Published on June 3rd, 2007 | by Chris3
Stalag 17 (1953)
If the environment of Stalag 17 looks vaguely familiar, its because it was the inspiration for the television series "Hogan's Heroes," the irreverent adventures of a group of Allied POW's held by the Germans in World War II. Based on Billy Wilder's Play of the same name, it gained William Holden an Oscar for his part.
The story goes something like this: After a pair of would-be escapees are shot, it's deduced that there is a snitch, a "stoolie" in the inmate's midst. The remainder of the film involves the wrongful accusation and punishment of one inmate, Sefton (William Holden), and more generally the hijinks of the others, most notably the two clowns, "Animal" (Robert Strauss) and Shapiro (Harvey Lembeck.) Also starring is Otto Preminger as the Camp Commandant, a very young Peter Graves as "Security" Price, and Sig Ruman as the stereotypical "Schuuullllz!!!"
The identity of the "stoolie" is finally revealed, and a swift and just punishment is dealt, as the redeemed Sefton uses the opportunity to escape with the recently arrived pilot, Lt. Dunbar (Don Taylor.)
The film is a strangely funny yet dark and introspective look into the lives of one barracks' inmates. It's funny in a kind of way where you laugh, and then stop yourself and wonder if you really should be laughing. "The Great Escape" a few years later would visit this territory again, but it at least provides a bit more serious counterpoint where its needed. I suppose you could look at it in a "microcosm" sort of way, if you think about it.
Don't get me wrong, once you surrender yourself to the humor, it really is funny. But damn is it uncomfortable. Knowing that somewhere there were guys who actually went through this, and knowing that they weren't laughing one bit. I can't even begin to imagine what that situation was *actually* like, and your mind keeps going there. Not to mention some very, well, awkward moments between Animal and Shapiro....
Honestly I hadn't done my homework going in, and really all I knew was it was about a group of POW's in a Nazi prison camp. Little did I realize!
Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)
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Two worthy Academy Award® nominees from 1950's Sunset Boulevard – actor William Holden and director Billy Wilder – reteamed three years later for the gripping World War II drama, Stalag 17. The result was another Best Director nomination for Wilder (his fourth), and the elusive Best Actor Oscar® for Holden...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Original Release Date:
- William Holden
- Don Taylor
- Otto Preminger
- Robert Strauss
- Harvey Lembeck
Summary: once you surrender yourself to the humor, it really is funny. But damn is it uncomfortable. Knowing that somewhere there were guys who actually went through this, and knowing that they weren't laughing one bit.