Victory (1981)

 ●  English ● 1 hr 56 mins

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This inspiring tale of defiance and heroism follows events during World War II. When some Swiss inspectors inspect one of the camps, one of the Germans accompanying them sees that the inmates play football (soccer). Interest when he recognizes one of the men, Colby as a former player for England, he suggests that his men play against a team of Germans. Colby agrees, provided that his players be provided with certain amenities. At the same time, one of the prisoners, an American, Hatch is planning to escape. But his plan hits a snag because of the football game. He joins the team because it's the only way his plan can work. The officers at the camp want him to go to Paris, where the game will be held, so that he can contact the underground and see if its possible for the team to escape. Hatch makes it and after meeting them, they think there's a way but Hatch has to get caught so that he could be sent back to the camp. It is imperative that he is able to inform the team of the plan. Will he succeed in getting caught? Can Colby convince the Germans that he needs him for the team so that he could be released?

Cast: Carole Laure, Sylvester Stallone

Crew: John Huston (Director), Gerry Fisher (Director of Photography), Bill Conti (Music Director)

Genres: Action, Drama, War

Release Dates: 30 Jul 1981 (India)

Tagline: Now is the time for heroes.

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Did you know? This movie featured eighteen international soccer stars of the time appearing in both acting and sports action stunt roles. Read More
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as Renee - The French
as Captain Robert Hatch - The Players: U.S.A.
as Lutz - The Germans
as Jean Paul - The French
as Terry Brady
as The Forger - The English
as Strauss - The Germans
as Italian - The Commentators
as Mueller, Coach - The Germans
as Kommandant - The Germans
as German - The Commentators
as Gunnar Hilsson - The Players: Norway
as Georges - The French
as Claude - The French
as Arthur Hayes - The Players: Scotland
as Shurlock - The English
as Propaganda Civilian - The Germans
as Paul Wolchek - The Players: Poland
as Tony Lewis - Allied Goalkeeper - The Players: Ireland (as Kevin O'Calloghan)
as Fan in Front Row
as Schmidt - Goalie - The Germans
as Major Karl Von Steiner - The Germans (as Max Von Sydow)
as Capt. John Colby - The Players: England
as Lang - The Germans
as French - The Commentators
as Sid Harmor - Allied Soccer Player - The Players: England
as Carlos Rey - Allied Soccer Player - The Players: Argentina
as Michel Fileu - The Players: Belgium
as Player - The Germans
as Doug Clure - The Players: England
as Erik Ball - Allied Soccer Player - The Players: Denmark
as Rose - The English
as Baumann, Team Captain - The Germans
as Viktor - The French
as Renée's Son




Executive Producer
Associate Producer


Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography


Music Director


Production Designer
Set Decorator


Casting Director



Makeup and Hair

Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
Dolby, Stereo
Panavision Panaflex
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
Now is the time for heroes.
Their goal was freedom...
Filming Locations:
The microphone used by the radio announcer at the soccer match is an RCA model 77B, a model not introduced until the late-1940s.

During the match an injured POW player is taken off by stretcher and another player puts on a shirt to replace him. Substitutes were not introduced in this way until 1953; until that point, a "substitute" was a player who stood in for another who had failed to turn up for the game and players were not replaced once the match was underway.

The vast majority of the extras in the soccer stadium have hairstyles and wear clothes associated with the late 1970s and early 1980s (long hair, flares and wide-collared shirts etc.).

Around the 61th min. after Hatch escaped, when the German soldier comes to report the number of prisoners, he speaks in Hungarian, but not in German.

Character Error
When the German player (Baumann) takes the penalty kick, his hair is dry in a scene a few seconds prior to the kick, then it's wet with sweat when he places the ball and then it's dry again after he scores.
The movie was inspired by an actual series of games in Kiev, during the German occupation of the city. Several members of Dynamo Kiev, the top soccer team in Ukraine, found work in a bakery. There they formed a soccer team with other bakery employees. They began playing in a new league against teams supported by the Ukranian puppet government and German military. After they beat a team from a local German Air Force base, the league was disbanded and several of the team members arrested by the Gestapo and four were executed.

Sylvester Stallone started football training on weekends off during filming of his previous picture Nighthawks (1981). Stallone received training from England's World Cup winning goalkeeper, Gordon Banks. Initially, Stallone paid little attention to Banks's advice as he didn't think the training was necessary, and recklessly threw himself around on the first day of filming the match. Eventually, he hit the ground so hard that he dislocated a shoulder and broke one of his ribs, putting him out of action for several days. When he returned, Stallone paid much more attention to what Banks was telling him, but still sustained a number of minor injuries over the course of filming, including another broken rib. After production was finished, Stallone commented that the experience had been harder than fighting in the Rocky movies.

Reportedly, Sylvester Stallone insisted that his character score the game-winning goal in the film, as he felt he was the biggest star in the film. The non-American crew was finally able to convince him of the absurdity of the goalkeeper scoring the winning goal, and the penalty shot was specifically written to placate his ego.

The MTK Stadium in Budapest, Hungary was used to play the Stade Colombes (Coombes Stadium) in Paris, France where the movie's climactic football match takes place. The producers had had difficulty finding a large stadium without floodlights, as floodlights at football stadiums were largely unknown until well after World War II. The MTK stadium, now known as the Hidegkuti Nándor Stadium, was the biggest one without lights (but at the same time structurally similar to Continental stadiums that were around during WW2) that they could find. The stadium today is the home of the MTK Hungária Football Club.

