Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
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Product Description

Set in a German POW Camp for enlisted American airmen a spy is discovered to be living in one of the prison barracks after an escape attempt fails resulting in the deaths of two inmates. The prisoners at once suspect Septon an unscrupulous inside dealer who trades almost anything with the Germans for extra privileges. After Septon is beaten up he himself determines to find the real spy and the result is a mixture of intrigue and betrayal leading to a surprise ending.System Requirements:Running Time: 120 MinFormat: DVD MOVIE Genre: DRAMA Rating: NR UPC: 097360412048 Manufacturer No: 041204

Black comedy and suspenseful action inside a German POW camp during World War II--a setting that was later borrowed for the TV sitcom Hogan's Heroes. The great director Billy Wilder adapted the hit stage play, applying his own wicked sense of humor to the apparently bleak subject matter. William Holden plays an antisocial grouse amid a gang of wisecracking though indomitable American prisoners. Because of his bitter cynicism, Holden is suspected by the others of being an informer to the Germans, an accusation he must deal with in his own crafty way. Holden, who had delivered a brilliant performance for Wilder in Sunset Boulevard, won the 1953 Best Actor Oscar for Stalag 17. Very much his equal, however, is Otto Preminger, an accomplished director himself, who plays the strict, sneering camp commandant. --Robert Horton

Customer Reviews:

  • Excellent acting
    One of William Holden's best, though he seldom gave a poor performance anyway. The richness of the other actors and excellent camera angles and editing make this an excellent movie to enjoy over and over again. ...more info
  • BE BEHOLDEN TO HOLDEN
    Classic 1953 movie gave Holden a well deserved Oscar.As director of all inside "resources" at Stalag 17, Holden controls gambling, cigarettes etc. and isn't the least bit shy about taking advantage of it. Many of his comrades hate him, others think he's a Nazi spy. There's a spy loose inside all right, but it isn't he. After nearly getting killed by his own men,Holden comes upon a secret communications device which exposes the traitor and "turns the tables". As Holden leads an escape party out of camp, the Nazi "plant" is struck down by his own men, at the feet of Preminger, a well cast commandant. Do not consider this film as being a forerunner to the comedic "Hogan's Heroes" of the 1960's, even though many ideas may have been borrowed from it. This is a first rate production from all star director, Wilder, from whom you usually got the best....more info
  • Move over Hogan!!!!!
    If you liked Hogan's Heroes ( The series was based on this film ) , then you'll like this more. This movie is more dramatic than comedic. But these were the days when good acting and cool catch phrases were the 'in' thing. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this film, so if you come across a critic that rags it, he's probably the by-product of animal inbreeding.
    For the price of the DVD, you have to be crazy not to buy this flick. It's more for the mid 30's to mid 60's audience, but if you ever want to pick up a good looking chick into old war movies, then see this movie, you're guaranteed to get lucky....more info
  • At Ease!
    I already had a great appreciation for the talent of William Holden long before I ever had the chance to see "Stalag 17". His roles in "Sunset Boulevard" and "Bridge on the River Kwai" were outstanding. Therefore his Academy Award preformance must be out of this world! Well, it's pretty darn good but the movie itself isn't nearly as good as the aforementioned two movies of his. It's still a good movie but I suspect that it was a better stage production than it was a movie.

    There is a lot to keep the audience's interest including some comic relief thanks to Harvey Lembeck. There's also the mystery of who the camp stool pidgeon is. But let's face it, to show life in a WWII German prison camp as constantly suspenseful would totally ignore the reality of boredom that most of those men must have faced. The narration that is supposed to help move the picture along seemed too overdone. What does make the movie work is the drama that rises from the tension these men had from knowing that a traitor was in their midst. They were sure they had the guy pegged but their mistaken assumption helped raise the dramatic level even more.

