Pfronten
Pfronten is a region near Fussen and is actually made up of 13 districts.

It has place names linked to the word Pfronten

such as Pfronten-Berg and Pfronten-Weissbach.

Pfronten-Berg

 

Steve McQueen's motorcycle stunts and many other scenes in The Great Escape were filmed in and around Pfronten-Berg with the beautiful St.Nikolaus Church often appearing in the background.

Pfronten-Berg's  St.Nikolaus Church can be seen behind Steve McQueen in these still photographs.

   

The 'trip-wire' scene has Hopfen am See in the background - Steve McQueen stretches a piece of wire across the road wrapping it around two road side posts. An unexpected German soldier is knocked off his motor bike.

 

This part of the 'Trip wire' scene is where Hilts gets a bike. On the ST2008 between Hopfen and Fussen. (Hopfen am See is in the background).

Reference to above scene: http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

The trip wire scene in Hopfen Am See has a white building in the distance. This building still stands as number "15" today but is now 'hidden' by other modern day buildings....

 

DELETED SCENE FROM THE GREAT ESCAPE          

In this rare deleted scene from director John Sturges' 1963 classic The Great Escape, Steve McQueen has just strung trip wire across a rural road, causing a German soldier's motorcycle to spin out of control into a drainage ditch. This scene of McQueen sitting astride the soldier does not appear in the final cut. Curiously, it did appear on a 1970s Spanish reissue lobby card from which this image was taken. Incidentally, McQueen actually doubled for some of the Germans in the famed motorcycle chase, thus he was actually chasing himself!

For a full article about the making of The Great Escape, see Cinema Retro issue #1 in their back issues section. 

Google Earth Reference for Hopfen am See will rotate the area round to show the trip wire location and the scene where Steve McQueen mouths SWITZERLAND:

http://www.maplandia.com/germany/bayern/schwaben/ostallgau/hopfen-am-see/hopfen-am-see-google-earth.html

 

Steve McQueen rides up out of the 'trip wire' ditch and rides off wearing the German's uniform towards Hopfen am See in the distance.

Looking north, the white Hopfen church is in the background.

 

The Great Escape scene where Steve McQueen appears from out of a ditch with Hopfen am See in the background and the lake on his left.

http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

   

The motorcycle used: Triumph TR-6 Trophy 650CC. The modern (for the time) motorcycles were modified to look like German-made BMWs.

McQueen on location near Fussen, waiting to chase himself dressed as a German soldier.

Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins discuss the 'chase'.....

 

 

   

   

   

 

 

An Australian stuntman by the name of Tom Gibbs plays the German tripped by Hilt's wire. Ekins had tried the stunt several times with no success. Tom Gibbs landed the stunt on his first try, but had to perform it three times before the camera caught it. The shot was done with a simple cut - a switch from the skid to a shot showing the bike hitting the ditch. Look closely at the thrown rider's carcasse: McQueen's stunt double, Bud Ekins, is substituted for Gibbs in the second half of the shot. (This Great Escape p.122)

 

 

The next scene shows Steve McQueen riding towards Hopfen am See with the lake on his right (Hopfensee).

http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

 

 

   

 

Credit: Marie Fotini...

 

 

 

 

The Great Escape clip reference:

http://youtu.be/MMiIlV6VKiw

 

Pfronten-WeiBbach

Steve McQueen has just obtained a German motorbike from his 'trip wire' across a road just outside Hopfen am See. The scene cuts to the lake on the right with Hopfen am See in the distance. The scene then cuts again to where Steve McQueen is confronted by a German soldier in WeiBbach at the junction where the roads meet. The German is kicked in the stomach and Steve McQueen begins the start of the famous motorbike chase. Nearby a chasing motorcycle and side car crashes into a fence. This took place just round the corner from this setting.

http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

At the roundabout McQueen is spotted by stuntman Roy Jensen, playing a German guard. McQueen lacks proper identification. He straight-legs Jensen to the gut, then heads for the hills on his modified Triumph. McQueen is closely followed by a flock of German stuntman and a sidecar manned by Bud Ekins and Chuck Hayward. (This Great Escape p.134)

The rebuilt Hotel Post. Corner of roads 309 and 310. The 310 east now passes behind the hotel.

   

(In this scene note the people watching the filming from their garden !!)

   

Located, at the crossroads of the 309 and 310 in Weissbach, north of Pfronten.

This is the building which is in the background when McQueen kicks the German soldier in the stomach. The house behind Hilt's head and the building on the right (now re-painted and a shop) are clearly virtually unchanged.

(The original Hotel Post some 100 years ago)

 

(The Hotel Post nearer the time of the filming)

 

 

 

 

McQueen speeds away and the next scene can be reached by going down the Kemptener Str. (with Kappelle St. Sebastian building on the right) and taking the first turning on the left (Rofleuter Weg). McQueen will ride out from a dirt track just north of the Rofleuter Weg...

