IMDb > Stalag 17 (1953)
Stalag 17
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Stalag 17 (1953) More at IMDbPro »

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Overview

User Rating:
8.1/10   37,596 votes »
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MOVIEmeter: ?
Up 6% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Billy Wilder (written for the screen by) and
Edwin Blum (written for the screen by) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Stalag 17 on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
10 August 1953 (Brazil) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
Hilarious, heart-tugging! You'll laugh...you'll cry...you'll cheer William Holden in his great Academy Award role! (from reissue print ad)
Plot:
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. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
Awards:
Won Oscar. Another 2 wins & 4 nominations See more »
NewsDesk:
(70 articles)
The Definitive War Movies: 30-21
 (From SoundOnSight. 18 June 2014, 6:54 AM, PDT)

Criterion Collection: Ace in the Hole | Blu-ray Review
 (From ioncinema. 13 May 2014, 8:00 AM, PDT)

New on Video: ‘Sabrina’
 (From SoundOnSight. 17 April 2014, 9:01 PM, PDT)

User Reviews:
Quasi-realism and burlesque: a comedic drama See more (132 total) »

Cast

  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

William Holden ... Sgt. J.J. Sefton
Don Taylor ... Lt. James Dunbar

Otto Preminger ... Oberst von Scherbach

Robert Strauss ... Sgt. Stanislaus 'Animal' Kuzawa

Harvey Lembeck ... Sgt. Harry Shapiro

Richard Erdman ... Sgt. 'Hoffy' Hoffman

Peter Graves ... Sgt. Frank Price

Neville Brand ... Duke
Sig Ruman ... Sgt. Johann Sebastian Schulz
Michael Moore ... Sgt. Manfredi
Peter Baldwin ... Sgt. Johnson
Robinson Stone ... Joey
Robert Shawley ... Sgt. 'Blondie' Peterson
William Pierson ... Marko the Mailman

Gil Stratton ... Sgt. Clarence Harvey 'Cookie' Cook (as Gil Stratton Jr.)
Jay Lawrence ... Sgt. Bagradian
Erwin Kalser ... Geneva Man
Edmund Trzcinski ... 'Triz' Trzcinski
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Marie Ardell ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Irene Bacha ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Ross Bagdasarian ... Singing Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Rodric Beckham ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Richard P. Beedle ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Tina Blagoi ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Mike Bush ... Dancer (uncredited)
Don Cameron ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Janice Carroll ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Jarvis Caston ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Tommy Cook ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Beatrice Da Yarr ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
James Dabney Jr. ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Zina Dennis ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Yvette Eaton ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Thomas B. Fleming ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Carl Forcht ... German Lieutenant (uncredited)
Ralph Gaston ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Jerry Gerber ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Lana Golubeff ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Ross Gould ... Von Scherbach's Orderly (uncredited)
Russell Grower ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Alla Gursky ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Willy Kaufman ... German Barrack Sergeant (uncredited)
William LaChasse ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Olga Lebedeff ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Forrest Lederer ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Peter Leeds ... Barracks #1 Prisoner of War Getting Distillery (uncredited)
Wesley Ling ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Harald Maresch ... German Lieutenant (uncredited)
Svetlana McLe ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Bill McLean ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Constance C. Meyer ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)

John Mitchum ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Robin Morse ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
William Mulcahy ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Joe Ploski ... German Guard - Volleyball Player (uncredited)
Harry Reardon ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Paul Salata ... Bearded Prisoner (uncredited)
William Schramm ... German Sentry (uncredited)
James R. Scott ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Bill Sheehan ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
A. Gerald Singer ... Steve - The Crutch (uncredited)
Mara Sondakoff ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Warren Sortomme ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Fred Spitz ... German Barrack Sergeant (uncredited)
Robert R. Stephenson ... German Barrack Sergeant (uncredited)
Audrey Strauss ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
Herbert Street ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)