    The film does get moving fairly well towards the last half and this is where Holden really gets to show his capabilities as an actor. All in all, this is a good movie but it was probably a great play....more info
  • One of the Great Flicks of All Time
    Stalag 17. What else needs to be said? For those of you who have never seen this comedy-drama about P.O.W.s, you're missing out on one of the twenty best films of all time. The story starts out with two prisoners escaping with the help of their bunkmates. But outside the camp they are killed, because the Nazis knew of the escape. The other prisoners now know that there is a tratior in their mist. They focus on William Holden's slezzy character and belive it's him. Knowing it is not him, he must find the real informer before he can strike again. I won't give anymore away, except to watch the classic scene where all the prisoners put on Adolf Hitler mustaces, and hold a fake rally with a copy of Mien Kampf. You'll never laugh harder. For you younger viewers out there who don't like older flicks, give this one a try. You may find that you end up liking classic movies in the end. I'm only twenty-seven and I have known of this classic since I was only twelve or so. Enjoy!...more info
  • Magnum PI's Favorite Movie
    Thomas Magnum said that this movie had everything, comedy -drama ... it was his favorite movie.

    That's good enough for me ! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA...more info
  • The Humane Cynicism of STALAG 17
    This past Christmas, I found myself cooped up for a time with a broken arm and unable to travel as planned. I was looking around the collection for what might be termed "unconventional Christmas fare" and came across this 1953 classic. I had forgotten that some of the key scenes, in fact the film's finale, took place around Yuletide. But when I recalled that fact, it occurred to me that this Oscar winning drama/black comedy seemed just about what the doctor ordered--a dash of Wilderesque cynicism mixed with a hopeful message.

    The introductory voice over, spoken by one of the film's minor characters apparently years after VE-Day, voices some frustration over how heretofore the movies never paid the heroes in prison camps their due. Well, after this one, they certainly did (and European cinema had done so previously, of course, in the form of Renoir's GRAND ILLUSION, but you can hardly expect an American WWII GI character to be aware of that, I guess). But STALAG 17 was a first in American cinema--and seems to have inspired efforts as diverse as THE GREAT ESCAPE and TV's HOGAN'S HEROES. But the first was, in many ways, the best.

    Based on the stage play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trczinski (with a screenplay adapted, in part, by director Billy Wilder himself), STALAG was a perfect vehicle for showing the both the absurdities and the horror of war. The comic moments (many of them, featuring Harvey Lembeck and Robert Strauss, as sadsack a pairing as you could ever hope to find) are offset by considerable tension and drama of the "stoolie" plotline and the escape attempts.

    William Holden was especially good as the cynical hero, Sefton. His hustler character provides him with a few good comic moments of his own, at least before the "stool pigeon" storyline takes off in earnest. After that point, he goes from hard-bitten hustler to dignified stoic and ultimately to hero. No surprise that he carried home the Academy Award for that year: it probably would have been surprising if he had not.

    STALAG 17 could be viewed as a story of the redemption of one man who transitions from cynical "Macher" to genuine hero. An alternate take might be that the outsider figure is more likely to contain the seeds of true heroism within him than those who hew the straight and narrow. When the identity of the actual "stoolie" is revealed, it is not surprising (and is certainly significant) that he is one of the more conventionally virtuous and "heroic" POWs. (And another stroke of casting genius: you find yourself saying, [SPOILER WARNING]"Of course, of course, the Aryan ideal in Airman's clothing!!!"

    And speaking of Aryans, the great Otto Preminger is onhand as the sinister, but fallible Kommandant. And Sig Ruman adds a deft comic touch to his character, one Sgt. Schultz, and while it is plain these two great character actors inspired similar (and in Schultz's case, identically named) characters in the sit-com HOGAN'S HEROES, they are neither one of them the one-dimensional caricatures of that questionable series.

    Nearly all the supporting players are remarkable, in fact. Most of the POW characters (with the exception of the Nazi plant, of course) convey a quiet heroism, along with the aformentioned comic human touches. But since nearly all are quick to condemn the outsider in their midst as a traitor, they also embody something of an uncritical mob mentality as well. Nothing black and white here. It is, as they say, emblematic of the human condition.





