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Stalag 17

There's something about World War II prisoners of war that produce great movies, some of the best war movies ever - among others: Bridge on the River Kwai, The Great Escape and Stalag 17, which I'd never seen before.

I won't go into great detail except to note that the tone of Stalag 17 was an amazing blend of joviality and grit, more sharp than any dramedies that I can recall, probably because of the lack of sentimentality. There were moments, like in the mail call scene, where - literally within five seconds - the tone shifted from humorous to dramatic back to humorous. Other times (and I guess more conventionally) the funny or farcical was counterpointed against the gritty or tragic. I'm assuming that Billy Wilder is responsible for this mix even though three others were credited as writers.

The performances were fairly typical of their time - nothing extraordinary, with some character played quite broadly - but appropriately so for the movie. Willian Holden won the Best Actor Oscar (and gave the best acceptance speech ever!) and he is pretty good, but I think credit goes to the writing here more than the acting.

I do wonder if making the spy turn out to be a German wasn't a copout of sorts - would it have been unacceptable to show Americans ratting out on Americans less than a decade after the war's end?

Comments (1)

I couldn't agree more, WW2 POW movies are classics.
I recall about seven or eight years ago after watching "The Great Escape" I asked my father who had been a POW for four years in Germany what he was. "A scrounger" he replied. Having seen the movie I thought, "How cool is that".
My enthusiasm aside my Dad did explain to me his scrounging was a little different. He was responsible for scrounging for extra food for the prisoners rather than materials like in the movie. Still its great to be able to relate to my fathers "duties" in POW Camp, to what I had seen in the movie.

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