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Stalag 17 (1953)

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German P.O.W. camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer.

Director:

Billy Wilder

Writers:

Billy Wilder (written for the screen by), Edwin Blum (written for the screen by) | 2 more credits »
Reviews
Popularity
3,683 ( 1,427)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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 Michael Moore ... Sgt. Manfredi
Peter Baldwin ... Sgt. Johnson
Robinson Stone Robinson Stone ... Joey
Robert Shawley ... Sgt. 'Blondie' Peterson
William Pierson ... Marko the Mailman
Gil Stratton ... Sgt. Clarence Harvey 'Cookie' Cook (as Gil Stratton Jr.)
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Storyline

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 garykmcd

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Hilarious, heart-tugging! You'll laugh...you'll cry...you'll cheer William Holden in his great Academy Award role! (from reissue print ad)

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While filming at Paramount's ranch in Calabasas, California, Billy Wilder reportedly wore his best shoes to work in the mud. He felt it was only fair, since he was asking his cast and crew to work under filthy, muddy conditions day after day. He even refused to use the planks that were set down for Otto Preminger's commandant character and as a result ruined his very expensive footwear. See more »

Goofs

The flight jacket worn by the captured gunner with Lt. Dunbar is not authentic with its slash pockets. Also, while the 600+ men in that part of the camp are all described as captured airmen, many are wearing infantry men's long wool overcoats and lightweight waist-length jackets that aircrew would not have worn. Aircrew would have some type of leather or cloth flight jacket or coveralls on rather than overcoats. Sefton's B3 jacket is authentic but looks almost new. He also wears an A2 in one scene. Not too unusual since gunners would wear many layers of clothing in their unheated bombers. See more »

Quotes

Hoffy: Hey, Sefton. What's the big idea? Take that telescope out of here.
Sefton: Says who?
Hoffy: Says me.
Sefton: You take it out. Only you're gonna have a riot on your hands.
Hoffy: Every time the men get Red Cross packages, you have to think up some angle to rob 'em.
Price: When the Krauts find that gadget, they'll throw us all in the boob.
Sefton: They know about that gadget. I'd worry more about that radio.
Duke: Maybe they also know about your distillery and the horse races.
Sefton: That's right.
Duke: Just what makes you and them Krauts so buddy-buddy?
[...]
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Express (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

I Love You (Je t'aime)
(1923) (uncredited)
Music by Harry Archer
Lyrics by Harlan Thompson
Played on a record and sung by Ross Bagdasarian
Played also as dance music
Sung a bit by Robert Strauss
See more »

User Reviews

 
Underrated? - understatement!
28 February 2000 | by jmcsween90See all my reviews

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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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Russian

Release Date:

10 August 1953 (Brazil) See more »

Also Known As:

Stalag 17 See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,661,530 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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