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Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition) (1952)

William Holden , Don Taylor , Billy Wilder  |  NR |  DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)

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Stalag 17 (1953) Stalag 17 (1953) 4.8 out of 5 stars (234)
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Product Details

  • Actors: William Holden, Don Taylor, Otto Preminger, Robert Strauss, Harvey Lembeck
  • Directors: Billy Wilder
  • Writers: Billy Wilder, Donald Bevan, Edmund Trzcinski, Edwin Blum
  • Producers: Billy Wilder, William Schorr
  • Format: Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), French (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: March 21, 2006
  • Run Time: 120 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (234 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000CNESN0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,455 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Stalag 17 (Special Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • Commentary by actors Richard Erdman and Gil Stratton and co-playwright Donald Bevan
  • Stalag 17: From Reality to Screen featurette
  • The Real Heroes of Stalag XVIIB featurette
  • Photo Gallery
  • Restored Mono soundtrack

Editorial Reviews

Two worthy Academy Award® nominees from 1950's Sunset Boulevard – actor William Holden and director Billy Wilder – reteamed three years later for the gripping World War II drama, Stalag 17. The result was another Best Director nomination for Wilder (his fourth), and the elusive Best Actor Oscar® for Holden. Holden portrays the jaded, scheming Sergeant J.J. Sefton, a prisoner at the notorious German prison camp, who spends his days dreaming up rackets and trading with the Germans for special privileges. But when two prisoners are killed in an escape attempt, it becomes obvious that there is a spy among the prisoners. Is it Sefton? Famed producer/director Otto Preminger tackles a rare acting role as the camp's commandant; actor Robert Strauss won a Supporting Actor nomination for his role as "Animal." Here's Wilder's powerful, acclaimed film classic -- now packed with never-before-seen special features, including audio commentary and "behind-the-scenes" featurettes.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
86 of 89 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars William Holden's finest performance...... November 22, 2000
Format:DVD
Quite easily a front runner for the title of best POW movie ever made, "Stalag 17" is expertly directed by Billy Wilder to provide humour, drama, satire and sadness....and William Holden in his Oscar winning performance as the cynical POW sergeant, Sefton, makes this movie a class act from start to finish !

American POW's under the watchful eye of camp commander Von Scherbach (Otto Preminger at his sinister best) are suspicious of a traitor in their ranks...escape plans are going horribly wrong...lives are being lost....and the finger of guilt point's to the crafty, opportunistic Sefton. William Holden was well deserving of the 1953 Best Actor Oscar as the somewhat unlikeable and moody Sefton. Taking advantage of his fellow POW's and filling his footlocker with contrband purchased from the income off his "racetrack", "moonshine" and "telescope" rackets, Sefton then suddenly finding himself the victim of circumstance and his own cynical nature. Holden took on a particularly difficult role, as Sefton is definitely not what you would call a likeable character...only looking out for his own welfare, negative of his fellow prisoners escape attempts and eager to pick up an extra dollar any way he can from other prisoners. The character of Sergeant Sefton is arguably one of the first anti-hero's of film drama. Fine support is provided in the film by the hilarious comic talents of Robert Strauss & Harvey Lembeck (Animal & Harry Shapiro)...just love that dreamy Betty Grable dance sequence...plus the fine character actor, Sig Ruman is very funny as chess playing German guard, Schulz.

A quite youthful Peter Graves plays security officer "Price", Gil Stratton narrates the tale as the meek "Cookie"...Sefton's trusty sidekick.....
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great POW story January 1, 2000
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is not your typical WWII war movie. Great acting by William Holden. He won the Oscar for best actor. Robert Strauss and Harry Lembeck are blazingly funny as 2 other POW's along with Holden. The movie is set in a German prison camp during WWII a week before Christmas. Holden is suspected of being a nazi spy living with the POW's. He's not, but he's going to find out who is. The other prisoner's have already beaten him and and taken some of his possessions. Definitely the best POW movie ever. The DVD has no "special" features such as behind the scenes or information about the cast. It does have scene selection, Dolby Digital, and English subtitles for the deaf and hearing impared. This DVD is the "Standard version" aspect ratio. The movie came out in 1953 when the movie studios were going to "Widescreen" but I think it was shot before they adapted. So this DVD is basically how it looked in the theatre. The transfer to DVD is great. It looks as if they restored it some. This is definitely one for your DVD collection.
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Memorable Comedy-Drama Comes To DVD October 5, 2003
Format:DVD
Although the play by Edmund Trzcinski and Donald Bevan had been a smash hit on Broadway, most insiders did not expect STALAG 17 to succeed as a film. The story concerned WWII American POWs held in a Nazi camp--but it combined serious drama with broad farce and offered one of the first anti-heroes in American film in the leading role. And with the war still very fresh in every one's mind, the combination seemed more likely to offend than appeal. Every one concerned held their breath when the film debuted: would audiences get it? They did indeed, and STALAG 17 became one of the most critically-lauded and commercially popular films of the early 1950s, picking up an Academy Award nomination for director Billy Wilder and a Best Actor Oscar for William Holden in the process.
The story concerns American prisoners of war held in the German "Stalag 17" in 1944, and it begins grimly: after much planning, the Americans have devised an escape for two of their number, but the next morning the bullet-riddled bodies of the two men are dragged into camp and dumped in the mud. But the escape plan should have worked. It was perfect. How did the Germans know? Suspicion begins to settle on J.J. Sefton (Holden), a bitter cynic and hardbitten opportunist who spends his time running various scams designed to strip his fellow prisoners of what little they have.
While this might have worked as drama pure and simple, the film counterbalances its darkness with streaks of a sort of "boys will be boys" broad farce played out in the most over-the-top way imaginable. And strange to say, even given the overplaying typical of the early 1950s, the balance works: for every dramatic twist there is a stroke of comedy, and for every stroke of comedy there is a dramatic twist.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Quasi-realism and burlesque: a comedic drama February 7, 2004
Format:DVD
There was surprisingly enough a lot of humor in the American attitude toward the Nazis and the Germans during World War II. Life goes on even under the conditions of being prisoners of war, and people need to laugh. In such circumstances, they especially need to laugh. We can see that in some of the songs from that time and in this play from Donald Bevant and Edmund Trzcinski that Billy Wilder made into an unusually good movie. It should be realized that the full extent of the horror that the Nazis had visited upon Europe was not known until after the war was over and we saw the films of the concentration camps.

William Holden stars as Sgt J.J. Sefton whose amoral cynicism and gift for the cheap hustle allow him to feather his nest even while a prisoner of war. He's the guy who always had a storehouse of cigarettes, booze, silk stockings, candy, etc. under his bunk, the guy who always won at cards, whose proposition bets always gave him the edge. We had a guy like that when I was in the army. We called him "Slick."

But William Holden's Sefton is more than Slick. He is outrageously cynical and uncommonly brave. He takes chances because he doesn't have the same kind of fear that others have. Most people would feel self-conscious (and nervous) eating a fried egg while everybody else in the barracks had watery-thin potato soup. Others might feel uncomfortable with bribing German guards for bottles of Riesling or tins of sardines. Not Sefton. He flaunts his store of goodies.

Perhaps that is overdone. Perhaps the real hardships that prisoners went through are glossed over in this comedic drama--a comedy, incidentally, that plays very much like a Broadway musical without the music.
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Special Collector's Edition really special ?
I think the extras are useful, especially the commentary track. If you are a fan of the movie, the reminiscences of the two actors and playwright Bevan are very interesting to hear. I cannot say if the image is better than that of previous editions.
Oct 23, 2010 by R.J. Laaksonen |  See all 2 posts
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