Hans and Andrea Leitenmaier live in this house which is where Steve McQueen does an about-turn on his bike before fleeing across the fields pursued by the German soldiers on their bikes....

Scene set up: McQueen actually comes out of a small dirt track just north of the Roflueter Weg road as seen above...

 

 

The French Camera Man looks on his ipad to confirm where the next location could be on The Great Escape film

 

 

 

The grass has now been cemented over...

 

 

In the film, a German side car crashes into the side of the fence as it pursues McQueen on his motorbike.  McQueen escapes over a small bridge....

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hans Leitenmaier was a young boy when this scene was filmed in Weissbach. He was watching with his friends in their tree house on the left but Hans decided to watch the filming close up from the fence. Suddenly Hans decides to make a dash for it and he can be seen running along the fence !!

Hi Don,
I wanted to congratulate you on an amazingly detailed web site for The Great Escape. Well done!

I wanted to ask you about something that has always bugged me (and obviously nobody else!) that is seen on the page about “Pfronten”. About 1/3rd of the way down the page, you show images of McQueen and his pursuers driving their motorcycles away from the camera and out of the village and into the fields. You also talk about Hans Leitenmaier running in the shot. The thing that always caught my eye is the very contemporary looking antenna at the left edge of the frame.

http://www.thegreatescapelocations.com/pfronten.htm

It appears to me to be a modern yagi-style FM antenna which would not have been present in the ‘40s. It always seemed out of place to me and could have been easily taken down temporarily for this scene. Any ideas about the antenna or why it is in the shot?

Best,
Dave

On entering the Hair salon in WeiBbach, there is a framed picture of the 'Steve McQueen on a motorcycle' poster on the wall to the right. So you knew there was a connection with the 'film scene' just down the road at WeisBbach junction where Steve McQueen kicks a German soldier in the stomach and speeds away into the distance.

 

 

Jackie, the present owner, was 14 years old when the film crew arrived to film the scene. He remembers Steve McQueen and Charles Bronson popping into his father's Hair Salon for a 'wet' shave. Steve McQueen was very friendly towards the children and often smiled and winked at them whilst Charles Bronson was very serious and didn't appear to be very friendly towards the children.

 

Jackie's father gave Steve McQueen a cut and wet shave during filming in the area...

At the end of the day, the owner showed us the actual location of the 'trip wire' scene and the 'poster' location scene before sharing a beer with us at the end of the day.

In September 2010, John Leyton 'Willie the tunnel king' visited Jackie to have his hair cut!!

Where is the hut located?

Located on the OAL2 road between Zell and Pfronten about 3/4 mile north of the roundabout with the 310.

Pfronten-BERG in the distance

This location was never really confirmed. It was possibly in the Benken area......maybe someone can let us know.

 Found http://entertainment.webshots.com/album/577412336tJdoNo

Zell is in the background. On the road south out of Zell.

Fast forward to 2:40 to locate the scene in the film:   http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

 

Google Earth Reference for Zell will rotate the area round to show the location of Zell and Pfronten Berg and the HUT is located between the two towns.

http://www.maplandia.com/germany/bayern/schwaben/oberallgau/zell/zell-google-earth.html

 

Right at the beginning of this wall map  http://youtu.be/JGaWle4ATWI  is Zell and the cross roads can be seen to the south of Zell(0:01).

The hut has the town of Zell to one side of it and the town of Pfronten Berg (St.Nikolaus church) to the other side of it. But............

In the film, Steve McQueen aims his pistol at the Germans leaning up against the hut. He stands on the 'width' side of the hut (to the left side of the above photograph) so that Pfronten-Berg can be filmed over his shoulder in the background..........

 

 The camera was moved so that Pfronten Berg could be seen in the background.

The hut stain still remains to this day.

So all you have to do is line up your pistol with the wooden stain and you are literally 'walking the walk'....

The Great Escape Chase continues across the Pfronten hillside
The Great Escape chase then takes to the hills and Pfronten-BERG village with the St.Nikolaus white church tower always seems to appear in the background !!

 

 

 

 

 

Weissbach is in the background. On minor road that crosses 310 from Zell to Pfronten.

Located about a mile south of the 'hut' location on the west side of the OAL2, just entering the outskirts of Pfronten.

 

 

(Photograph taken on a hillside with St.Nikolaus Church, Pfronten-Berg behind Steve McQueen)

"Just found your web page and enjoyed a brief look.My father, Daniel Fapp ASC, can be seen standing behind the camera crew in a red jacket.  Daniel Fapp, Jr." (31.5.15)

 
 

BIKE Magazine (July 2013 edition) - words by Martin Fitz-Gibbons

   

(Matching the shirt in the background on the man sitting on the top of the hill to the above image suggests that McQueen is "departing the scene"...)

   

 

 

SchieBstandingweg.........Hilts arrives at the Swiss border and pauses, faced with dozens of German soldiers and a massive wire fence.

