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Stalag 17 (1953)


Average Rating: 8.3/10
Reviews Counted: 31
Fresh: 30
Rotten: 1

Critics Consensus: Stalag 17 survives the jump from stage to screen with flying colors, thanks to Billy Wilder's typically sterling direction and a darkly funny script.

Average Rating: 7.7/10
Reviews Counted: 8
Fresh: 8
Rotten: 0

Critics Consensus: Stalag 17 survives the jump from stage to screen with flying colors, thanks to Billy Wilder's typically sterling direction and a darkly funny script.


Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 12,829



Movie Info

The scene is a German POW camp, sometime during the mid-1940s. Stalag 17, exclusively populated by American sergeants, is overseen by sadistic commandant Oberst Von Schernbach (Otto Preminger) and the deceptively avuncular sergeant Schultz (Sig Ruman). The inmates spend their waking hours circumventing the boredom of prison life; at night, they attempt to arrange escapes. When two of the escapees, Johnson and Manfredi, are shot down like dogs by the Nazi guards, Stalag 17's resident wiseguy … More

Drama , Action & Adventure , Classics , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Billy Wilder , Edwin Blum
In Theaters:
Dec 14, 1999
Paramount Home Video


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Critic Reviews for Stalag 17

All Critics (31) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (30) | Rotten (1) | DVD (12)

As rowdily entertaining on the screen as it was on the stage.

Full Review… | December 5, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

The resulting letdown is terrific, but along the way there is some of the funniest men-at-loose-ends interplay that Wilder has ever put on film.

Full Review… | August 14, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

One could make an argument that, among 20th century directors, few were more versatile than Billy Wilder.

Full Review… | August 14, 2007
Top Critic

A lusty comedy-melodrama, loaded with bold, masculine humor and as much of the original's uninhibited earthiness as good taste and the Production Code permit.

Full Review… | August 14, 2007
Top Critic

The good greatly outweighs the bad, particularly in the profile of Holden's character, a pragmatic, self-centered cynic whose heroism, when it is finally called upon, appears to come from deep within the barriers he has placed inside of himself.

May 13, 2006
Hollywood Reporter
Top Critic

In the end, Stalag 17's irreverence likely didn't revolutionize moviemaking for adults so much as it paved the way for the likes of M*A*S*H and Animal House. Then again, that alone is an achievement worth celebrating.

Full Review… | April 1, 2006
AV Club
Top Critic

Director Billy Wilder superbly balances elements of drama, satire and comedy, and captures the claustrophobia of camp life.

Full Review… | December 6, 2013
Radio Times

William Holden won his first and only Best Actor Oscar for Billy Wilder's vastly entertaining serio comedy set in a POW camp.

Full Review… | May 4, 2012

When escape is the only option, you do whatever you can to make it happen. This is one exciting escape drama.

Full Review… | August 15, 2011
Cinema Sight

Teens may enjoy this exceptional, exciting drama.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

Interesting depiction with a pretty decent performance from Holden and supported by a credible cast.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007
Empire Magazine

A bleak, black comedy in which the laughter can die in the throat.

Full Review… | October 23, 2007

Unforgettable Billy Wilder POW tale with Holden in perhaps his greatest role.

December 8, 2006
Dispatch-Tribune Newspapers

The prison story had an offbeat flavor that was pleasing.

Full Review… | November 11, 2006
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

As with many of Wilder's films, you tend to forget just how funny it is %u2014 the way the master director cuts tension with incisive wit and barely controlled silliness.

Full Review… | July 21, 2006
Arizona Daily Star

Taut drama, a real surprise, considering Wilder directs.

March 30, 2005

Grimly hilarious, subversive and defiant, rough around the edges, and more than a little sad.

Full Review… | February 17, 2005
Decent Films Guide

Unlike previous POW films, Wilder and co-writer Edwin Blum's script, based on the play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, presents the prisoners not as paragons of patriotic virtue but as real, self-interested, bored soldiers trying to survive.

Full Review… | July 30, 2003
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Classic prisoner-of-war flick, powered by Holden's indelible performance

June 7, 2003
Lawrence Journal-World

Audience Reviews for Stalag 17

A comedy thriller set in a POW camp? Only the mighty Billy Wilder could pull off such an idea. As funny as the film is, and it is very funny, it never once takes away how hard the conditions were in the POW camps during the Second World War. It's a bit of an Agatha Christie 'Who done it', with deadpan satire (provided by the great William Holden) with a splash of humour that I can only compare to Robert Altman's MASH, a film that was very obviously inspired by it. The thriller element of the film is handled perfectly, the espionage and hidden messages within the POW camp were fascinating and I still hadn't guessed who the villain was until it was reveled. The performances are wonderful, William Holden is superb but the supporting cast of comedians is where the real strength lies. The Hitler impersonation scene is one of the funniest moments in cinema ever made, it's hard to imagine that some of the actors would have fought in the war and that the war only ended 9 years before the film was released. One of the most intelligent but funny war films of all time.

Anthony Lawrie

Super Reviewer


A group of American POWs discovers that there is an informant in their midst.
Kind of a war movie lite, Stalag 17 is more entertaining than moving and more delightful than most war films typically are. William Holden's characteristic insouciance fits right in, and the rest of the cast basically follows suit. Once one gives in to the film's tone, it becomes worth watching, even if the reveal comes too early, diffusing most of the potential suspense.
Overall, this is a strong, entertaining, genre-defying film, but it's not perfect.

Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer


A spectacular prison camp drama that is not only compelling in regard to its intriguing mystery but also very funny and touching when showing the camaraderie between those prisoners of Barrack 4, with several scenes that make it an unmissable classic.

Carlos Magalh„es

Super Reviewer


When a self-serving operator in a WWII prison camp is suspected of collaboration with the enemy, he is forced to uncover the true culprit. Another of Billy Wilder's cynical classics, there is a lot more humour in the material than you would think. In fact it is often so broad it can resemble an extended episode of Sgt. Bilko, full of fast paced wise-cracking and army camaraderie. It is Holden's character of course that provides the real drama, and he plays it pitch perfectly. Unlike most prisoner of war films that are full of stiff upper lipped heroics, his cynical attitude never wavers and the sharp, witty dialogue makes for some fine black comedy. Easily one of the best examples of the genre.

xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

Stalag 17 Quotes

If I ever run into any of you bums on a street corner, just let's pretend we've never met before.
– Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
How do you expect to win the war with an army of clowns?
Lieutenant Dunbar:
We sort of hope you'd laugh yourselves to death.
– Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
There are two people in this barracks who know I didn't do it. Me and the guy that did do it.
– Submitted by Adam O (8 months ago)
Harry Shapiro:
I'm telling you, these nazis ain't kosher.
"Animal" Stosh:
You can say that again.
Harry Shapiro:
Telling you, these nazis ain't kosher.
"Animal" Stosh:
I said you can say it again, that doesn't mean you have to repeat it!
– Submitted by Joakim A (19 months ago)
Von Scherbach:
Nobody has ever escaped from Stalag 17. Not alive, anyway.
– Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)

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