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
On the first day of shooting, Billy Wilder made it clear that the script was to be delivered exactly as written with no deviation. He addressed this to the entire cast but with particular focus on William Holden, who wanted lines changed or added to make the character of Sefton more likeable, and Otto Preminger. The latter had a tendency to ham it up and, as a seasoned director himself, was used to calling the shots. 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 »
We will grab some shovels and we will undig that tunnel which you digged.
Shulz, why don't we just plug up the tunnel with the Commandant in one end, and you in the other?
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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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