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Stalag 17 (1953), the riveting drama of a German prisoner-of-war camp, was adapted from the Broadway play directed by José Ferrer in 1951. Billy Wilder developed the play and made the film version more interesting in every way. Edwin Blum, a veteran screenwriter and friend of Wilder's, collaborated on the screenplay but found working with Wilder an agonizing experience.
Wilder's mordant humor and misanthropy percolate throughout this bitter story of egoism, class conflict, and betrayal. As in a well-constructed murder mystery, the incriminating evidence points to the wrong man. Jeffrey Meyers's introduction enriches the reading of Stalag 17 by including comparisons with the Broadway production and the reasons for Wilder's changes.