Donald Pleasence did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Flight Lieutenant Colin Blythe RAF "The Forger" in The Great Escape.
Donald Pleasence takes great care in his creation of Blythe as a rather sensitive tea drinking fellow who has found himself in the wrong place. Pleasence is very good because he avoids any parody in his portrayal of his manner. Characters like this quite often are used for comic purpose. He gives instead an earnest depiction of this man who would rather be watching birds, and comes off as always rather sweet in his depiction of Blythe that as well suggests the man's past. He doesn't overplay this sweetness either making it a natural part of his character. He also though does show the usefulness of Blythe within the camp portraying a certain cunning that always exists in the same man who wishes he could have milk with his tea. Pleasence, along with pretty much the entire cast, creates a nice sense of camaraderie in his performance. There is always the sense that there is no selfishness in his work and there is a certain devotion in Pleasence performance that suggests properly that Blythe honestly wishes to help all the men escape.
The main conflict of his story though comes in that Blythe is losing his eyesight and it seems he will be unable to attempt escape. Pleasence is very good in these scenes not only in his portrayal of the physical nature of his poor eyesight which he portrays as Blythe always attempting to focus though he can't, but as well the quiet disappointment in Blythe that he portrays so unassumingly that he makes it all the sadder. Blythe is allowed to go because a fellow pow Hendley (James Garner) volunteers to take him along. Pleasence and Garner are an unlikely pair to be sure but they actually have a certain chemistry that really works well in their scenes together. They create a great deal of sympathy for their plight and makes their story possibly the most powerful. Although they are very low key in their portrayal of it their little friendship ends being quite moving particularly their last scene together. Pleasence exit is short but appropriately heartbreaking in that he still portrays Blythe as his pleasant optimistic self even as he faces death. Blythe's story could have easily been a throwaway one but Pleasence gives such an emotionally genuine performance that he makes Blythe one of the best parts of the film.