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
William LaChasse, had a bit part in the movie. He was hired by Paramount Pictures to be in several films after WWII. They bought him a SAG card and gave him a few lines in each film. Back then, there was no Screen Extras Guild. The real reason they made him an actor was a cheap way to use him as an Assistant Production Designer. He was actually a Prisoner of War for almost three years in Germany after being shot down in his B-17 by German Messerschmitt Fighter pilot, Otto Peter Stammberger. The production depended heavily on his recollection of how the prison camp looked. He said it started out as a "B" movie, but after "New York" saw the dailies they gave Billy Wilder "carte blanche." 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 »
In his lengthy and eventful career, Billy Wilder created many films that have rightly attained classic status, but his WWII prisoner of war comedy-drama Stalag 17 is arguably one of his best. The scripting is a perfect example of how to marry a tight plot with sharp dialogue and great characters, and the acting is flawless on all counts. While William Holden's performance as the cynical American sergeant rightly won him an Oscar, it is the comic antics of Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck that steal the show. And if there was ever a more entertaining ensemble of previously unseen (and sadly subsequently unheard of) supporting players - with the possible exception of Casablanca - I would love to see it. This film predates the more famous WWII pow film The Great Escape by more than a decade, but had Wilder, Holden and company not caused havoc in Stalag 17, the world would never have seen Steve McQueen play the cooler king with such wry aplomb. Stalag 17 is easily one of the finest films of its time, if not of all time, and I would encourage anyone who has never experienced its unique blend of cynicism, comedy, suspense and drama to check it out at the earliest available opportunity.
64 of 83 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?