The Wooden Horse (1950)

Genres - Adventure, Drama, War  |   Sub-Genres - Adventure Drama, Docudrama, Escape Film, War Drama  |   Release Date - Oct 16, 1950 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 101 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

While it lacks the tension and visceral excitement of later "camp escape movies" like The Great Escape, The Wooden Horse has a certain distinct character that makes it stand out from other films in the genre. The very "stiff upper lip" style may strike those looking for out-and-out action as a bit odd, but it actually adds greatly to the particular flavor of this fine film. And while, like most films of this type, it sugarcoats the brutality of the POW camps, it doesn't make it into a Hogan's Heroes-type laughfest. Eric Williams' screenplay is taut, and features a nice underplayed tone to it that in the end heightens its dramatic situations by refusing to belabor them. The basic premise of the horse as the distraction which enables the escape seems so unbelievable, but its basis in reality adds another layer to the movie. Jack Lee's direction is quite but effective, as are the finely wrought characterizations turned in by Leo Genn, David Tomlinson and Anthony Steel. Throw in some dramatically effective lensing by C.M. Pennington-Richards, and the result is a fine, rewarding real-life yarn.