The McKenzie Break


1h 46m 1970

Brief Synopsis

Captive Nazis plot their escape from a Scottish prison camp.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wolfpack
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
War
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Oct 1970
Production Company
Brighton Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Bowmanville Break by Sidney Shelley (New York, 1968).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Synopsis

Captain Connor, a tough British Army officer, is called in to quell the rebellion at Camp McKenzie, a World War II prison camp in Scotland. Connor, an Irishman who has been assigned to the camp because of his disregard for military regulations, uses fire hoses to quiet the prisoners, but he suspects that the riot was fomented by the Germans to distract attention from an escape plan. His suspicions are confirmed when Neuchl, a captured pilot, is severely beaten by his fellow prisoners and incoherently mumbles about the escape. Neuchl, ostracized by the prisoners for his homosexual tendencies, is mysteriously strangled before regaining consciousness. Schluetter, a U-boat commander who has been in contact with Berlin, arranges for the escapees to board a German U-boat. A tunnel has been dug that will allow 28 of the prisoners, all of whom are valuable submarine crewmen, to escape to the Scottish coast. Captain Connor decides to allow Schluetter and the Germans to follow through with their plan in the hope that the British will be able to capture the submarine when it picks up the men. Major Perry, the ineffectual camp commander, strongly objects, but Connor allows the prisoners to escape. Schluetter outwits Connor, however, who desperately searches for the escapees in his reconnaissance plane. At the last moment, Connor spots them as they are paddling to the waiting submarine. He radios for the British destroyer which has been placed on standby, but the ship arrives late, and only Schluetter and two of his crew are captured. Connor is left frustrated and facing disciplinary action for his abortive scheme.

Film Details

Also Known As
Wolfpack
MPAA Rating
Genre
Action
War
Release Date
Jan 1970
Premiere Information
New York opening: 28 Oct 1970
Production Company
Brighton Pictures
Distribution Company
United Artists
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel The Bowmanville Break by Sidney Shelley (New York, 1968).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 46m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (DeLuxe)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.85 : 1

Articles

The McKenzie Break


A solid, likeable leading man with a talent for comedy and action roles, Brian Keith was very successful throughout his career, working in both film and television. The son of character actor Robert Keith, he made his film debut at the age of 3 in the silent Pied Piper Malone (1924). He made another movie that year, then wasn+t seen again until he had an uncredited bit as a student in Knute Rockne, All American (1940). He continued to work as an extra during the 1940s until he broke through with fourth billing in the Charlton Heston Western Arrowhead (1953). Although his film career progressed rapidly throughout the decade, he also took on his first TV assignment in 1955-56 as the lead in a series about an anti-communist freelance writer, The Crusader. From then on, Keith divided his time between the big and small screens, jumping from made-for-TV movies to Doris Day comedies to long-running series to Westerns and crime movies. The veteran of nearly a dozen broadcast series, he's most famous as the single dad on the popular sitcom Family Affair, which ran from 1966 to 1971. His last TV assignment was as the voice of Peter Parker+s Uncle Ben in the cartoon show Spider-Man.

In The McKenzie Break, Keith had one of his more offbeat film roles. Directed by Lamont Johnson, this World War II POW escape drama had a twist - it's the Germans who are the prisoners, trying to escape their British captors in a Scottish camp (it was actually filmed in Ireland). Keith plays an intelligence officer trying to outwit his wily Nazi charges, led by Helmut Griem as a ruthless Hitler youth who rose through the ranks to become a U-boat commander. Instead of focusing on the prisoners' escape attempt, director Lamont Johnson and writer William Norton chose to play up the cat-and-mouse game between Keith and Griem, creating a tense, psychological drama with an unexpected outcome.

Keith isn't the only TV veteran in this production. Johnson also started off on the small screen, with credits on thirteen series prior to this picture, including Dr. Kildare, The Twilight Zone, and Have Gun Will Travel. After The McKenzie Break, he divided his time between movies and television, directing a number of made-for-TV pictures, including the award-winning That Certain Summer (1972) and Lincoln (1988). Johnson has also worked on such popular television series as Felicity. Screenwriter William Norton had at least one noteworthy TV credit, as a writer for the popular 1960s Western series The Big Valley. Producers Arthur Gardner and Jules Levy also worked on that show, and they first collaborated with Johnson on the Western series The Rifleman.

Several of the supporting cast were also TV veterans, although not well known to U.S. audiences. Ian Hendry, cast as the film's ineffectual camp commanding officer, had six popular English TV series among his credits as well as a British Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nomination (for Get Carter, 1971). Jack Watson (Gen. Ben Kerr in The McKenzie Break) has more than a dozen TV credits, including a long recurring role on the popular British soap opera, Coronation Street, which has been airing since 1960. Although he has done some television in his native Germany (notably the Fassbinder-directed mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz), Griem is best known to stateside audiences as the bisexual aristocrat Maximilian in Cabaret (1972).

