Monday, August 19, 2013

Stalag 17 (1953)

Director: Billy Wilder

Starring: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck, Richard Erdman, Peter Graves, Neville Brand, Sig Ruman, Michael Moore, Peter Baldwin, Robinson Stone, Robert Shawley, William Pierson, Gil Stratton, Jay Lawrence, Erwin Kalser, Edmund Trzcinski

More info: IMDb

Tagline: These G.I.s are doing their best to outsmart the Nazis and plan a Christmas Eve escape.  There's only one of them is a German spy.

Plot: No one has ever escaped from Stalag 17, a POW camp for American airmen near the Danube. Maybe that's because there's a spy in barracks four. The German guards seem to know everything that's happening before it happens. Most of the American POWs suspect Sergeant J.J. Sefton, whose wheeling-and-dealing rates him special privileges from the camp guards. When Lieutenant Dunbar arrives at the prison camp, and is accused of blowing up an ammunition train, the American prisoners must expose the stoolie before he informs the Germans where Dunbar is hiding, AND get Dunbar out of the "inescapable" camp before the SS arrives to take him into custody.

My rating: 10/10

Will I watch it again? Yes.

This flick is insanely good.  I've seen it close to twenty times since I was a kid and it never gets old.  Billy Wilder crafted a picture filled with drama, comedy and suspense that all work so well together.  The performances are fantastic.  I don't know who Holden was up against for the Best Actor Oscar but I'm willing to be he deserved that award.  He's terrific.  I love that the camera doesn't blink.  The actors get opportunities with some A-1 dialogue to really show their chops.  The humor works perfectly for me.  I love these characters so much that it's not over the top, it's who they are and they're doing what they can to deal with captivity.  I'm speaking of course of Harry (Lembeck) and Animal (Strauss) (both reprising their roles from the play).  It's a perfect storm of story, direction and acting. The tunes and Franz Waxman's score are fun and effective. And the ending is spot on.  I can't think of a better WWII POW flick than this one. 

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