On a Pfronten map (SEE AT BOTTOM OF THIS PAGE - obtained from the Tourist information board) the 'Steve McQueen on a motorcycle' poster location is on the SchieBstandingweg  minor road (RED number 59 on the map) which runs parallel to the Fussener Str. 

Steve McQueen is riding towards the town of  Pfronten-Berg.

 

 

The Great Escape chase continues along this minor road and Steve McQueen passes a hut on his right with a swastika on it and rides up to the bend where the iconic poster was photographed (see below).

 http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

The bend is where the still photograph was taken and in the film Steve McQueen rides up to the corner in this road and rides away to the left of the photograph.

Located just a couple of hundred yards further towards Pfronten on the OAL2 is a tiny heading west, which goes down to the local 'shooting range' with a couple of houses beyond. Two hundred yards or so down that lane is the corner where this scene was shot.

On the actual corner there's a bench under the shadow of a tree with a rusty iron water hydrant alongside, so old it must have been there at the time of the filming.

Credit: Marie Fotini...

 

 

Credit: Marie Fotini...

The chase scene continues with a German bike rider (alias Steve McQueen) speeds pass the turning, with a side-car bike closely following behind, then suddenly turns back on its self and almost collides with the side-car bike before it rides up the correct road....... was filmed on this minor road with Pfronten- Berg's St.Nikolaus church in the background.

The scenic mountain format is a guide to this location.

 

Fast forward to 4:22 to find the clip:  http://youtu.be/PoEnQH5NXUk

 

The Director, John Sturges, discusses a scene with Steve McQueen with James Coburn listening on...

SPEIDEN road from WeiBbach to Kreuzegg and onto Zell will bring you to the hamlet of Speiden.
WHERE IS THIS LOCATION - WHICH SCENE WAS BEING FILMED?

(Is this the correct filming location?)

 

Where is this road......Speiden ?

The Great Escape scene where Flight Lieutenant Denys Cavendish RAF "The Surveyor" (Nigel Stock) is picked up on the roadside by a truck driver and later on in the film the truck turns a corner into the arms of a group of German soldiers.
These German soldiers were 'extras' in The Great Escape film. Ludwig Schuster still lives in Speiden today on his farm which was used as the backdrop for the scene. Cavendish was caught by the German soldiers when the truck he was a passenger in drove around the corner and into a trap. A large group of German soldiers were waiting to arrest him........

"This picture is the house where my mother grew up. It was a bakery in these days. Don, I told you mum tells me, she seen the stars and crew while filming at this location."

Ludwig Schuster is the soldier on the left, dressed in a German uniform for his role as an 'extra' in The Great Escape.

Ludwig Schuster as he is today working on his farm in Speiden talking about when he was a film star for the day !

In the film this building was painted 'yellow.'

The new paint is peeling away to show the actual colour used in The Great Escape film almost 50 years ago....

 

   

After Sedgwick steals the bike from a square in Markt Schwaben....

He then cycles out of the small town which is on the edge of Speiden as seen below........

Sedgwick rides out of town of Speiden.

 

Sedgwick continues out of town.

 

 
Sedgwick arrives in the next scene on a railway crossing looking around. This scene  is set on the Pfronten railway crossing with the mountains in the distance............
.......................and  Pfronten railway station in the other direction.
Sedgwick boards the train in Pfronten....then he meets the French Resistance movement who takes to the border of Spain (Fussen page)
 

 

In September 2010, John 'Willie The Tunnel King' Leyton stayed in Speiden at the Hotel Christine.
 
View from the rear of the Hotel Christine Restaurant.
A picture, with signature, of John Leyton and the chef in the Visitors book.
Photographs of John 'Willie The Tunnel King' Leyton are displayed on the restaurant walls of the Hotel Christine.
   

The map highlights The Great Escape locations.

(1) Trip wire is WRONG. 

To the right of number (2) is the Zeller Str. road and the first hut you see on your right is THE HUT location.

The land north of Imnat is where McQueen is chased across the Pfronten hills with Pfronten-Berg church in the background.

(6) To locate the exact position of the jump (fence) & capture......take the Fussen 310 road and Benken will be on this road. Then the small hamlet of Rossmoos will be located and nearby will be the 'jump field'.

(1) Is actually the location where the German lorries, transporting the fifty prisoners, peel away in different directions off the round-about near the end of The Great Escape film.

   

Looking at the top left quarter of the above map: The 'hut' is located in this area.

 

The cross road in the top left hand quarter of the map is where the convoy, containing the 50 captured prisoners, peels off at the roundabout (with a religious cross on the roadside) near the end of the film. They are shot in a field with St.Nikolaus church in the background.

Close up view of the roundabout where the convoy peels away in different directions.

 

The small town of WeiBbach is where the 'German dressed' Steve McQueen kicks a German soldier at the junction section of the town (the junction is above the letter 'a' in the word WeiBbach)

The iconic poster was photographed on the minor road immediately above the dark green woodland on the above map. The 'hut with the swastika on' is on the edge of this woodland near the roadside.....

 

 

 

Hopfen Am See