Director: Lamont Johnson
Producers: Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy
Screenplay: William Norton, based on the novel by Sidney Shelley
Cinematography: Michael Reed
Editing: Tom Rolf
Production design: Frank White
Original Music: Riz Ortolani
Cast: Brian Keith (Capt. Jack Connor), Helmut Griem (Capt. Willi Schlutter), Ian Hendry (Maj. Perry), Jack Watson (Gen. Kerr), Horst Janson (Lt. Neuchi).
C-107m. Letterboxed.

by Rob Nixon
The Mckenzie Break

The McKenzie Break

A solid, likeable leading man with a talent for comedy and action roles, Brian Keith was very successful throughout his career, working in both film and television. The son of character actor Robert Keith, he made his film debut at the age of 3 in the silent Pied Piper Malone (1924). He made another movie that year, then wasn+t seen again until he had an uncredited bit as a student in Knute Rockne, All American (1940). He continued to work as an extra during the 1940s until he broke through with fourth billing in the Charlton Heston Western Arrowhead (1953). Although his film career progressed rapidly throughout the decade, he also took on his first TV assignment in 1955-56 as the lead in a series about an anti-communist freelance writer, The Crusader. From then on, Keith divided his time between the big and small screens, jumping from made-for-TV movies to Doris Day comedies to long-running series to Westerns and crime movies. The veteran of nearly a dozen broadcast series, he's most famous as the single dad on the popular sitcom Family Affair, which ran from 1966 to 1971. His last TV assignment was as the voice of Peter Parker+s Uncle Ben in the cartoon show Spider-Man. In The McKenzie Break, Keith had one of his more offbeat film roles. Directed by Lamont Johnson, this World War II POW escape drama had a twist - it's the Germans who are the prisoners, trying to escape their British captors in a Scottish camp (it was actually filmed in Ireland). Keith plays an intelligence officer trying to outwit his wily Nazi charges, led by Helmut Griem as a ruthless Hitler youth who rose through the ranks to become a U-boat commander. Instead of focusing on the prisoners' escape attempt, director Lamont Johnson and writer William Norton chose to play up the cat-and-mouse game between Keith and Griem, creating a tense, psychological drama with an unexpected outcome. Keith isn't the only TV veteran in this production. Johnson also started off on the small screen, with credits on thirteen series prior to this picture, including Dr. Kildare, The Twilight Zone, and Have Gun Will Travel. After The McKenzie Break, he divided his time between movies and television, directing a number of made-for-TV pictures, including the award-winning That Certain Summer (1972) and Lincoln (1988). Johnson has also worked on such popular television series as Felicity. Screenwriter William Norton had at least one noteworthy TV credit, as a writer for the popular 1960s Western series The Big Valley. Producers Arthur Gardner and Jules Levy also worked on that show, and they first collaborated with Johnson on the Western series The Rifleman. Several of the supporting cast were also TV veterans, although not well known to U.S. audiences. Ian Hendry, cast as the film's ineffectual camp commanding officer, had six popular English TV series among his credits as well as a British Academy Award Best Supporting Actor nomination (for Get Carter, 1971). Jack Watson (Gen. Ben Kerr in The McKenzie Break) has more than a dozen TV credits, including a long recurring role on the popular British soap opera, Coronation Street, which has been airing since 1960. Although he has done some television in his native Germany (notably the Fassbinder-directed mini-series Berlin Alexanderplatz), Griem is best known to stateside audiences as the bisexual aristocrat Maximilian in Cabaret (1972). Director: Lamont Johnson Producers: Arthur Gardner, Jules Levy Screenplay: William Norton, based on the novel by Sidney Shelley Cinematography: Michael Reed Editing: Tom Rolf Production design: Frank White Original Music: Riz Ortolani Cast: Brian Keith (Capt. Jack Connor), Helmut Griem (Capt. Willi Schlutter), Ian Hendry (Maj. Perry), Jack Watson (Gen. Kerr), Horst Janson (Lt. Neuchi). C-107m. Letterboxed. by Rob Nixon

Quotes

Willi, looks like we're both in the shithouse.
- Captain Jack Connor

Trivia

Notes

The film's pre-release title was Wolfpack. The film was shot almost entirely in Ireland, aside from the submarine sequence at the end of the film, which was shot off the coast of Turkey. The final scene,with Brian Keith, was shot in Santa Monica.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1970

Released in United States 1970