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  • best prisoner of war movie ever made.
    The plot is good and kept me watching every second of the movie. Its a psychological drama and it doesn't get much better then this. ...more info
  • MNReview
    Good quality. A must for Holden fans. Seemed to be a true story of WW2 Prisoner of War camps. (Some fun moments.)...more info
  • GREAT WAR CLASSIC
    THIS COVERS A LOT WILDERS' OWN CLASSIC STYLE IN MOVIE MAKING WITH A GREAT CAST. THIS CATCHES SOME OF ELEMENTS OF WAR THAT OTHERS FORGET, OR DISMISS. FOR THE YOUNG IT SHOWS THE WAYS SOME WERE BETRAYED, AND HOW OTHERS SURVIVED. IT HAS IT'S MOMENTS OF COMEDY, BUT KEEPS IT IN CONTROL WITH THE STARK REALITY OF THE SURROUNDINGS. THE OUTCOME IS SURPRISING TO THOSE WHO SEE IT FOR THE FIRST TIME.
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  • This First POW Movie a Classic!!!
    A classic Billy Wilder film (1953) starring William Holden who plays Sefton interned at a vast POW compound for enlisted men. Despite the drama and humor, there was a security leak. No one knew who the "stoolie" was after two POWs were killed in their escape attempt, but Sefton had been under suspicion for the longest time kept under the watchful eye of his fellow prisoners, until Sefton decides quietly to investigate for himself who the real stoolie was. The common practice in Nazi Germany was to place informers inside compounds as POWs themselves for the purpose of gathering vital information under secrecy for the kommandant. Sefton would then piece things together to blow the stoolie's cover. Did he find the right man?

    Interesting parts of the movie was a lot of the humor involved in it such as the "antenna" which was actually a roll of chicken wire used as a volleyball net and to pick up allied reports on a borrowed radio. Robert Strauss and Harvey Lembeck played the two comedy geniuses Animal and Harry Shapiro, respectively. Animal with his deep longing for poster girl Betty Grable and Shapiro trying to console him by dressing up and posing like her during a Christmas party in the barracks. And if it wasn't Betty Grable it was Russian women in an adjacent compound that Animal and Shapiro managed to get into by getting past the guard.

    Others who have starred in this movie: Peter Graves as Price, Richard Erdman as the barracks chief Hoffy, Neville Brand as the rough and tough Duke, Sig Ruman as the comical German Sergeant Johann Sebastian Schultz and Otto Preminger as the ruthless kommandant Oberst Von Scherbach. "Stalag 17" paved the way for subsequent, classic POW movies such as "The Bridge on the River Kwai" (1957) also starring Holden as a POW, and "The Great Escape" (1963) starring Steve McQueen.

    This B&W movie is fun to watch for any World War II buff and I would highly recommend it!!!...more info
  • "What time was it when Pearl Harbor was bombed...?"
    This superb WWII drama stars William Holden as Sefton, a cynical self-promoter and POW who trades with his German captors to live well, while his fellow prisoners are suffering and hating him. It seems an informer is at work in the barracks; the commandant knows who is escaping and how, and where the hidden radio is. Sefton is the obvious suspect. After the guys take out their frustrations on him, he sets out to discover the identity of the real traitor - and you'll be surprised who it is!

    There are some very funny scenes as well as heart-tugging ones; the harsh realities of life and death in the camp are shown, but the real story is Sefton, the misunderstood outsider, and his struggle to prove himself. William Holden won the Academy Award for his performance. The supporting cast is excellent, as is the script. This is one film you can enjoy over and over. It's entertaining, suspensful, and has a clever twist at the end. A moving salute to the spirit of the American GI....more info
  • It's a Classic
    For you younger people that have never heard of this movie or have flipped by the thing because it's in black and white, boy, are you in for a treat! If you don't like this movie, then, you don't like movies. It is a classic that needs to be in everyone's collection. It is on the top 50 list of all time. If you liked "Independence Day" or other similar movies, you won't like this because this has a plot and character development.

    William Holden's character is in a German WWII prison camp that has someone else in the prison camp passing information to the Germans. Since Holden's character is a wheeler-dealer and openly trades with the Germans, the other prisoners put two and two together and get four only, as Holden's character says "it ain't four!"

