15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "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...
Published on 12 Dec 2006 by Steven Y.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Supposed life in a POW camp
A little dated but keeps the viewer guessing right to the end. Well acted and entertaining suspense and the quality of the DVD is good
Published 22 months ago by James D. Farmer
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5.0 out of 5 stars an excellent film with a great idea for a plot,
an excellent film with a great idea for a plot, how do the German guards stay one step ahead of the men they are guarding, it's simple they have a spy.
5.0 out of 5 stars Stalag 17.,
A Prisoner of war film with a brilliant cast.
With the main story centered on a Spy in the Compound, with various other going's on.
All in All a film that one does not tire of seeing.
Very highly Recommended.
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent,
I enjoyed the story line and the acting of all the actors namely, Will Holden and et al were excellent
5.0 out of 5 stars satisfaction,
i chose this rating because i was very satisfied with the service,
i would definately look through their other classic film stock,
i highly recommend these people
5.0 out of 5 stars Great acting, great script,
This film has some hilarious moments and William Holden is superb as the moody but misunderstood protagonist. One not to be missed!
5.0 out of 5 stars Stalag 17,
Stalag 17 is a classic movie, I purchased this movie before xmas
The part that William Holden plays is brilliant,And i would highly recommend this
Movie and specially the price its a bargain and i would give it 5 stars
Well done Amazon.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant. Heavy and funny at the same time,
By A Customer
This review is from: Stalag 17 [VHS] (VHS Tape)
This is one of my favourite movies of all time. It was a bit of a surprise to see a movie about the war made so soon after it with a humourous element.
Reccomended for anyone.
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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. Life goes on even under the conditions of being prisoners of war, and people need to laugh. In such circumstances, they especially need to laugh. We can see that in some of the songs from that time and in this play from Donald Bevant and Edmund Trzcinski that Billy Wilder made into an unusually good movie. It should be realized that the full extent of the horror that the Nazis had visited upon Europe was not known until after the war was over and we saw the films of the concentration camps.
William Holden stars as Sgt J.J. Sefton whose amoral cynicism and gift for the cheap hustle allow him to feather his nest even while a prisoner of war. He's the guy who always had a storehouse of cigarettes, booze, silk stockings, candy, etc. under his bunk, the guy who always won at cards, whose proposition bets always gave him the edge. We had a guy like that when I was in the army. We called him "Slick."
But William Holden's Sefton is more than Slick. He is outrageously cynical and uncommonly brave. He takes chances because he doesn't have the same kind of fear that others have. Most people would feel self-conscious (and nervous) eating a fried egg while everybody else in the barracks had watery-thin potato soup. Others might feel uncomfortable with bribing German guards for bottles of Riesling or tins of sardines. Not Sefton. He flaunts his store of goodies.
Perhaps that is overdone. Perhaps the real hardships that prisoners went through are glossed over in this comedic drama--a comedy, incidentally, that plays very much like a Broadway musical without the music. Perhaps it is the case that from the distance of 1953 the deprivations of Stalag 17 have faded from memory and it is the "good times" that are recalled.
At any rate, I think it is this kind of psychology that accounts for the success of this unusual blend of quasi-realism and burlesque. Certainly Stalag 17 has been widely imitated, most familiarly in the TV sit-com "Hogan's Heroes" and to some extent on Rowan and Martin's "Laugh-In." Roberto Benigni's Life Is Beautiful, on the other hand, which also finds humor in the horrific, is of a different genre. Like Ionesco's Rhinoceros, Benigni's movie is from the theater of the absurd, not the Broadway stage.
Holden won an Oscar for his performance and Robert Strauss who played Animal was nominated in a supporting role. Otto Preminger, the legendary director and producer, was excellent as the two-faced Col Von Scherbach, the ex-calvary commander and camp commandant who can only take a phone call from the high command with his boots on so he can click his heels. I also liked Sig Rumann as Sgt Johann Sebastian Schulz ("always making with the jokes, you Americans") whose previous career as a wrestler in the US accounts for his English-language skills. Gil Stratton, who for years did the sports for CBS Channel 2 in Los Angeles, is interesting as Sefton's sidekick and funky. Indeed, what is responsible for the success of this movie as much as anything is this fine cast playing well-defined character roles. By the way, Strauss and Harvey Lembeck ("Sugar Lips" Shapiro) were reprising their roles from Broadway.
