The Wooden Horse In a POW camp, the Nazis have placed the huts far from the boundary so that any escape tunnel would have to be a long one. One British officer has the idea of starting a daily gynmastics routine using a vaulting horse: they can place it near the boundary and start a tunnel from under it. He and two others do escape the camp by this means and plan to make for neutral Sweden. To do that, they’ll not only have to move around without arousing any suspicions, but also find a stranger from a neutral or occupied country who’ll be willing and able to help them.
Has a quiet and hypnotic dignity
The Wooden Horse In 1943, a group of RAF Officers, including Eric Wiiliams, decide to escape from a POW camp using a Gymnastic Vaulting Horse in the courtyard. In 1950, it was decided to film his account, and it kick-started a peculiar British Film Genre- the Military Prison Camp story that reached its apogee in Danger Within (1959).
The Wooden Horse is one of the quietest films I have ever watched. There are no great dramatic moments, but a steady storyline eventually builds to a climax that has more tension because the story doesn’t give way for unlikely drama, jump cuts or jacked up (somethings about to happen!) music. It is utterly of its time and works beautifully.
Leo Glenn, Anthony Steel and David Tomlinson lead a curiously low key cast of extras and (I suspect) non-actors. Without exception, all are constantly mono-tonal and quiet. They keep emotion out of their roles. As so many were, until recently, ex-service, I suspect they recreated their war time roles as ‘Officers and Gentlemen’.
This unemotional approach does not detract from any dramatic tension. On the contrary, unlike most Wartime Escape Films, the story doesn’t end at the barbed wire: and that fact alone keeps me glued to the end.