    Even after all the times I've seen this film, once I start watching the thing I can't stop and always end up watching it until the end. This is one of those rare movies you can actually call a classic.

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  • "Anybody here want to double their bet?"
    Billy Wilder's "Stalag 17" is cinematic simplicity at its best. It is a good old fashioned piece of entertainment that effectively establishes a simple and specific situation and then spins an absorbing yarn around it. Throw in several great William Holden moments and you have got yourself a winner of a film.

    After a failed escape from the prison camp designated Stalag 17, the imprisoned soldiers start to suspect Sergeant J.J. Sefton (William Holden) of being a snitch. Sefton's reputation as an antisocial cynic certainly has not endeared him to his barrack-mates and they have no qualms over dishing out their own brand of justice on him. Sefton's guilt or innocence is eventually determined shortly before a crucial attempt to smuggle Lieutenant James Dunbar (Don Taylor) out of the prison camp is scheduled to begin.

    "Stalag 17" does not have the complex discourse of "Sunset Boulevard" (1950) or the belly-laughs of "Some Like It Hot" (1959) but it is still a notable entry on Billy Wilder's directorial resume. His ability to fuse drama and black comedy results in a prison camp tale that holds up better than all of the best episodes of "Hogan's Heroes" combined. Holden is splendid in his Oscar-winning performance. Watching him here reminds you of just how fine an actor he was and why he is still remembered fondly as one of the legends of the silver screen. The fact that "Stalag 17" is as fresh and absorbing today as it was when it first came out is a testament to both Wilder and Holden and their ability to make truly timeless films.
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  • Stallag 17
    Im not gonna write the whole plot to the movie in my review, What i will tell you is this movie is timeless, even though it was filmed in 53 it dosn't have that old movie feel to it, you don't have to force your self through it.
    if you like comedy or your a war movie buff, buy this and i promise you will not regret it....more info
  • Another great Billy Wilder film. So what else is new?
    Stalag 17 (Billy Wilder, 1953)

    Billy Wilder was a great director no matter what decade you look at, but there's no argument that he was in his directorial prime during the fifties. He started out the decade with three of his greatest films-- universally acclaimed noir masterpiece Sunset Blvd., the underrated (but recently rediscovered) cynical drama Ace in the Hole, and then-- a comedy about a prison camp? Yep. Stalag 17 hit theaters in 1953, nine years after the fictional events of the movie took place. One would think that a little too close to history, but it worked; the film was nominated for three Oscars (William Holden, who won for Best Actor; Best Director; and Robert Strauss, who got robbed for Best Supporting Actor) and was, for its time, a box office smash, clearing ten million in 1950s dinero. (Remember, you could see a double feature for a quarter back then.)

    In case you never saw Hogan's Heroes (which, actually, was not based on the film; Paramount sued the creators of Hogan's for copyright defamation and lost), the plot: a barracks full of sergeants at the German prison camp Stalag 17 have a mole in their midst. Everyone thinks it's Sefton (Holden). Except Sefton, that is, who's trying to figure out who the real mole is. Things get more immediate when a Lieutenant (Don Taylor) is captured and brought in.

    While it's hard to deny that Holden and Strauss, who plays the lovable lug Animal, steal the show, this is a great ensemble cast, including director Otto Preminger as the head of the camp and, among others, the great Neville Brand as one of the other sergeants. (I am rapidly becoming convinced that Neville Brand was America's most underrated actor between WW2 and Vietnam.) There are a few false notes (it's pretty obvious Taylor was mandated by the studio, one of the many clashes between Paramount and Wilder over this film that caused him to head for fairer shores soon after its completion), but not many-- impressive in a movie where so many cast members are given so much screen time. Wilder's comic sense comes through here perhaps better than in any other film he made, ranging from the outlandish to the subtle, touches here and there that add to the film's overall air of affability. It is this air that makes the moments of suspense work as well as they do.

