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Top Customer Reviews
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.....Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Quite possibly the best Prisoner of War movie ever made, and that includes "the Great Escape", and "Bridge on the River Kwai", which curiously enough also starred... Read morePublished 20 days ago by WATCHER
I love this movie. It is a,sort of, period piece. By that I mean that we get to see very great actors in their youthful prime, who are now gone. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Francis C. Donnelly
Great movie, but the case it came in is a little lite and cheap feeling, and I was very disappointed to find, despite not being listed as full screen only online, according to the... Read morePublished 2 months ago by CopperPhoenix
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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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