84. “Bad news, Mike! I’ve gone blind from forging a thousand Nazi documents!”

The episode:Teenage Crime Wave,” ep. 522. Note: This has got to be the skimpiest Wikipedia entry ever for a MST3k film.

The riff: Insisted upon by Crow as the crew of the Satellite of Love contemplates a complicated escape plan in the movie’s first host segment. Note: Apologies, but the only place this episode appears on YouTube there is no first host segment, so I can’t link to it.

The explanation: This is a direct allusion to the 1963 film “The Great Escape,” a true classic as far as war movies are concerned. In the film, a crew of American and British prisoners engineer a daring and cerebral escape from a brutal German POW camp in World War II. The incomparable Donald Pleasence plays Colin Blythe, “The Forger,” who pores over stolen German documents to make passports and other necessary materials for the escapees to make it to the border. Unfortunately, doing so in nearly lightless rooms causes him to lose his eyesight. This whole segment is riddled with “Great Escape” references.

Novelty factor: I love this movie, and I love Donald Pleasence, who is mostly remembered in America for playing Dr. Loomis in the “Halloween” movies. It has a fantastic cast, an iconic soundtrack that has been reused a million times, and set many of the tropes for “escape movies,” even if it did borrow from earlier films like “Stalag 17” (also a great movie) in places.

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