    A thoroughly satisfying movie in every respect. Well worth the time. ****
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  • 3 stars out of 4
    The Bottom Line:

    Stalag 17 is comprised of two movies--a forgettable slapstick-happy forerunner to Hogan's Heroes and a terrifically cynical, hard-edged POW drama--wrestling for control; Wilder would have done better to focus on the latter, but the finished product is still worth a look....more info
  • thumbs up
    I love this movie....it's humorous, entertaining, dramatic, and a history lesson all in one. Keeps you watching every minute. And William Holden is a bonus in it all. Def. worth the price of the movie and the time invested to watch it--several times!...more info
  • One of the two best WW II Prison camp movies..
    Stalag 17, the inspiration for Hogan's heroes, is a great adaptation of a stage play. Not quite as good as The Great Escape, a definite step up from Von Ryan's Express. The cast is strong, and William Holden is perfect in the role of the cynical sergeant who knows something's amiss in the sergeant's barracks of Stalag 17. I also feel like the movie captures some of the essentially mundane aspects of military life very well. Recommended to any WW II fan....more info
  • Devastating Solitude in a Crowded Barrack.
    Billy Wilder was very versatile and successful as film director and screenplay writer. In both capacities he won the Oscar award more than once.
    No matter what film genre he tried, he delivered a remarkable opus. He had filmed many outstanding comedies as "The 7th Year Itch" (1955), "Some Like It Hot" (1959) and "The Apartment" (1961); also deep human drama as "Sunset Blvd" (1951) or "Ace in the Hole" (1952). Almost all of them were big box office hit at their release.
    Here, with equal success, he tries his hand with a very different stuff: a WWII German POW camp.

    The story plot is as follows: at "Stalag 17" (1953) an escape is cooking on. When the flight is on its course a cynical inmate bets against their success.
    The adventure ends badly for the escapees and distrust among the prisoners arises.
    A new couple of captives are brought in and again "someone" hint the Germans with their secret.
    Sgt. Sefton (the cynical gambler) is accused of being the traitor and subject to harsh retaliation.
    From this point on Sefton focuses on finding the true spy and redeem himself.

    It puzzles me how these cynical hardboiled characters appear time and again in prisoners camps. From the top of my head I can recall at least two of them: the main character of Clavell's "King Rat" and Basie in Ballard's "Empire of the Sun". They are despised, envied or loved by their inmates; but most of all they are needed. Some way or the other they find something to do (and profit from it no doubt) and at the same time give the captives some sense for life or at least some ease.
    In this movie the Rat Races or the Peeping Telescope are a clear example of what I'm saying.

    William Holden as Sefton is impeccable. He won the Oscar fleshing a character that repulse him so much that he intended to reject the project more than once. Fortunately for the public he wasn't able to do it! IMHO Holden characterization is in the line Bogart's Rick.
    Other good acting pieces are delivered by the "clowns" of the barrack Robert Strauss as Animal and Harvey Lembeck as Sugar Lips. This two allows Wilder to introduce some easing into the dread atmosphere of the Stalag.
    Once more I must mention the very good black & white photography delivered by Ernest Laszlo, he was seven times Oscar nominated and one time awarded between 1966 and 1977.

    It is a very good POW's film, not as gorgeous as "The Great Escape" (1963), but deserves to be in any war film fan collection!
    Reviewed by Max Yofre.
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  • Realistic?
    The basic story line was good. However, I think 2 or 3 of the characters were more suited for the old TV series "Hogan's Heroes". It was hard to believe that POWs would act so silly in a real situation. I suspect that 'The Great Escape' was more accurate in depicting how POWs were treated. ...more info
  • Not Wilder's best by a long shot
    I really love some Wilder films; this ain't one of 'em. Stalag 17 is a comedy-drama that loses comedic impact with each over-played dramatic scene, and loses drama with each dumbass joke. There are indeed many good jokes and dramatic scenes, but the weak ones overwhelmed me after a while as I tired of how two-dimensional and moronic most of the characters are.
    Holden saves the film from pure farce with his measured portrayal of the anti-hero capitalist, but even that felt forced and wooden some of the time, along with a number of ham-handed pro-America "messages".
    I wanted to like this, but it's really just another decent WWII flick, raised only by the higher level of awareness that Wilder naturally brought to everything he did. I'd watch most of his other films before this, and can't imagine wanting to see this twice.
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  • Fabulous and unforgettable motion picture!
    The originality of this film still astonishes the new generations. The powerful script turns around an ultra cynical sergeant -William Holden in his lifetime performance - in the middle of a hopeless environment. Hollywood was never better with such mature and questioner film about the drama of the POW. This film among other virtues shows you can build a tense drama interweaved with fine, incisive and sardonic humor that undeniably accented still more the terrible conditions in which they will have to fight to strive for surviving.

