Stalag 17

( 5 )

Overview

The scene is a German POW camp, sometime during the mid-1940s. Stalag 17, exclusively populated by American sergeants, is overseen by sadistic commandant Oberst Von Schernbach Otto Preminger and the deceptively avuncular sergeant Schultz Sig Ruman. The inmates spend their waking hours circumventing the boredom of prison life; at night, they attempt to arrange escapes. When two of the escapees, Johnson and Manfredi, are shot down like dogs by the Nazi guards, Stalag 17's resident wiseguy Sefton William Holden ...
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Overview

The scene is a German POW camp, sometime during the mid-1940s. Stalag 17, exclusively populated by American sergeants, is overseen by sadistic commandant Oberst Von Schernbach Otto Preminger and the deceptively avuncular sergeant Schultz Sig Ruman. The inmates spend their waking hours circumventing the boredom of prison life; at night, they attempt to arrange escapes. When two of the escapees, Johnson and Manfredi, are shot down like dogs by the Nazi guards, Stalag 17's resident wiseguy Sefton William Holden callously collects the bets he'd placed concerning the fugitives' success. No doubt about it: there's a security leak in the barracks, and everybody suspects the enterprising Sefton -- who manages to obtain all the creature comforts he wants -- of being a Nazi infiltrator. Things get particularly dicey when Lt. Dunbar Don Taylor, temporarily billetted in Stalag 17 before being transferred to an officer's camp, tells his new bunkmates that he was responsible for the destruction of a German ammunition train. Sure enough, this information is leaked to the Commandant, and Dunbar is subjected to a brutal interrogation. Certain by now that Sefton is the "mole," the other inmates beat him to a pulp. But Sefton soon learns who the real spy is, and reveals that information on the night of Dunbar's planned escape. Despite the seriousness of the situation, Stalag 17 is as much comedy as wartime melodrama, with most of the laughs provided by Robert Strauss as the Betty Grable-obsessed "Animal" and Harvey Lembeck as Stosh's best buddy Harry. Other standouts in the all-male cast include Richard Erdman as prisoner spokesman Hoffy, Neville Brand as the scruffy Duke, Peter Graves as blonde-haired, blue-eyed "all American boy" Price, Gil Stratton as Sefton's sidekick Cookie who also narrates the film and Robinson Stone as the catatonic, shell-shocked Joey. Writer/producer/director Billy Wilder and coscenarist Edmund Blum remained faithful to the plot and mood the Donald Bevan/Edmund Trzcinski stage play Stalag 17, while changing virtually every line of dialogue-all to the better, as it turned out Trzcinski, who like Bevan based the play on his own experiences as a POW, appears in the film as the ingenuous prisoner who "really believes" his wife's story about the baby abandoned on her doorstep. William Holden won an Academy Award for his hard-bitten portrayal of Sefton, which despite a hokey "I'm really a swell guy after all" gesture near the end of the film still retains its bite today.
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Editorial Reviews

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: 1/1/2013
  • UPC: 883929304929
  • Original Release: 1953
  • Source: Paramount Catalog
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 7,634

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 Sr.
Mike Bush Dancer
Donald Cameron
Janice Carroll
Jerry Gerber
Peter Leeds Barracks No. 1 POW
Harald Maresch
William McLean
John Mitchum
Robin Morse
Joe Ploski German Guard Volley
Paul Salata Prisoners with Beards
James R. Scott
Billy Sheehan
John Patrick Veitch
Alexander J. Wells
Max Willenz German Lieutenant Supervisor
Bob Templeton
Richard P. Beedle
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 Jennigns 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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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 5 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    Stalag 17 - Classic

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    My Reviews Chapter 11.

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2011

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2008

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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews