Stalag 17 (1953)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Drama, War  |  10 August 1953 (Brazil)
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 41,881 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:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The authors of Stalag 17 sued the creators of the TV series Hogan's Heroes (1965) for plagiarism, as they had submitted a proposal for a TV show based on their play in 1963 to CBS. The case was closed with an undisclosed settlement. See more »


Again with the lamp cord.Goof,in the name of "cinematic invention."Sefton sees the bulb and cord in silhouette on a brightly lit wall, yet later scenes reveal no rear light source: window, etc. able to cast the shadow. Also, when Sefton leans back on the bunk, his head casts a shadow on the bunk post in the opposite direction. See more »


Sgt. Schulz: We will grab some shovels and we will undig that tunnel which you digged.
Animal: Shulz, why don't we just plug up the tunnel with the Commandant in one end, and you in the other?
See more »


Referenced in Midnight Express (1978) See more »


I Love You (Je t'aime)
(1923) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Archer
Lyrics by Harlan Thompson
Played on a record and sung by Ross Bagdasarian
Played also as dance music
Sung a bit by Robert Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Absorbing & Very Entertaining
16 September 2004 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

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.

26 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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