Episode 57: The Great Escape

Episode 57: The Great Escape. 1963’s epic war movie has become a classic, loved by many viewers and remembered for some iconic moments, most of them involving Steve McQueen who is arguably one of the coolest actors ever to grace a screen. Based on a book by Paul Brickhill who was a POW in Stalag Luft III when the break-out occurred, we aim to find out how accurately the movie follows the reality of the breakout, the men involved and the details of their various experiences. It’s a big movie so this is a big episode with ups and downs and, no doubt, a few daredevil leaps across the fences of accepted reality (that one was inserted with help from the HbH literary crowbar).

Guy Walter’s book: The Real Great Escape which was our primary source for our research.

Sean Munger’s YouTube episode about Stalag Luft III:

Jens Muller’s account of the escape from one of the three men who made a ‘home run’:

Book about Squadron Leader Frank McKenna, Special Investigation Branch RAF and his hunt for the Great Escape Murderers. (This link is to the UK branch of Amazon but the title and ISBN number can be searched in any country)

Washington Post article about Bob Hoover, the only POW we could find who escaped by stealing an aircraft:

List of the escaping POWs:


Episode 55: Bohemian Rhapsody

Episode 55 Bohemian Rhapsody. This episode takes a nostalgia trip for both hosts as we examine 2018’s musical biopic about Queen and Freddie Mercury. Critics didn’t much like it but audiences love it, as did the Academy Award committee as the movie won four Oscars including Best Actor for Rami Malek. We very much side with the audiences as we both thoroughly enjoyed what is a very entertaining and moving film. What we’ll try to do here is establish how close to the truth the movie managed to keep as it charts the rise of one of the world’s most successful rock bands.

The Show Must Go On: Queen and Adam Lambert documentary was shown on ABC on 29th April 2019. The usual streaming services haven’t yet picked it up but here are links to YouTube with the show split into two parts. It is highly recommended.

Episode 52: The Right Stuff

Episode 52: The Right Stuff. This week we are delighted to be joined by Sean Munger, host of The Second Decade Podcast (link in the show notes on the website historybyhollywood dot com) who grew up on or near USAF bases and brings both historical expertise and a personal aspect to the show. The movie is big, bold and magnificent covering the American efforts to break the sound barrier then launch men into space. The episode is big and we’ll leave you, our dear listeners to choose any other appropriate adjectives. Over two hours but if you enjoy listening half as much as we enjoyed recording…. you know the rest.

Link to Sean Munger’s The Second Decade podcast website. This is as recommended as anything we’ve ever recommended…. so to speak.

Antoher link, this time to Des Latham’s excellent Anglo-Boer War podcast which is as hard hitting as it is entertaining. A playful delivery doesn’t detract from the drama of the conflict. We rather like this!

Episode 51: Bonnie & Clyde

Episode 51: Bonnie & Clyde. This week sees Andrew fly solo for an examination of 1967’s Bonnie & Clyde, starring Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty in the title roles as Bonnie Parker and Clyde Champion Barrow, almost mythical Depression-era criminals in the US. We will try to separate the legend from the facts and the Hollywood interpretation of both. We hope you’ll join us on the journey.

A version of the movie poster for the original release in 1967.

The real Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow
The ambush site where Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death by
retired Texas Rangers Frank Hamer and Maney Gault

Episode 50: A Beautiful Mind

Episode 50: A Beautiful Mind. In this episode we examine the 2001 biopic of mathematics genius John Nash, following both his academic achievements and his struggle with schizophrenia. A multiple Oscar winner, hugely popular with audiences, we will look at how accurate the movie manages to stay to the real twists and turns of Nash’s professional and personal life.

Episode 49: The Big Short

A very entertaining movie, described in one review as an ‘angry, fiery movie disguised as a comedy’ it has a superb cast including Christian Bale, Ryan Gosling, Steve Carrel and Brad Pitt. The period portrayed leads up to the 2008 financial crash and the movie does a great job of explaining how this was allowed to happen along with a warning that it could happen again. One of the most relevant and topical movies we have covered thus far, we hope you join us on our journey of discovery along the road to the facts. The audio is much improved from last time but still not perfect (some slight background noise) which we are working hard to eliminate from all future episodes. Please bear with us and we promise to be back to 20/20 clarity next time out.

Episode 48: Trumbo

Episode 48: Trumbo. Andrew is joined by Dr Fiona Radford of the Partial Historians Podcast and an expert on Dalton Trumbo, Spartacus and the Hollywood Ten (blacklisted screen writers suspected of having communist sympathies of which Dalton Trumbo was a prominent member). We have to apologise for the poor audio quality on Andrew’s side but we still hope that you enjoy the depth of knowledge that Dr Fiona displays, delivered in her customary light-hearted style. Brian Cranston plays the title role wonderfully as Andrew and Fiona examine whether the movie got things right.