One night in 1944 in a German POW camp housing American airmen, two prisoners try to escape the compound and are quickly discovered and shot dead. Among the remaining men, suspicion grows that one of their own is a spy for the Germans. All eyes fall on Sgt. Sefton (William Holden) who everybody knows frequently makes exchanges with German guards for small luxuries. To protect himself from a mob of his enraged fellow inmates, Sgt. Sefton resolves to find the true traitor within their midst.
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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Audio: English AC3 2.0 @ 192 Kbps + Commentary track | Subs: English (embedded)
Genre: Drama, War | Director: Billy Wilder