    From start to finish, a terrific tour de force film, a colossal masterpiece and one of my top ten favorite Fifties movies.


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  • Fall in Love With William Holden
    This is one of my all-time favorite war-era films and Holden's best. The movie takes place nearly entirely in the barracks of some American POWs in a German WWII prison camp. Stalag 17 focuses like a laser on human nature in brutal circumstances. It showcases the humanity of these young men through their resourcefulness, humor, and character as well as the damaging psychological effects of wartime internment a world away from home. A masterful film everyone should see....more info
  • Blows away any other "great escape" movie!
    Wow. It really stands the test of time. A funny and clever look at the American spirit during WW2. Of course Billy Wilder has plenty of fun along the way, while he captures the feel of an era better than most WW2 flicks. For anyone thinking this is just a 100 minute version of 'Hogan's Heroes' (it did inspire the series) they are missing out on a real gem! Stalag 17 is more than just a witty and intelligent story about a group of American POWs as they maintain their will to escape. (In this regard, I can't help but point out how much more enjoyable this is to something like Papilon-a very good, if overrated movie). The POW camp serves suprisingly well as a microcosm for society as a whole. Stalag 17 is loaded with examples of American ingenuity, capitalism, fairness, leadership, having a sense of family (touching Christmas scene), and above all: having a sense of humor through good times and bad. Share this one with your kids, and perhaps even, your co-workers. Keep on truckin!...more info
  • POW Divide & Conquer:
    Sat. 9 May 09 I feel Stalag # 17 to be one of William Holdens very best films. This movie is equal to his {The Bridge on the River Kwi} movie. Both are classics!!!!! They both tell the tale of military injustice!!!!!!!!!. The great German/Jewish actor Otto Preminger is outstanding as the Commandant!!!!! The DVD shows how the positive attitude of one person {Holden} can change the outcome for everyone concerned for the better.!!!!!! Fellow POWS!!!!! I have always wanted to purchase this great movie & Amazon sold it to me @ a low price. Plz keep your prices low for we retirees!!!!!! $$$$$$$ I want to thank Amazon for great customer service. Best/Wishes Charles, an old retired Veteran in So California....more info
  • Caught this once again during the Memorial Day orgy of
    World War II flicks. It is special & because William Holton stands above the rest. I loved Steve McQueen & James Garner in The Great Escape & The Bridge over the River Kwai, also starring Holton, is epic. This movie is on a much smaller scale & is the best of the POW genre. Holton plays the disreputable Sgt. Sefton, a prisoner throughly despised & suspected of being the traitor in the POW camp responsible for escapees being caught & shot. How he singlehandedly reveals the Nazi in their midst is the movie's climax. Shot in glorious black & white adds to its gritty, realistic feel. I get caught up in it every time. It's on cable often, rent it or buy it cheap, here. Classic cinema from the 50's....more info
  • Pointing fingers in the wrong direction
    Billy Wilder directed this P.O.W. comedy/drama about the danger of jumping to conclusions. A group of American enlisted men spend their time trying to escape from the prison camp they're in or listening to broadcasts on a smuggled radio, only amongst them there appears to be an informer. William Holden, who never seems to mesh with the others and looks out only for himself, is the suspected louse, but of course it turns out to be someone else.