During the climactic soccer match, when the commentator says that there is fifteen minutes left in the game, there is exactly fifteen minutes and five seconds left until the end of the end credits.

In the scene where the Germans discover Hatch's escape, the German guard reporting speaks Hungarian instead of German. Most likely, the actor was a Hungarian extra. He says "jelentem, a létszám 93 fo", which roughly translates as "(I report) 93 persons are present". Also, one of the French Resistance men speaks English (to Hatch) with noticeable Hungarian accent.

The movie was originally slated to star Lloyd Bridges and Clint Eastwood. French actor Alain Delon was also touted to appear.

The original draft of the script was a serious drama, based on the true story of a group of allied POWs challenged to a football match by the Germans. The deal was that if the Germans won the match, the POWs would be set free in Switzerland. However if the POWs won, they would be shot. The POWs decided to go for 'victory', won the match and were consequently executed.

A number of soccer players from the Ipswich Town Football Club featured in this movie. These included Kevin Beattie; Paul Cooper; Kevin O'Callaghan; Russell Osman; Laurie Sivell; Robin Turner and John Wark.

Sylvester Stallone lost about 40 lbs for the film because he didn't want a prisoner of war to look like an "Olympic Boxer" and he felt he needed that weight reduce to perform the tasks of a soccer goalie.

A three acre prison set was built in the grounds of the Allag Riding Stables on the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary. The POW set took three months to construct.

One of the footballers, Mike Summerbee, became friendly with Michael Caine. After retiring from football, Summerbee went into bespoke shirt-making. Caine is one of his favored customers.

This movie is both known as "Victory" and "Escape to Victory" in various territories, though its original English title is "Victory". In some territories, it was released under one of these titles in theaters and and then the other title for videocassette release.

Kevin O'Callaghan, who played the young goalkeeper who has his arm broken in the film, never played in goal professionally. Instead he enjoyed a successful career as a winger with Millwall, Ipswich Town, Portsmouth and the Republic of Ireland.

Sylvester Stallone broke one of his fingers trying to stop Pelé from scoring a goal.

Apart from acting in the movie, Pelé also assisted in choreographing all the playing actions in the climactic game.

John Wark had his Scottish accent dubbed to an English one.

This movie featured on screen eighteen international soccer stars of the time appearing in both acting and sports action stunt roles. International Soccer Stars of the time who have key roles in this movie playing the soccer players included Brazilian Pelé as Allied Trinidadian Corporal Luis Fernandez; England's Bobby Moore as the Allies' English Terry Brady; Argentina's Osvaldo Ardiles as Allied Argentine Carlos Rey; Scotland's John Wark as Scotish Arthur Hayes; Ireland's Kevin O'Callaghan as the Allied Irish goalkeeper Tony Lewis; Poland's Kazimierz Deyna as Polish player Paul Wolchek; Norway's Hallvar Thoresen as Norwegian player Gunnar Hilsson; Belgium's Paul Van Himst as Belgian Michel Fileu; Denmark's Søren Lindsted as Danish Allie Erik Ball; USA's Werner Roth as German Team Captain Baumann; England's Mike Summerbee as Allied Soccer Player Sid Harmor; England's Russell Osman as Doug Clure; Holland's Co Prins as Dutch Pieter Van Beck whilst England's Laurie Sivell played the German goalkeeper Schmidt.

Kevin Beattie stood in as an action double for Michael Caine during the football scenes whilst Paul Cooper did the same for Sylvester Stallone.

At the playing of the German National Anthem, the assorted German officers stand and salute. SS officers in black uniforms (apart from one or two) give the Nazi salute, and Luftwaffe officers in grey give the standard military salute (hand to headgear with palm down). This is correct, so long as the events took place prior to July 1944, when the Nazi salute was imposed across the whole Wehrmacht.

Upon theatrical release, this movie was described as a cross between The Great Escape (1963) and The Longest Yard (1974) and alternatively, also as a cross between The Great Escape (1963) and Rocky (1976).

This movie is similar in storyline to two earlier European films made around 1962. Firstly, it is similar to the Hungarian black-and-white film Two half-times in Hell (aka Two Half-Times in Hell (1963)). Winner of the Critics' Award at the 1962 Boston Cinema Festival, this movie told of a soccer match between Allied POWs and German soldiers and held on Adolf Hitler's birthday. Victory (1981) is also similar in storyline to the earlier Russian film, Tretiy taym (1964).

One of this movie's main posters shows the left and right red sleeve arms of Michael Caine and Sylvester Stallone respectively pushed-upwards stretching from their red soccer guernseys and symbolic of a goal victory, forming a V-shape signifying the V of the word Victory, this being the movie's title.

This movie featured eighteen international soccer stars of the time appearing in both acting and sports action stunt roles.

For the high majority of soccer players who had acting parts in this movie, this picture has been their only ever theatrical film acting role.

Many of the actors seen in this movie had to learn how to play soccer whilst many of the soccer players seen in this movie had to learn how to act.

Anton Diffring is dubbed

Sylvester Stallone nixed the idea of using a professional player as a double for the game sequences, because of that he separated his shoulder and broke a finger.

Other than Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine the rest of the allied players (that play in the game) are actual soccer stars from various countries around the world, mostly from the 1970s and 80s. Some of them perform the "tricks" that they were famous for, such as Pelé with a bicycle kick.