fair chance. Hatch meets with the British Escape Committee, led by Colonel Waldron and Major Rose, and proposes an escape plan. Robert Hatch has noticed the two soldiers guarding the showers are careless, and feels he could easily escape. If the other POWs covered for him during roll call, it would be days before anyone knew he was gone. The officers promise to consider the plan. Waldron and Rose ask Colby to help his team escape, insisting it is his duty as an officer, but Colby does not want to get his players killed and refuses. Colby holds trials to choose his team. Brazilian player, Luis Fernandez, astounds ... +


In a World War II German Prisoner of War (POW) camp, an allied officer is killed while attempting to escape. German Major Karl Von Steiner accompanies the Red Cross to the camp to investigate the incident. He observes several prisoners, including American POW, Captain Robert Hatch, playing soccer. Von Steiner played for the German team prior to the war and recognizes their coach, Captain John Colby, as a former English soccer player. Colby reveals the POWs have set up a league, and insists his team would “demolish” the Germans in a game. Von Steiner challenges Colby’s team to a game with the team from a nearby German army base. Colby is reluctant because his men do not have proper equipment. Von Steiner offers to provide the necessary gear, and agrees to Colby’s demands for special conditions and rations. Colby insists the game cannot be for officers only, and wants a decent team so they have a fair chance. Hatch meets with the British Escape Committee, led by Colonel Waldron and Major Rose, and proposes an escape plan. Robert Hatch has noticed the two soldiers guarding the showers are careless, and feels he could easily escape. If the other POWs covered for him during roll call, it would be days before anyone knew he was gone. The officers promise to consider the plan. Waldron and Rose ask Colby to help his team escape, insisting it is his duty as an officer, but Colby does not want to get his players killed and refuses. Colby holds trials to choose his team. Brazilian player, Luis Fernandez, astounds everyone with his kicking skills and makes the team. Robert Hatch keeps trying, but is not chosen to play. When Colby yells at him to stop using American techniques, such as tackling, Hatch quits. He subsequently learns that his escape plans have been approved. Hatch’s photograph is taken with a jury-rigged camera, and the forger promises to have his passport ready soon. Meanwhile, Von Steiner defends his plan to his superiors. When they learn Germany has never beaten an English team, they realize the match could be a useful propaganda tool. Later, Von Steiner informs Colby that the situation has escalated out of their control. The German National team will play the combined prisoners of war team at the Colombes Stadium in Nazi-occupied Paris, France. Von Steiner hands Colby a list of the strongest POW players, but Colby notices there are no Eastern European players, and learns those men are in labor camps. Colby claims the Eastern Europeans are strong players and he needs their participation to have a fair chance in the match. Von Steiner tells Colby to make his list of Eastern European players and he will see what can be done. New members of Colby’s team arrive from other camps, and the players move into their own barracks. Robert Hatch is upset when the careless guards are reassigned to the soccer team. He packs his bag and moves to the team’s barracks, claiming he is their trainer. Colby does not want Hatch’s participation and tosses his bag outside. Hatch reveals he can only execute his escape plan if he stays with the team, and Colby lets him back in. The team’s new equipment and clothing arrives, and Colby starts a tough regimen of exercise and practice. When the five Eastern European players arrive, they are skeletal and weak. Waldron is upset that Colby insisted on these players. Angry, Colby wonders if Waldron wants to send these men back to the labor camps? Waldron declares the match to be a German propaganda ploy, and reveals that London officials have decreed that no British officer would participate. Colby informs his team that he is responsible for the Eastern Europeans participation and if the team does not play, they will be sent back. The team unanimously agrees to play. During practice, Hatch fills in as goal keeper and Colby notices his ability in that position. When Hatch’s fake passport is ready, Waldron states the escape is now part of a larger plan. They ask him not to share the plan with Colby, and Hatch agrees to contact the French Resistance and arrange for the escape of the entire team in Paris, if feasible. Later, Colby distracts the guards, and Hatch escapes from the shower room. The next morning, his teammates use a dummy to cover for him during roll call. Hatch meets with members of the French Resistance, and they think it might be possible to arrange an escape through the sewers beneath the stadium. Hatch stays with a widow, Renee, and her young son while the Resistance members investigate the sewer tunnels. They find a pipe beneath the stadium and determine they can break into the visitor’s dressing room. Hatch heads back to camp to share the escape plan. Meanwhile, at the next roll call, the dummy’s head falls off and the Germans discover Hatch’s escape. Von Steiner wants Colby’s word that the team will not attempt an escape. Colby refuses to promise, and Von Steiner insists they will be well-guarded. When Hatch is caught and returned to camp, he is placed in solitary confinement. However, he signals to Waldron that he has a message. Waldron informs Colby that Hatch was sent to Paris to arrange the team’s escape, but will be in solitary confinement until after the match. Colby is reluctant to help, but Waldron insists the escape will save the Eastern Europeans from a torturous fate after the game. Colby informs Von Steiner that their goal keeper, Tony, broke his arm, and they need Hatch to take his place. Von Steiner insists the camp doctor must verify the broken arm first. Tony allows Colby to break his arm, and Hatch is back on the team. The heavily guarded stadium is full of German soldiers and French citizens, including Renee and her son. For propaganda purposes, Waldron and Rose are also forced to attend. In the sewer below, Resistance members tunnel toward the visitor’s dressing room. Von Steiner is upset to learn the referee will make certain the Germans prevail, and insists he gave his word that it would be a fair match. However, his superior declares the Germans must win. As the teams enter the stadium, Renee’s son runs onto the field with a bouquet of flowers. He hands it to Hatch and tells him the escape is all set. When the German team scores the first goal, the radio commentator claims the crowd is going wild and airs fake applause as the actual crowd remains silent. The Germans score a second goal, and a POW is hurt during a subsequent play. However, the referee calls a penalty against the POW team. A German player gets to kick one-on-one against Hatch, who is unable to block it. As the game continues, the Germans score again. Although Luis Fernandez is badly hurt and Hatch gets kicked in the head, the POW team gets control of the ball and scores. During the break between halves, the Resistance men arrive in the locker room and the team learns of the escape plan. However, several players insist they can beat the Germans and do not want to leave. Colby is excited by their drive, and Luis Fernandez declares they lose more than a game if they run. To the surprise of Waldron and Rose, the reinvigorated team returns to the field. As the game continues, the crowd goes wild when the POWs score. When they score a tying goal, however, the referee disallows it. Luis Fernandez insists on returning to the field despite his injuries and with four minutes left, he scores a second tying goal. To the annoyance of his superiors, Von Steiner stands and applauds. The crowd chants “Victory” as the game continues. With one minute left, the referee declares a penalty against the POW team. The German player gets another one-on-one kick against Hatch, who blocks it this time. The overjoyed crowd forces their way onto the field, knocking German soldiers out of their way. The French citizens swarm the team, cover them with jackets, and force their way out of the stadium. Von Steiner smiles from the stands as he watches the team escape. In the crowd, Renee finds Hatch and hugs him as they leave. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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