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Stalag 17

William Holden , Don Taylor , Billy Wilder    DVD
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
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Stalag 17 + The Bridge on the River Kwai (Bilingual)
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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

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I know he won an Oscar for his performance in this role, but has any great Hollywood star been shunted to the background of history as much as William Holden? The list of films in which the man made his character memorable runs the gamut from Sunset Boulevard to Picnic to The Wild Bunch to Network. And while I don't think it's his overall best role, Stalag 17 will be remembered not just as a great film but the one that got Holden his due.
As the opening voiceover says (and I'm paraphrasing), there have been a lot of war movies about submarines, flying leathernecks, tank commandos, etc. but none about the P.O.W. camps. Leave it to the late great Billy Wilder to rectify that. Certainly there's no glory of war here, or at least not the kind we're accustomed to. Wilder creates an insular world of desperate and downtrodden men thrown together in confinement and heaps on the stark reality of war's "other side".
Holden is the barracks' con man/horse trader and, thanks to the already poor relationship with his fellows, the immediate suspect when they determine someone on the inside is spying on them for the Germans. It's a testament to how well the film has held up over the years that even after seeing it long ago (and thus knowing who the spy is) that I was still riveted in anticipation of how he would be found out.
The Germans are a combination of menace and comedy, the former exemplified by Otto Preminger as the camp commander and the latter by the great character actor Sig Rumann as Sgt. Schulz. This film was the inspiration for Hogan's Heroes, but it's best to separate them in your mind if you can and appreciate the complexities of the situations and the characters.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format:VHS Tape
World War II flicks. It is special & because of 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 grittiness 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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
STALAG 17 was the film that revitalized Billy Wilder's career. His previous film, the highly underrated ACE IN THE HOLE (easily one of the most cynical movies ever to come out of Hollywood), was a bust at the box office. As a result, Paramount, the studio Wilder had worked for since breaking into the business as a writer in the 1930s, inserted a demand in his contract that he pay for any losses should this film fail at the box office. As it was, it was a smash both critically and financially. Wilder left Paramount in anger after finishing it.
This was the first of the great prison camp movies to be made in the U.S., and arguably the best ever made. The story revolves around the attempt to discover which soldier in the camp is a stoolie for the Germans. Suspicion falls upon the profoundly and justifiably hated Sgt. Sefton, played by William Holden in a performance that gained him an Oscar (his acceptance speech was the shortest in the history of the awards: "Thank you"). Gradually all the soldiers turn against him, but in the end he is able to prove who the real fink is. Not an especially great plot, but the setting was completely unique at the time, and Wilder does a great job of building the suspense over who the real informant is.
The all-male cast (tough to talk the studio into at the time, since studio heads were convinced you had to have love interests in the film to interest both sexes) is memorable, filled with a bevy of great character performances. A couple of the performers are a bit on the annoying side, especially as they try to strike a note of gaiety despite their confinement, but by and large the cast is rock solid.
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Format:VHS Tape
Studio: Paramount Studio
Video Release Date: August 21, 2001
William Holden ... Sgt. J.J. Sefton
Don Taylor ... Lt. James Skylar Dunbar
Otto Preminger ... Col. von Scherbach
Robert Strauss ... Stanislas 'Animal' Kasava
Harvey Lembeck ... Harry 'Sugar Lips' Shapiro
Richard Erdman ... Hoffy (chief, barracks #4)
Peter Graves ... Price (security)
Neville Brand ... Duke
Sig Ruman ... Sgt. Johann Sebastian Schulz
Michael Moore ... Manfredi
Peter Baldwin ... Johnson
Robinson Stone ... Joey (ocarina player)
Robert Shawley ... Blondie Peterson
William Pierson ... Marko the Mailman (At Ease)
Gil Stratton ... Clarence Harvey 'Cookie' Cook (Narrator)
Jay Lawrence ... Bagradian (cohort of Dunbar)
Erwin Kalser ... Geneva man
Edmund Trzcinski ... Triz' Trzcinski ('I believe it!')
James Dabney Jr. ... Bit part
Carl Forcht ... German lieutenant
Ralph Gaston ... Bit part
Jerry Gerber ... Bit part
Ross Gould ... Von Scherbach's orderly
Russell Grower ... Bit part
Ross Bagdasarian ... Singing soldier
Peter Leeds ... Barracks #1 POW getting distillery
Wesley Ling ... POW
Harald Maresch ... German lieutenant
Bill McLean ... POW
John Mitchum ... POW
Robin Morse ... POW
William Mulcahy ... Bit part
Rodric Beckham ... Bit part
Richard P. Beedle ... POW
Joe Ploski ... German guard-volleyball player
Harry Reardon ... POW
Paul Salata ... Prisoner with beard
James R. Scott ... Bit part
Bill Sheehan ... POW
A. Gerald Singer ... Steve (the crutch)
Warren Sortomme ... POW
Herbert Street ... Bit part
Anthony M. Taylor ... Bit part
Bob Templeton ... Prisoner with beard
John Veitch ...
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars It passes time.
William Holden does a pretty good job or portraying a prisoner in a stalag during World War II.

Unlike the TV program "Hogan's Heroes" this movie is more serious yet it... Read more
Published on Sept. 26 2010 by bernie
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of product
I received this item in good time and in good condition. If there are any othee items that I need from this person, I would not hesitate to order. Thank you
Published on July 23 2010 by Robert W. Johnson
5.0 out of 5 stars Holden's best
I can't even think of words to describe how much I love this film; it's one of those rarities that combine suspense with humor in a way that is incredibly rare in films, and when... Read more
Published on May 26 2004 by chrisbean
5.0 out of 5 stars Quasi-realism and burlesque: a comedic drama
There was surprisingly enough a lot of humor in the American attitude toward the Nazis and the Germans during World War II. Read more
Published on Feb. 7 2004 by Dennis Littrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic WWII POW adventure/drama
Stalag 17 is an excellent war movie that belongs with The Great Escape and Bridge over the River Kwai as one of the best POW movies ever made. Read more
Published on Jan. 17 2004 by T O'Brien
5.0 out of 5 stars A great escape
The perfect blend of comedy, drama and mystery. The horrors of war are protrayed in the eyes of a group of US Sgts. in a POW camp who have a traitor in their midst. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 2003 by Peter Ingemi
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Comedy-Drama Comes To DVD
Although the play by Edmund Trzcinski and Donald Bevan had been a smash hit on Broadway, most insiders did not expect STALAG 17 to succeed as a film. Read more
Published on Oct. 5 2003 by Gary F. Taylor
4.0 out of 5 stars smart scenario, great cast...
I watched that movie on tv and i think it is great! The cast is great, they play perfect. Scenario is great, it is simple and smartly written. Read more
Published on July 3 2003 by gmumcu@superonline.com
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent POW drama!
Stalag 17 is a prison camp during World War II in Nazi-Germany. This story takes place during the weeks close to Christmas where the Allied prisoners seem to have an informer... Read more
Published on Jan. 12 2003 by Kim Anehall
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