Stalag 17 (1953)

Stalag 17 (1953)

A film produced and directed by Billy Wilder who also co-wrote the screenplay with Edwin Blum that was based on the play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski; it’s an essential war drama that earned William Holden (Sunset Blvd. (1950) also co-written and directed by Wilder) his Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role on his second of three such Oscar nominations. Director Wilder was also nominated as was Supporting Actor Robert Strauss his only Oscar nomination. The story takes place in a German P.O.W. camp during World War II one from which none of the American airmen there have been able to escape. Therefore it is suspected that a spy is in their midst. Sefton (Holden) is the stereotypical wheeler dealer who always seems to have what the other men need to trade for because he also trades with the guards like Sergeant Schulz (which isn’t the only similarity between this movie and the later TV sitcom series Hogan’s Heroes) played by Sig Ruman who works for the camp’s commandant Colonel von Scherbach (Otto Preminger). Therefore he’s a prime suspect among the other prisoners which include Stanislas Kasava aka ‘Animal’ (Strauss) and Harry (Harvey Lembeck whose characters provides comic relief) Price (Peter Graves) Duke (Neville Brand) and others. When Lieutenant Dunbar (Don Taylor) is added to the mix things get even more tense as the pressure to find expose catch and/or kill the spy becomes especially imperative; they need to help Dunbar escape before he’s executed for sabotage.

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