A frustrated former big-city journalist now stuck working for an Albuquerque newspaper exploits a story about a man trapped in a cave to re-jump start his career, but the situation quickly escalates into an out-of-control circus.
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
Charlton Heston was originally considered for the role of Sgt. J.J. Sefton, but when the script was altered to make the character less heroic, he was dropped in favor of someone more suitable for the role. Kirk Douglas stated he was next in line and declined the part, making William Holden the third choice. Douglas came to rue his decision, saying it was the biggest mistake of his career. See more »
The length of the lamp cord for the mailbox signal changes in many scenes. When we see it "knotted" and Shultz pulls it down the first time, it sets less than a foot over the table. Then in another scene, it is hung closer to 3 feet over the same table. In the next mail drop, it again pulls down very close to the table. Then after the information about the "time bomb" is delivered, it now hangs higher again. See more »
[a Red Cross official is inspecting the camp just after Sefton was beaten on suspicion being an enemy informant. The official sees his injuries]
What happened to you? Were you beaten?
[Sefton doesn't answer]
Why don't you answer?
[to the German officer escorting him]
What did you do to this man?
They didn't do nothing.
Who beat you?
Nobody beat me. We were playing pinochle. It's a rough game.
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When Johnny Comes Marching Home
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 »
Saw it for the first time in 2005- knew nothing about the director or the actors- and I couldn't turn away because I needed to know the answer to the mystery. The acting is superb, the dialogue quick, the plot unexpected. The film seems fresh and subtle compared to Hollywood films of now. Perhaps this is because the special effects are simple; the emphasis is on dialogue. We also watch for clues in the changing surroundings and the characters in the shadows.
I held my breath for the last few minutes. Even after the movie had ended, I wondered "What will happen now? Will the guards burst into the barrack? What will happen the next morning?" The last seconds of the film are peaceful, but the whistling at the end seems too hopeful...surely something will go still wrong!
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