Important is the fine plot line in which Sefton is accused of being a spy for the Nazis while the real spy is exposed step by step. At first we don't know who it is, and then we do, and then the prisoners find out.
This should be compared with Sunset Boulevard (1950). While very different movies they have similar elements which reveal part of the psyche and methods of director Billy Wilder. First there is the anti-hero as the protagonist, in both cases played by William Holden. Then there is a lot of the old Hollywood crowd appearing in both films including directors appearing as actors, Erich von Stroheim (not to mention Cecil B. DeMille in his memorable cameo as himself) in Sunset Boulevard, and Otto Preminger here. Sig Rumann has over a 100 credits going back to at least the early thirties. Finally there is the discordant mix of comedic and dramatic elements, a mix that works on our psyches because life is to some very real extent filled with tragedy in close congruence with the laughable.
But see this for William Holden who was the kind of actor who was best playing a compromised character as here and as the failed writer/reluctant gigolo in Sunset Boulevard, an actor who drank too much and tended to undistinguished, but when carefully directed could rise above his intentions and give a sterling performance.
6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
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. The story concerned WWII American POWs held in a Nazi camp--but it combined serious drama with broad farce and offered one of the first anti-heroes in American film in the leading role. And with the war still very fresh in every one's mind, the combination seemed more likely to offend than appeal. Every one concerned held their breath when the film debuted: would audiences get it? They did indeed, and STALAG 17 became one of the most critically-lauded and commercially popular films of the early 1950s, picking up an Academy Award nomination for director Billy Wilder and a Best Actor Oscar for William Holden in the process.
The story concerns American prisoners of war held in the German "Stalag 17" in 1944, and it begins grimly: after much planning, the Americans have devised an escape for two of their number, but the next morning the bullet-riddled bodies of the two men are dragged into camp and dumped in the mud. But the escape plan should have worked. It was perfect. How did the Germans know? Suspicion begins to settle on J.J. Sefton (Holden), a bitter cynic and hardbitten opportunist who spends his time running various scams designed to strip his fellow prisoners of what little they have.
While this might have worked as drama pure and simple, the film counterbalances its darkness with streaks of a sort of "boys will be boys" broad farce played out in the most over-the-top way imaginable. And strange to say, even given the overplaying typical of the early 1950s, the balance works: for every dramatic twist there is a stroke of comedy, and for every stroke of comedy there is a dramatic twist. In Wilder's hands the ensemble cast, which includes the likes of Otto Preminger and Peter Graves, performs some of the most remarkable juggling of the decade.
But the glue here is William Holden. Interestingly, according to most sources Holden hated the play and hated the character and did the project under duress. Whatever the case, he gives a truly remarkable performance: Sefton is not a likable man by any stretch of the imagination, but even so he has certain self-integrity that you cannot help but admire. While Holden is now probably best remembered for his performances in SUNSET BLVD and NETWORK, his work here is likely the finest of his entire career.
There has been some complaint that STALAG 17 is disrespectful to WWII prisoners of war, for it paints their Nazi captors as buffoons and camp conditions as not so much horrific as merely unpleasant--and it is true that the film makes no serious portray the extreme difficulties most POWs encountered. But to say that it is disrespectful to POWs is akin to saying that 42nd STREET is disrespectful to chorus girls: we know, just as 1953 audiences knew, that this is not an attempt to portray reality; it is instead a story told via our willing suspension of disbelief--and a very entertaining story it is indeed.
The DVD is truly a "no frills" product, but the print is crisp. And if you are expecting a realistic examination of men at war you may be disappointed. But still, this is a memorable film, directed with great skill, performed by an exceptional cast, and with a sharp story and clever script. It bears repeat viewing extremely well--which is a great deal more than one can say for most films made. Recommended.
--GFT (Amazon Reviewer)--
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars,
Very Happy with DVD and the prompt delivery which was in excellent condition as advertised.
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Stalag 17 [Blu-ray]  [US Import] by William Holden (Blu-ray - 2013)