The Birdmen

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 fictionalised 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 movie 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.

The Birdmen
Screenplay byDavid Kidd
Directed byPhilip Leacock
StarringDoug McClure
Narrated byCharles Aidman
Music byDavid Rose
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Harve Bennett
Harry Tatelman
CinematographyJack A. Marta
Editor(s)Robert F. Shugrue
Gene Palmer
Running time74 min.
Production company(s)Universal Pictures
NBCUniversal Television Distribution (syndication)
Original releaseSeptember 18, 1971


O.S.S. Agent Major Cook is sent to Occupied Europe to bring Halden Brevik, a Norwegian scientist with knowledge on how to build an atomic bomb, 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 can be the second escapee. 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. Cook gets injured and will not be able to 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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