Tedious, corny, quasi-novelized treatment of a potentially great story. In 1944 Amiens prison in northern France was filled -- both with French Resistance patriots (most awaiting trial and horrible execution) and with a variety of criminals. The American and British powers-that-be determined that the D-Day invasion would have to be postponed unless the all-but-depleted Resistance forces, crucial to invasion-related intelligence, could be replenished (and re-inspired). So, with Dulles, Donovan, and Britain's ""C"" as masterminds, a plan was put together to bomb the prison and arrange for the safe escape of as many Resistance workers as possible -- with the vital help of French people in the area. The complications were staggering: the danger of the flying mission; the exactitude required in the bombing to maximize escape and minimize casualties (""What if bomb blasts didn't blow open cell and communicating doors?""); the peril from Gestapo agents among the populace; the search for hiding-places for the escapees. And such a tale should have resulted in a taut piece of WW II history/action. Unfortunately, however, though Fishman (The Seven Men of Spandau, My Darling Clementine) vows that ""all events, scenes, and quotations stem from the testimony of eyewitnesses and documents,"" his fiction-like narrative dampens credibility throughout. Far worse, the decision to tell this cast-of-thousands story in episodic, novel-like style has produced a 448-page slogger that's weighed down at every turn by foolish, extraneous, You-Are-There detail. ("" 'Miss Reade, get me the file on Amiens prison.'/'Yes, sir,' the attractive red-headed girl replied."") The narrative is repetitious, dialogue-heavy, often cheaply sentimental in the style of boys'-adventure books--as when the flight's leader, Capt. Charles Pickard, is lost in action: ""'Pick not back -- it's unbelievable' "" said Dick Sugden, echoing everyone's thoughts aloud. Pick couldn't have bought it -- not Pick!"" And the result -- neither fish nor foul -- is likely to please only the least demanding fans of stiff-upper-lip WW II melodramas.