The stiff jawline of Lithuanian-American Charles Bronson is an attraction for filmmakers, and will feature his famous roles in films like the epic Once Upon a Time in the West” by Sergio Leone and the movie “Death Wish”. His bravery was so influential that a notorious criminal named himself after the actor (Nicholas Winding Refn recorded it spectacularly), and Quentin Tarantino“Reservoir Dogs” has some praise for his performance on “The Great Escape.”
Flight lieutenant Danny “The Tunnel King” Welinski is a soft spot in Sturges’ war drama, a gentle echo of Bronson’s longing and the swashbuckling gunman in “The Magnificent Seven”. An immigrant from Nazi-occupied Poland, Danny sets out for England to bring the war back to the Germans. There’s little shame in him being captured by the Nazis so many times, but he’s very proud of the 17 escape tunnels he dug during the war. His experience made him the key man in designing the underground getaway on each of the camp’s three tunnels, named Tom, Dick, and Harry. Such an experience is not without adversity; The threat of a tunnel collapse made Danny extremely suffocated, a fear that before child coal miner Bronson can draw from his own life. Watch him in action:
Bronson’s tight upper lip provides some counterpoint to his emotional moments; Sturges used Bronson’s serious line distribution for one of the funniest breakout in the whole movie.
Ultimately, Danny’s efforts along with fellow tunnel king, Flight Lieutenant Willie Dickes (John Leyton) resulted in 76 men breaking the perimeter. Bronson would go on to have memorable roles in European and European war films like Robert Aldrich’s “The Dirty Dozen,” which eventually became an international star in the 1970s. However, don’t. let the vulnerable shoulders fool you; he’s still the monstrous Charles’ Bronson.
https://www.slashfilm.com/1082850/john-sturges-wanted-the-great-escape-to-show-charles-bronsons-softer-side/ John Sturges wanted a great escape to show the softer side of Charles Bronson