Stalag 17

Stalag 17

4.8 5
Director: Billy Wilder

Cast: Billy Wilder, William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger

     
 

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Stalag 17 appeared on laserdisc at least twice, in versions that were more expensive than this DVD, neither of which looked as good as this disc or were remotely as convenient. With a running time of almost exactly 120 minutes, Billy Wilder's World War II prison camp drama was a difficult film on laser, either jammed too tightly onto two sides or divided…  See more details below

Overview

Stalag 17 appeared on laserdisc at least twice, in versions that were more expensive than this DVD, neither of which looked as good as this disc or were remotely as convenient. With a running time of almost exactly 120 minutes, Billy Wilder's World War II prison camp drama was a difficult film on laser, either jammed too tightly onto two sides or divided awkwardly onto three; here it's just a pleasure to watch, without any breaks and looking good, in razor-sharp detail and beautiful contrasts. The movie has dated less than most POW dramas, mostly because of its edge of cynicism, which was new in 1953 and still punches through to the viewer. William Holden's knowingly wry, self-interested scrounger was so compelling an image coming out of this movie that the producers of Bridge on the River Kwai virtually transposed the character intact in everything but name to David Lean's epic to help ensure its success. The 14 chapters break the movie down effectively enough, but the producers have done little else -- one wishes that there were at least a trailer here. But this disc points up how little Paramount has done to enhance any of the Billy Wilder films in their library. Wilder himself may be too old to do a commentary track, but there are any number of scholars of his work that could have done one on the production history, impact, and influence of this film.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Gregory Baird
Billy Wilder finds surprisingly frothy humor in the darkest of settings in Stalag 17, a World War II film that moves freely between comedy and drama. The eponymous prisoner-of-war camp somewhere on the Danube houses 600 captured American airmen, and the film paints a slice-of-life portrait of their day-to-day lives, focusing on jaded wheeler-dealer William Holden, who is suspected by his fellow prisoners of spying for the Nazi wardens. Holden won an Oscar for his hard-boiled yet multifaceted performance as the wily sergeant who makes a fortune in cigarettes (the prisoners' main currency), runs a distillery, and stages mouse races for his fellow inmates. But it’s the film’s array of colorful characters that really make it come alive. Notable here is famed director Otto Preminger as the camp's commandant -- a turn that recalls Jean Renoir's Grand Illusion, a clear precursor to Stalag 17, in which director Erich von Stroheim starred as a WWI POW camp commandant. Many viewers will also recognize Stalag 17 as the template for the beloved '60s TV series Hogan's Heroes. Although the film does darken toward the end, as a mysterious spy is unmasked, Stalag 17 is a POW camp, not a concentration camp. Eschewing heart- and gut-wrenching moments, Wilder moves deftly through territory where the Geneva Convention still holds, with just enough heroism and patriotism to make Stalag 17 a WWII genre classic.
All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
Billy Wilder's Stalag 17 was a new kind of war movie in 1953, a more realistic look at POW camp life than earlier POW movies (often British) had offered, featuring vivid depictions of larceny, betrayal, sadism, gallows humor, and a near-lynching of an innocent (though hardly guiltless) man. Wilder and his actors -- even though several are trapped in stock war-movie characterizations -- create a level of tension that forces the viewer to suspend disbelief, even as the movie seldom moves outside the confines of a single barrack. Stalag 17 helped William Holden establish his cynical, macho persona, a more hard-bitten descendant of the characters that Humphrey Bogart played in such 1940s movies as Casablanca and The Maltese Falcon; (ironically, Holden and Bogart would play brothers in Wilder's next movie, Sabrina). The success of Wilder's movie paved the way for more explorations of this subject and provided the blueprint for the TV series Hogan's Heroes, which emphasized the humorous elements first explored in Wilder's film.

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Product Details

Release Date:
12/14/1999
UPC:
0097360581645
Original Release:
1953
Rating:
NR
Source:
Paramount
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[B&W]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital Mono]
Time:
2:00:00

Special Features

Closed Caption; Standard version; Dolby Digital: English Mono; English subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing); Interactive menus; Scene selection

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
William Holden Sefton
Don Taylor Lieutenant Dunbar
Otto Preminger Von Scherbach
Robert Strauss "Animal" Stosh
Harvey Lembeck Harry Shapiro
Peter Graves Price
Sig Rumann Schulz
Neville Brand Duke
Richard Erdman Hoffy
Michael Moore Manfredi
Peter Baldwin Johnson
Robinson Stone Joey
Robert Shawley Blondie
William Pierson Marko
Gil Stratton Cookie/Narrator
Jay Lawrence Bagradian
Erwin Kalser Geneva Man
Ross Bagdasarian Actor
Mike Bush Dancer
Donald Cameron Actor
Janice Carroll Actor
Jerry Gerber Actor
Peter Leeds Barracks No. 1 POW
Harald Maresch Actor
William McLean Actor
John Mitchum Actor
Robin Morse Actor
Joe Ploski German Guard Volley
Paul Salata Prisoners with Beards
James R. Scott Actor
Billy Sheehan Actor
John Patrick Veitch Actor
Alexander J. Wells Actor
Max Willenz German Lieutenant Supervisor
Bob Templeton Actor
Richard P. Beedle Actor
Tommy Cook Prisoners of War

Technical Credits
Billy Wilder Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Franz Bachelin Art Director
Edwin Blum Screenwriter
Sam Comer Set Decoration/Design
Gene Garvin Sound/Sound Designer
Doane Harrison Editor
Gordon Jennings Special Effects
Ernest Laszlo Cinematographer
Harold Lewis Sound/Sound Designer
Ray Moyer Set Decoration/Design
Hal Pereira Art Director
George Tomasini Editor
Franz Waxman Score Composer
Wally Westmore Makeup

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Scene Index

Side #1 --
1. Prisoners of War [9:58]
2. Roll Call [12:28]
3. Chow [4:50]
4. The Radio [8:06]
5. Sergeant JJ Sefton [10:07]
6. Mail Call [4:38]
7. Lieutenant Dunbar [9:16]
8. Kangaroo Court [8:53]
9. The Geneva Man [10:06]
10. A Ringer [10:12]
11. Party Time [9:20]
12. Crazy Scheme [5:52]
13. The Stoolie [10:00]
14. Escape [6:28]

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Stalag 17 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
This movie is an excellent blockbuster. It switches from comedy to drama frequently, but it isn't hard to understand. It can be a family film or a film for any average Joe or others. If you want a historicaly correct movie I do not reccomend it but if you are sick of war movies with peoples guts spilling out this is perfect. It is an original, interesting plot with great names in the cast.
tbhofmeister More than 1 year ago
Stalag 17, borrows many plot elements from Renoir's classic The Grand Illusion, but from there the great Billy Wilder takes hold of the material and takes it into a new exciting direction. The film deals with many issues that are unfunny and situations where actual men have died in, but even so Wilder does one of the best jobs to date seamlessly blending comedy and drama to create one of the best films to date. With great acting from principle and secondary actors Stalag 17 is filled with drama, tension, humor, and the great director Otto Preminger as the prison camps Commandant. This is a must see for a few reasons; first for Billy Wilder who is arguably the best writer/director in Hollywood history and seeing any of his films is a treat; secondly because it is hard to find a film that jumps from serious drama to comedy without missing a beat as this does; and lastly because of the performances of all actors involved. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Billy Wilder really knows how to get the best out of his actors and manages the material like a true professional.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago