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Stalag 17 (1953)



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

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
Critic Reviews: 8
Fresh: 8 | Rotten: 0

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.



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Average Rating: 4.1/5
User Ratings: 12,819

My Rating

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

Dec 14, 1999

Paramount Home Video

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

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

December 5, 2008 Full Review Source: TIME Magazine
TIME Magazine
Top Critic IconTop 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.

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: ReelViews
Top Critic IconTop 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.

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop 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 IconTop 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.

April 1, 2006 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club
Top Critic IconTop Critic

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

December 6, 2013 Full Review Source: Radio Times
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.

May 4, 2012 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

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

August 15, 2011 Full Review Source: Cinema Sight
Cinema Sight

Teens may enjoy this exceptional, exciting drama.

December 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comment (1)
Common Sense Media

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

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

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

October 23, 2007 Full Review Source: Film4

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.

November 11, 2006 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
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.

July 21, 2006 Full Review Source: Arizona Daily Star
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.

February 17, 2005 Full Review Source: Decent Films Guide
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.

July 30, 2003 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
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.
July 22, 2014

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.
May 21, 2014
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.
September 27, 2013

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.
March 29, 2013
xGary Xx

Super Reviewer

    1. Sefton: 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 (7 months ago)
    1. Schulz: How do you expect to win the war with an army of clowns?
    2. Lieutenant Dunbar: We sort of hope you'd laugh yourselves to death.
    – Submitted by Adam O (7 months ago)
    1. Sefton: 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 (7 months ago)
    1. Harry Shapiro: I'm telling you, these nazis ain't kosher.
    2. "Animal" Stosh: You can say that again.
    3. Harry Shapiro: Telling you, these nazis ain't kosher.
    4. "Animal" Stosh: I said you can say it again, that doesn't mean you have to repeat it!
    – Submitted by Joakim A (18 months ago)
    1. Von Scherbach: Nobody has ever escaped from Stalag 17. Not alive, anyway.
    – Submitted by Chris P (3 years ago)
View all quotes (5)

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