Frank Sinatra is splendidly cast as American Air Force Colonel Joseph L. Ryan, who is shot down and placed in an Italian POW camp, mainly housing British troops.
Because Ryan is now the highest ranking officer he takes over command of the prisoners from English Major Eric Fincham (Trevor Howard) – thus creating animosity between them.
When Italy surrenders to the Allies, the Italian jailers abandon their post and leave the prisoners on their own.
Under Ryan’s command, the prisoners escape from Italy by stealing a German prisoner of war train headed for a German concentration camp and divert it northward to neutral Switzerland and freedom. When the Germans realise what has happened, the chase is on.
A really rousing WWII yarn, excellently handled by director Mark Robson and his expert team.
There are several exciting sequences such as the escapees disguised in German uniforms trying to get past the checkpoints, an encounter with a double-dealing Gestapo agent, and an attack on the central railway control tower in Milan.
The concluding battle, set in the Alps, has the prisoners attempting to clear the tracks while fighting off attacking German aircraft and their oncoming German pursuers.
Col. Joseph L. Ryan
Major Eric Fincham
Major Von Klemment
John Van Dreelen
Michael St. Clair