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 mob mentality takes root, it becomes obvious Sefton will have to find the real German agent in their midst, which he finally does.Written by
Neville Brand and Robert Strauss co-starred in this film. Brand and Strauss would later reunite in the film The George Raft Story (1961) with Brand in another one of his most memorable roles, Al Capone. See more »
It's December 1944. Every morning at 6:00 it's roll call for the prisoners of Stalag 17. Although in the middle of December, in southern Germany the sun will never rise before 8:00; the roll call in the movie is in full daylight. See more »
[watching Sefton cook an egg]
Are you gonna eat it all by yourself?
Mm-hmm. The yellow and the white.
Is all right if we smell it?
Just don't drool on it.
You're not gonna eat the shells?
[Harry gives him half the shell]
Hey, thanks. What are we gonna do with it?
We're gonna plant it, Animal. We're gonna grow us a chicken for Christmas.
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When Johnny Comes Marching Home
Written by Louis Lambert
Played during the opening credits
Played on a record and sung by the prisoners of war
Whistled a bit by Gil Stratton at the end See more »
Underrated? - understatement!
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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