    The movie is excellent; Holden plays his part all the way - even after the real informer is exposed he refuses to become one of the boys. This is an excellent directorial decision and one that must have been tough to abide. But it would have been false to have him change; people just aren't like that. The comedic interludes are sometimes a bit corny, and we're glad when they end so the drama can continue. Holden won an Academy Award. Definitely worth a watch....more info
  • Very good but still faulty movie
    Sig Ruman (almost 70) really is too old for Schultz, the guard of the barracks. Schultz is made a little too sympathetic at times in this film (like when he shows concern for a beaten up Septin). The German Army should be more hateful in the film. The women near the camp could have had a better role too. Very good cast and story outside of these few problems....more info
  • Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
    "Did they beat you?" asked the Red Cross Man.
    "I was playing Pinochle," Sefton replied. "It's a rough game."
    ESSENTIAL MOVIE!!! Stalag 17 stars William Holden & is directed by the great Billy Wilder (nominated for Best Director), who also produced & co-wrote the script. Nominated for three Academy Awards & winner of one, Stalag 17 tells the gripping story of a P.O.W. camp during late WWII. Though a drama, Stalag 17 offers many comedic moments that out does many so called comedies.

    Sefton (William Holden, winner of the Best Actor Academy Award) is a hustler extraordinaire, trading with the Germans for special favors. He's one of the most unpopular men (& a very unsympathetic character, no less) in Stalag 17. Everything has an angle & the bottom line is his profit. This so rules his life that only Cookie (Gil Stratton) will tolerate him. Cookie is Sefton's assistant & lackey in his profit making schemes.

    Stalag 17 is full of dynamic characters. Col. Von Scherbach (Otto Preminger) is the camp kommandant, ruthless & uncaring. His scenes are some of the highlights of the movie. His acting (remember, he was really a director) is so over the top that they become quite humorous. The scene where he is addressing the prisoners in the compound is classic, he eases his coat open with his arms, places his arms on his hips, all the while condescending. The scene where he calls his superiors in Berlin is classi, also. He's in full uniform except for his boots, pacing in white socks, finally, he sits, his servant assists him in putting on his jack-boots, he places the call to Berlin, clicks his heels together multiple times during the call, then when the call is completed Von Scherbach has his servant remove the boots. Classic Billy Wilder!

    The show stealer is Animal (Robert Strauss, nominated for Best Supporting Actor), a not-too-bright sergeant who's not very good looking either. He has a crush on Betty Grable that figures prominently in a scene later in the movie. Harry Shapiro (Harvey Lembeck) is his buddy, their scenes are some of the funniest in the movie. Near the end, when the Betty Grable angle comes in, has Animal & Shapiro dancing together (along with all the other men in the barracks), Animal is confessing his love to Shapiro, who Animal thinks is Grable. This was a very daring scene for 1950, a scene that Hollywood censors did not want in the movie.

    Hoffy (Richard Erdman) is the barracks chief for the Americans. Erdman had done mostly comedies up to this point in his career, this is a rare "straight" role for him.

    The story is basically this: Sefton is the hustler & trades too much with the Germans, the P.O.W.s don't like him. An escape attempt is made by two Americans & they are shot outside the compound. There's a stoolie in the barracks but no one knows who, since Sefton is so despicable he's the one that gets blamed. Of course they're wrong. In one of Hollywood's best scenes of retribution Sefton comes out on top & becomes a hero, albeit an unsavory one.

    The film has Neville Brand (Duke), Don Taylor (Lt. Dunbar), Peter Graves (Price, a pivotal role) & Sig Rugman as Sgt. Schulz (might have been Rugman's best role). If some of this sounds familiar it's very possible, the television sitcom, Hogan's Heroes, was based on this movie.

    The film is beautifully restored & there are bonus features; "Stalag 17: From Reality to Screen" & "The Real Heroes of Stalag XVIIB". The latter has interviews with veterans that had been imprisoned at Stalag 17. It's a very moving featurette. There's also a commentary soundtrack in the film, photo gallery * movie trailer. This is one of Hollywood's greatest efforts....more info