Danger Within (1959, Richard Todd, Bernard Lee)

Danger Within (1959, Richard Todd, Bernard Lee) (1959)

Prisoner-of-war escape movies have held a constant fascination for British filmmakers. Many of the best took their inspiration from real-life experiences and incidents. This highly enjoyable example of the genre, however, derives from the novel Death in Captivity by thriller writer Michael Gilbert. It ingeniously combines the ‘traditional’ elements of the prisoner-of-war films with those of the equally ‘traditional’ whodunit. The result is an effective mixture of suspense and comedy, resulting from both the depiction of the prisoners’ various efforts to break out of a British Officers’ prisoner-of-war camp in Northern Italy in 1943 and their efforts to track down the traitor in their midst who is betraying their plans to their captors.

The excellent screenplay is by actor and director-to-be Bryan Forbes and Frank Harvey and provides a strong narrative and good characterisation as well as entertainingly observing the minutiae of life in a POW camp. This observation is complemented by Don Chaffey’s sharp direction. The casting, too, is impeccable with a fine roster of British actors and character performers on view, led by Richard Todd, Bernard Lee, Michael Wilding and Richard Attenborough.

US Title: Breakout

production info

  • Year of Release: 1959
  • Country: UK
  • Language: English
  • Runtime: 101 minutes

crew details

Director: Don Chaffey
Writers: Bryan Forbes, Frank Harvey, based on the novel Death in Captivity by Michael Gilbert


Richard Todd as Lt. Col. David Baird, M.C.
Bernard Lee as Lt. Col. Huxley
Michael Wilding as Major Charles Marquand
Richard Attenborough as Capt. 'Bunter' Phillips
Dennis Price as Capt. Rupert Callender
Donald Houston as Capt. Roger Byfold
William Franklyn as Capt. Tony Long
Vincent Ball as Capt. Pat Foster
Peter Arne as Capitano Benucci
Peter Jones as Capt. Alfred Piker
Ronnie Stevens as Lt. Meynell, 'The Sewer Rat'
Terence Alexander as Lt. Gibbs
Andrew Faulds as Lt. Comdr. 'Dopey' Gibbon, R.N.
Steve Norbert as Lt. Pierre Dessin
Cyril Shaps as Lt. Cyriakos Coutoules