Stalag 17 (film, 1953)

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Stalag 17
Stalag 17.jpg
Directed by Billy Wilder
Produced by Billy Wilder
William Schorr
Written by Donald Bevan
Edmund Trzcinski
Billy Wilder
Narrated by Gil Stratton (as character "Clarence Harvey 'Cookie' Cook")
Starring William Holden
Don Taylor
Otto Preminger
Music by Leonid Raab
Cinematography Ernest Laszlo
Editing by George Tomasini
Distributed by Paramount
Release date(s) July 1, 1953
Running time 120 min.
Country USA
Language English

Stalag 17 is a 1953 film by Billy Wilder, and based on a play written by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, basing the film on their experiences as prisoners of war at Stalag XVII-B, located near the town of Gneixendorf, Austria, during World War II. The film won the Academy Award for Best Actor in a leading role (William Holden).

Plot synopses

In the days before Christmas, 1944, a pair of escaping G.I.'s are found out and shot; evidence leads the remaining prisoners to conclude that one of their own may be an American stoolie seeking favors, with the blame quickly falling on a cynical, self-serving sergeant.


  • William Holden......J.J. Sefton
  • Don Taylor..........Lt. Dunbar
  • Otto Preminger......Col. Oberst von Scherbach
  • Robert Strauss......Stanislas Kasava (the Animal)
  • Harvey Lembeck......Harry Shapiro
  • Richard Erdman......Hoffy
  • Peter Graves........Price
  • Neville Brand.......Duke
  • Sig Ruman...........Sgt. Schulz
  • Michael Moore.......Manfredi
  • Peter Baldwin.......Johnson
  • Robinson Stone......Joey
  • Robert Shawley......Blondie Peterson
  • William Pierson.....Marko the Mailman
  • Gil Stratton Jr.....Clarence Harvey Cook (Cookie)


William Holden did not want the part of Sefton; he didn't like Sefton's selfishness. Paramount execs eventually forced him to take the part, and Holden gave an outstanding performance, resulting in an Oscar.

The Bevan/Trzcinski play debuted in May, 1951, and did a record 472 performances. Harvey Lembeck and Robert Strauss would be the only stage performers to take their roles of Harry and the Animal to the film version.

Elements of Stalag 17, such as the clandestine radio, the making of distractions, and Sgt. Schulz, were remade in 1965 for the television comedy series Hogan's Heroes.