Anthony M. Taylor ... Bit Part (uncredited)
Bob Templeton ... Bearded Prisoner (uncredited)
Del Tenney ... (uncredited)
Lyda Vashkulat ... Russian Woman Prisoner (uncredited)
John Veitch ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Steve Wayne ... Prisoner of War (uncredited)
Alexander J. Wells ... Bearded Prisoner (uncredited)
Max Willenz ... German Lieutenant Supervisor (uncredited)
William Yetter Jr. ... German Private (uncredited)
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Directed by
Billy Wilder 
 
Writing credits
Billy Wilder (written for the screen by) and
Edwin Blum (written for the screen by)

Donald Bevan (based on the play by) and
Edmund Trzcinski (based on the play by)

Produced by
William Schorr .... associate producer
Billy Wilder .... producer
 
Original Music by
Franz Waxman (uncredited)
 
Cinematography by
Ernest Laszlo (director of photography)
 
Film Editing by
George Tomasini 
 
Casting by
Bill Greenwald (casting) (uncredited)
Bert McKay (unit casting director) (uncredited)
 
Art Direction by
Franz Bachelin 
Hal Pereira 
 
Set Decoration by
Sam Comer 
Ray Moyer 
 
Makeup Department
Wally Westmore .... makeup supervisor
Harry Ray .... makeup artist (uncredited)
 
Production Management
Hugh Brown .... assistant production manager (uncredited)
Don Robb .... unit production manager (uncredited)
 
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Frank Baur .... assistant director (uncredited)
Charles C. Coleman .... assistant director (uncredited)
Harvey Dwight .... assistant director (uncredited)
Al Mann .... assistant director (uncredited)
 
Art Department
Earl Olin .... props (uncredited)
Tom Plews .... props (uncredited)
 
Sound Department
Gene Garvin .... sound recordist
Harold Lewis .... sound recordist
John Camarda .... sound recordist (uncredited)
Lyle Figland .... boom operator (uncredited)
Charles Kelly .... mike grip (uncredited)
August Van Koughnet .... sound cable (uncredited)
 
Visual Effects by
Gordon Jennings .... special photographic effects
 
Camera and Electrical Department
Neal Beckner .... camera operator (uncredited)
Don English .... stills (uncredited)
Thomas E. 'Pep' Lee .... best boy (uncredited)
Walter McLeod .... grip (uncredited)
Roy Roberts .... gaffer (uncredited)
Harlow Stengel .... assistant camera (uncredited)
 
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Allan Sloane .... wardrobe (uncredited)
 
Editorial Department
Doane Harrison .... editorial advisor
Robert Lawrence .... assistant editor (uncredited)
 
Music Department
Franz Waxman .... musical settings
Larry Bunker .... musician: percussion (uncredited)
Leonid Raab .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Troy Sanders .... music advisor (uncredited)
 
Other crew
Irving Cooper .... script clerk (uncredited)
Harry Hogan .... dialogue coach (uncredited)
Max Kolpé .... technical advisor (uncredited)
Art Sarno .... publicist (uncredited)
Edmund Trzcinski .... technical advisor (uncredited)
 
Crew verified as complete


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Additional Details

Also Known As:
Runtime:
120 min | Germany:116 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Recording)
Certification:
Australia:G | Finland:K-16 | Germany:16 (DVD rating) | Norway:12 | South Korea:12 (2004) | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) | UK:PG (tv rating) | UK:PG (video rating) (1988) (2002) | USA:Not Rated | USA:Approved (PCA #15866) | USA:TV-PG (TV rating) | West Germany:16 (f)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
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 »
Goofs:
Factual errors: When Sefton is explaining how he got hold of the telescope, he explains that he got together a "few lenses and a mirror". The telescope he has in the barracks is a refractor telescope, which doesn't use mirrors.See more »
Quotes:
Sefton:The Germans know where Dunbar is.
Hoffy:How do they know?
Sefton:You told them, Hoffy.
Hoffy:Who did?
Sefton:You did.
Hoffy:Are you off your rocker?
Sefton:Uh-huh. Fell right on my head.
See more »
Movie Connections:
Spoofed in Hot Shots! (1991)See more »
Soundtrack:
Adeste FidelesSee more »

