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The Great Escaper May Mark the End of Two Legendary Acting Careers

In the summer of 2014, 89-year-old Bernard Jordan, a veteran of the British Royal Navy, snuck out of his East Sussex care home to attend the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France. It was an inspirational story that not only made headlines everywhere but inspired the production of two upcoming movies. The first is The Last Rifleman, starring Pierce Brosnan, while the second is titled The Great Escaper, based on the nickname publications had bestowed upon Bernie Jordan at the time.

The Great Escaper is a heartfelt story based on Jordan’s return to the beaches where he bravely fought alongside his brothers-in-arms during World War II. The retiree’s “escape plan” came to fruition when he learned that he hadn’t been given a spot in the Royal British Legion’s trip to the commemoration. Telling only his wife, Irene (Rene), and not one member of the staff at their care home, Jordan slipped out of the house, caught a taxi to Dover, and then boarded a ferry across the English Channel.

The tale is so profound that it coaxed the internationally renowned Sir Michael Caine out of retirement to play the role of Jordan. Caine has starred in a plethora of acclaimed films, including The Italian Job, The Dark Knight, and A Bridge Too Far, another movie in which he played a WWII soldier. He’s won two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award during his prolific career.

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The real-life Bernard Jordan, who Michael Caine portrays in the Great Escaper. Jordan passed away at age ninety in 2015.

The story behind The Great Escaper also attracted the talents of the late Glenda Jackson, a Hollywood treasure who achieved the American Triple Crown of acting, having won two Academy Awards, three Emmys, and a Tony. She was also a respected member of Parliament for 23 years. Jackson plays Rene Jordan, Bernie’s ailing wife, who kept his vanishing act from the home a secret until the police became involved. The Great Escaper is as much a story about Bernie and Rene’s love as it is about Jordan’s journey and his part in the war.

Sadly, Jackson passed away in June of 2023, nine months after the filming of The Great Escaper wrapped. However, she and Michael Caine were treated to a screening of the completed film by its director, Oliver Parker, known for his work on Othello and The Importance of Being Earnest. According to Parker, via an interview with The Associated Press, Jackson enjoyed the movie immensely and was very complimentary of her co-stars’ performances, including that of John Standing (Walk, Don’t Run, King Rat) who plays another WWII veteran with whom Jordan connects while making their way to France.

Releasing on October 6, 2023, The Great Escaper may not only celebrate Glenda Jackson’s final role on the silver screen but Michael Caine’s as well. He was already technically retired when he signed onto the movie, and he has implied in an interview with The Telegraph that this may be the last film of his career.* If this proves true, The Great Escaper will be a beautiful swan song for both Jackson and Caine, who last performed together in 1975’s The Romantic Englishwoman.

*Since the Telegraph interview cited above, Caine has stated he will play one final role, starring as Charles Darwin in an unspecified film.–Ed.


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About the Author:

Jason Robbins is a features editor and writer, attorney, computer scientist, bio-exorcist and inventor of the piano key necktie.




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