Stalag 17 (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War  |  10 August 1953 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 41,891 users  
Reviews: 138 user | 76 critic

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.



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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Don Taylor ...
Sgt. Stanislaus 'Animal' Kuzawa
Sgt. Harry Shapiro
Sgt. Frank Price
Sig Ruman ...
Michael Moore ...
Sgt. Manfredi
Peter Baldwin ...
Sgt. Johnson
Robinson Stone ...
Robert Shawley ...
Sgt. 'Blondie' Peterson
William Pierson ...
Sgt. Clarence Harvey 'Cookie' Cook (as Gil Stratton Jr.)


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 a mob mentality takes root, it becomes obvious that Sefton will have to find the real snitch if he is to have any peace and avoid the beatings Duke and ... Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

german | barracks | escape | spy | guard | See All (56) »


Hilarious, heart-tugging! You'll'll'll cheer William Holden in his great Academy Award role! (from reissue print ad)


Comedy | Drama | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

10 August 1953 (Brazil)  »

Also Known As:

Infierno en la tierra  »

Box Office


$1,661,530 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


William Holden did not like the part of Sefton at all as written in the script, thinking him too selfish. He kept asking Billy Wilder to make Sefton nicer and Wilder refused. Holden actually refused the role but was forced to do it by the studio. See more »


Stanislas "Animal" Kasava is falling on his butt into the mud, but his white underwear isn't getting dirty. Two minutes later running to see the Russians girls, he falls again and then he's muddy all over. See more »


Oberst Von Scherbach: All right then, gentlemen, we are all friends again. And with Christmas coming on I have a special treat for you. I'll have you all deloused for the holidays and I'll have a little Christmas tree for every barrack. You will like that.
See more »


Referenced in Madagascar (2005) See more »


When Johnny Comes Marching Home
(1863) (uncredited)
Written by Louis Lambert
Played during the opening credits
Played on a record and sung by the prisoners of war
Whistled a bit by Gil Stratton at the end
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

In Defense of "Stalag 17"
24 July 2001 | by (not sure) – See all my reviews

In defense of this great film "Stalag 17", I would like to say a few things. First of all, William Holden's performance in this film gives this film a very big lead against many other films like it. Holden is a very good actor given a very good role here as Sefton, a soldier that uniquely accepts his situation. The other supporting, and even prominent roles are good but seems "intentionally" underdeveloped for the benefit of not complicating viewers with unnecessary information. The story, consisting of a "whodunit" plot, wartime ordeals, and amusing dialogue between the characters is superb for it's time. All in all, watching "Stalag 17" is at least a fine way to spend your time.

I've read many reviews that say that they were disappointed with this film. Some were annoyed because it wasn't as realistically gritty and tense like "Saving Private Ryan". Well, that's the effect of the Hays Offices (censorship officials of American produced movies during the past). I have to say that although it may have lacked the grittiness of Spielberg's film, it still surpasses "Saving Private Ryan" for it's honest approach to it's characters such as the POW that responds to his wife's letter ("I believe it.") with a certain kind of feeling that can truly be described as honest and the German "Wake up caller" Scherbach's constant joking around with POWs while remaining true to his kommandant's wishes. The 'Animal' and Shapiro characters were obviously created for comic relief but it should only be taken as that, comic relief (Hell, everyone's a comedian and at least they tried). Most anybody that was disappointed with this film were probably disappointed for it's strange association with the TV show "Hogan's Heroes". I must say that I don't care much for that certain show but I do like this film.

I really don't think that any film should ever be compared with another film or a TV show (unless it's a spinoff, then they're just asking for it) no matter how related they are. A movie is a movie on it's own and never with the help of another, no matter the similarities. This is a classic film, worthy of it's praise yet unworthy of it's negative critique. Nobody should let personal opinions be considered flaws. Just watch it, when you have the chance, with an open mind.

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