FAQ

Where is the reference to adultery in "Stalag 17"?
Is is really possible that the traitor would have returned to Germany when the war broke out despite being an American?
How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
See more »
60 out of 71 people found the following review useful.
Quasi-realism and burlesque: a comedic drama, 7 February 2004
Author: Dennis Littrell from United States

There was surprisingly enough a lot of humor in the American attitude toward the Nazis and the Germans during World War II. Life goes on even under the conditions of being prisoners of war, and people need to laugh. In such circumstances, they especially need to laugh. We can see that in some of the songs from that time and in this play from Donald Bevant and Edmund Trzcinski that Billy Wilder made into an unusually good movie. It should be realized that the full extent of the horror that the Nazis had visited upon Europe was not known until after the war was over and we saw the films of the concentration camps.

William Holden stars as Sgt J.J. Sefton whose amoral cynicism and gift for the cheap hustle allow him to feather his nest even while a prisoner of war.

He's the guy who always had a storehouse of cigarettes, booze, silk stockings, candy, etc. under his bunk, the guy who always won at cards, whose proposition bets always gave him the edge. We had a guy like that when I was in the army. We called him "Slick."

But William Holden's Sefton is more than Slick. He is outrageously cynical and uncommonly brave. He takes chances because he doesn't have the same kind of fear that others have. Most people would feel self-conscious (and nervous) eating a fried egg while everybody else in the barracks had watery-thin potato soup. Others might feel uncomfortable with bribing German guards for bottles of Riesling or tins of sardines. Not Sefton. He flaunts his store of goodies.

Perhaps that is overdone. Perhaps the real hardships that prisoners went through are glossed over in this comedic drama--a comedy, incidentally, that plays very much like a Broadway musical without the music. Perhaps it is the case that from the distance of 1953 the deprivations of Stalag 17 have faded from memory and it is the "good times" that are recalled.

At any rate, I think it is this kind of psychology that accounts for the success of this unusual blend of quasi-realism and burlesque. Certainly Stalag 17 has been widely imitated, most familiarly in the TV sit-com "Hogan's Heroes" and to some extent on Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In." Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful, on the other hand, which also finds humor in the horrific, is of a different genre. Like Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Benigni's movie is from the theater of the absurd, not the Broadway stage.

Holden won an Oscar for his performance and Robert Strauss who played Animal was nominated in a supporting role. Otto Preminger, the legendary director and producer, was excellent as the two-faced Col Von Scherbach, the ex-calvary commander and camp commandant who can only take a phone call from the high command with his boots on so he can click his heels. I also liked Sig Rumann as Sgt Johann Sebastian Schulz ("always making with the jokes, you Americans") whose previous career as a wrestler in the US accounts for his English-language skills. Gil Stratton, who for years did the sports for CBS Channel 2 in Los Angeles, is interesting as Sefton's sidekick and funky.

Indeed, what is responsible for the success of this movie as much as anything is this fine cast playing well-defined character roles. By the way, Strauss and Harvey Lembeck ("Sugar Lips" Shapiro) were reprising their roles from Broadway.

Important is the fine plot line in which Sefton is accused of being a spy for the Nazis while the real spy is exposed step by step. At first we don't know who it is, and then we do, and then the prisoners find out.

This should be compared with Sunset Boulevard (1950). While very different movies they have similar elements which reveal part of the psyche and methods of director Billy Wilder. First there is the anti-hero as the protagonist, in both cases played by William Holden. Then there is a lot of the old Hollywood crowd appearing in both films including directors appearing as actors, Erich von Stroheim (not to mention Cecil B. DeMille in his memorable cameo as himself) in Sunset Boulevard, and Otto Preminger here. Sig Rumann has over a 100 credits going back to at least the early thirties. Finally there is the discordant mix of comedic and dramatic elements, a mix that works on our psyches because life is to some very real extent filled with tragedy in close congruence with the laughable.

But see this for William Holden who was the kind of actor who was best playing a compromised character as here and as the failed writer/reluctant gigolo in Sunset Boulevard, an actor who drank too much and tended to undistinguished, but when carefully directed could rise above his intentions and give a sterling performance.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)

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