Stalag 17

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.

97%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 36

93%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 13,201

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Movie Info

One night in 1944 in a German POW camp housing American airmen, two prisoners try to escape the compound and are quickly discovered and shot dead. Among the remaining men, suspicion grows that one of their own is a spy for the Germans. All eyes fall on Sgt. Sefton (William Holden) who everybody knows frequently makes exchanges with German guards for small luxuries. To protect himself from a mob of his enraged fellow inmates, Sgt. Sefton resolves to find the true traitor within their midst.

Cast & Crew

William Holden
Sgt. J.J. Sefton
Otto Preminger
Col. von Scherbach
Robert Strauss
Stanislas "Animal" Kasava
Don Taylor
Lt. James Skylar Dunbar
Harvey Lembeck
Harry "Sugar Lips" Shapiro
Sig Ruman
Sgt. Johann Sebastian Schulz
Michael Moore
Manfredi
Donald Bevan
Writer
Edmund Trzcinski
Writer
Franz Waxman
Original Music
Leonid Raab
Original Music
Ernest Laszlo
Cinematographer
George Tomasini
Film Editor
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Critic Reviews for Stalag 17

All Critics (36) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (35) | Rotten (1)

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

    December 5, 2008 | Full Review…
    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.

    August 14, 2007 | Full Review…
  • One could make an argument that, among 20th century directors, few were more versatile than Billy Wilder.

    August 14, 2007 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…
  • 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…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    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
  • 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…

    Noel Murray

    AV Club
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Stalag 17

  • Sep 29, 2016
    There's probably a version of this movie that's an unrelenting pressure cooker but Wilder's trademark wit takes the movie down a more interesting and entertaining path. Holden's performance is perfection.
    Alec B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 05, 2015
    There is some good period comedy and loads of fun interplay to be had here, but the proceedings are anchored by an outstanding performance from William Holden. Where the film suffers is in its repetitive cuts to the film's comedic relief duo, and a mostly useless narration. The direction and cinematography are also skillful and adept. I wouldn't consider this a must watch for newer audiences, though the film is quite good if not a little long for its simplistic story.
    Paris S Super Reviewer
  • May 21, 2014
    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 H Super Reviewer
  • Apr 07, 2014
    Another great performance by the underrated William Holden bolsters this POW film that finds the elusive mix between dark comedy and serious drama.
    John B Super Reviewer

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