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
When Sefton knocks on the water tank, at the latrine, he taps 10 TIMES to the tempo of the Army Air Corp song. Those knocks are UP WE GO (pause) INTO THE WILD BLUE YONDER. This is the same song Hoffy whistles to Dunbar as he is led out of von Scherbach's quarters, to let Dunbar know "something's up, so be ready". 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 »
[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.
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.
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