top of page
  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Victory (1981)

What is this movie is about?/Elevator Pitch: Survival in a prison camp is just as much about having hope and purpose as it is surviving the boredom.

Plot Summary: While touring a prisoner of war camp, Major Karl von Steiner (Max Von Sydow), notices a team of prisoners coached by Captain John Colby (Michael Caine), a former professional English player. Von Steiner proposes a friendly game between the Germans and the Prisoners. When Colby ultimately accepts, the German propaganda machine smells an opportunity to have a major coup and schedules the game in Paris. Several prisoners join the team including Captain Robert Hatch (Sylvester Stallone) and Corporal Luis Fernandez (Pele). The prison camp leadership realizes that they may use this game as an attempt to have the team escape. When Hatch proposes his own escape plan, the leaders convince him to communicate with the underground to set up the escape attempt.


  • John Huston as Director

  • Evan Jones as Writer

  • Yabo Yablonsky as Writer

  • Bill Conti as Composer

  • Sylvester Stallone as Captain Robert Hatch

  • Michael Caine as Captain John Colby

  • Pelé as Corporal Luis Fernandez

  • Bobby Moore as Terry Brady

  • Osvaldo Ardiles as Carlos Rey

  • Paul Van Himst as Michel Fileu

  • Kazimierz Deyna as Paul Wolchek

  • Hallvar Thoresen as Gunnar Hilsson

  • Mike Summerbee as Sid Harmor

  • Co Prins as Pieter Van Beck

  • Russell Osman as Doug Clure

  • John Wark as Arthur Hayes

  • Søren Lindsted as Erik Ball

  • Kevin O'Callaghan as Tony Lewis (as Kevin O'Calloghan)

  • Max von Sydow as Major Karl von Steiner

  • Gary Waldhorn as Hauptmann Rainer Mueller


  • Victory debuted on July 31, 1981, and garnered a domestic box office of $10,853,418.

  • Victory currently holds a 63% on RT, and a 57% on Metacritic.

  • The film received great attention upon its theatrical release, as it also starred professional footballers Bobby Moore, Osvaldo Ardiles, Kazimierz Deyna, Paul Van Himst, Mike Summerbee, Hallvar Thoresen, Werner Roth and Pelé.

Did You Know:

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

  • 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 football team in Ukraine, found work in a bakery. There they formed a Football 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 were arrested by the Gestapo, and four were executed.

  • Sir Michael Caine admitted that the only reason he agreed to make this movie was the opportunity to work alongside footballing legend Pelé.

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

  • Osvaldo Ardiles said of the 47-year-old Sir Michael Caine and his soccer skills, "Awful, and he couldn't even run twenty yards."

  • The MTK Stadium in Budapest, Hungary was used to play the Stade Colombes (Colombes 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 World War II) that they could find. The stadium today is the home of the MTK Hungária Football Club.

  • Director John Huston hated the movie and admitted he only did it for the paycheck.

Best Performance: John Huston (Director)/Pele (Luis)

Best Secondary Performance: Sylvester Stallone (Hatch)/Michael Caine (Colby)

Most Charismatic Award: Sylvester Stallone (Hatch)

Best Scene:

  • Hatch's First Escape

  • Renee and the Resistance

  • First Half

  • Half-Time

  • Second Half

  • Final Penalty

  • Escape to Victory

Favorite Scene: Second Half

Most Indelible Moment: Pele Bicycle Kick/Escape to Victory

In Memorium:

  • Liz Sheridan, 93, American actress (Seinfeld, Alf, Play the Game)

  • Hollis Resnik, 67, American singer and actress (Backdraft)

  • Rio Hackford, 51, American actor (Treme, Jonah Hex, Swingers, The Mandalorian), son of director Taylor Hackford and stepson of Dame Helen Mirren.

Best Lines/Funniest Lines:

Hatch: This frigging game is ruining my life.

John Colby: What's the verdict on Williams?

Maj. Karl Von Steiner: A regrettable mistake.

John Colby: The whole bloody war's a regrettable mistake.

Maj. Karl Von Steiner: I agree.

Hatch: Where do I stand for a corner kick?

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 3.5

Impact/Significance: 2.75

Novelty: 5.5

Classic-ness: 4.75

Rewatchability: 3.5

Audience Score: 8.05 (90% Google, 71% RT)

Total: 28.05

Remaining Questions:

  • How do you explain the about-face by Colby on escape?

  • Why was there a crowd for this if they used fake crowd noise anyway?

  • How did the Germans not shoot anyone in the last scene?

31 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page