'Escape to Victory': When Pelé and Sylvester Stallone co-starred in 1981 sports war film
Brazilian football legend and one of the greatest athletes of all time Edson Arantes do Nascimento, popularly known as Pelé, died at the age of 82 on Thursday (December 29). Lovingly called O Rei or The King in Brazilian Portuguese, Pelé was declared 'the greatest' by none other than FIFA, the governing body of association football. He holds a Guinness World Record for most career goals: 1,279 in 1,363 games. But he was not just a sports icon. Not many are aware, but he also gave the world of entertainment a whirl. Indeed, he appeared in a number of movies, but his biggest claim to fame, as far as the field of cinema goes, is 1981's 'Escape to Victory'.
Who was behind 'Escape to Victory'?
A film that straddled the sports and war genres, 'Escape to Victory' was directed by John Huston (also known for Sean Connery and Michael Caine film 'The Man Who Would Be King') and written by Evan Jones and Yabo Yablonsky. The film was a giant production by studios from the US, Britain, and Italy. It carried an impressive budget of $10 million.
Who was in it?
Apart from Pelé, the film featured several accomplished and iconic performers. There was Sylvester Stallone, who had become a huge star after the success of his first two 'Rocky' films. There was also British acting legend Michael Caine, who the younger generations might know as Alfred in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies. Another British icon Max von Sydow, the Three-eyed Raven of 'Game of Thrones' also featured in the movie. Apart from Pelé, other professional footballers Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst, Mike Summerbee, Hallvar Thoresen, and Werner Roth were also in the cast.
What was the film about?
The film was about the prisoners of war among the Allied soldiers held in a German prison camp during World War II. They create a team of players and face a German team in an exhibition match. Caine is the coach of the team called Captain John Colby. Stallone essays Captain Robert Hatch, an American player.
Was the movie a success?
Sort of, but not a huge one. It grossed $27.5 million, which is not a big number when the budget is $10 million. In terms of critical reception, the film fared better. It has a score of 67 per cent on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. On another review aggregation site Metacritic, the score is 57 out of 100.