It's a dreary Christmas 1944 for the American POWs in Stalag 17. For the men in Barracks 4, all sergeants, have to deal with a grave problem - there seems to be a security leak. The Germans always seem to be forewarned about escapes and in the most recent attempt the two men, Manfredi and Johnson, walked straight into a trap and were killed. For some in Barracks 4, especially the loud-mouthed Duke, the leaker is obvious: J.J. Sefton, a wheeler-dealer who doesn't hesitate to trade with the guards and who has acquired goods and privileges that no other prisoner seems to have. Sefton denies giving the Germans any information and makes it quite clear that he has no intention of ever trying to escape. He plans to ride out the war in what little comfort he can arrange, but it doesn't extend to spying for the Germans. As tensions mount and mob mentality takes root, it becomes obvious Sefton will have to find the real German agent in their midst, which he finally does.Written by
When the POWs are listening to the BBC, the information in the broadcast is about the Battle of the Bulge; specifically the Siege of Bastogne when the US 101st Airborne division was surrounded and cut off from the rest of US forces. The men hear about two tank units assigned to Patton's 3rd US Army being diverted to Bastogne. This is historically accurate and in line with the movie taking place around Christmas, 1944, as the first units of the US 10th Armored division arrived at the outskirts of Bastogne on December 18 and the US 4th Armored Division reached Bastogne and made contact with the encircled US 101st Airborne division on December 26. See more »
Even though he synchronized watches with Sefton, it takes Hoffy approximately 55 seconds to count from thirty seconds to one second, the point when the prisoners throw Price out of the barracks. See more »
As long as you're gonna move somebody in, how about a couple of them Russian broads?
Russian women prisoners?
Some are not bad at all.
Ja. Just get us a couple with beautiful glockenspiels.
[sharing a roar of laughter, then stopping]
Droppen sie dead!
See more »
This absorbing and very entertaining movie creates a believable and interesting cast of characters, puts them into an intriguing story, and uses its settings, props, and other resources very creatively. It is a fine combination of drama and comic relief that stands up very well against anything else of its type. The setting and atmosphere are quite believable, and they make it easy to enter the characters' world.
The opening sequence sets up everything nicely, with most of POW's helping two of the prisoners in an escape attempt, while William Holden as the cynical Sefton separates himself from the rest. Sefton is interesting enough as it is, a man who simply by remaining true to his nature cannot help arousing suspicion and antagonism, and Holden was quite a good choice to play him. The story builds up nicely, with developments coming at a careful pace, and some good stretches of lighter material.
There are numerous interesting characters and good performances among the other prisoners, and in particular Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck steal more than one scene with their antics which, though goofy, are also an appropriate complement to the main plot and the setting. The German characters are more stylized, but both Sig Ruman and Otto Preminger make them come to life, and help them fit in seamlessly with the others.
Billy Wilder's direction and the photography also deserve praise. Besides the way that each sequence fits together so nicely with the others, there are several individual scenes and shots that are done in an impressive fashion - not flashy, but creative and thoughtful. The scene with Holden lying on his cot while most of the others sing and celebrate is one particularly good example. There is a wealth of good material throughout, making "Stalag 17" a classic that has lost nothing over the years, and one that can be seen and enjoyed several times.
36 of 45 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this