“All right then, gentlemen, we are all friends again. And with Christmas coming on I have a special treat for you. I’ll have you all deloused for the holidays and I’ll have a little Christmas tree for every barrack. You will like that.”
It’s Christmas time for the POW’s of Stalag 17. It’s 1944 and the war is still going strong. Stalag 17 is the prison that the allied prisoners are kept in. And it seems that there is a mole in the midst.
Director Billy Wilder manages to keep a fine balance between comedy and drama in this classic film. William Holden stars as an American prisoner who manages to barter and gamble himself into a large supply of luxuries much to the chagrin of his fellow inmates. When a prison break goes wrong it becomes clear that someone is informing the Germans on the prisoners’ plans and Holden quickly becomes the number one suspect.
The film is funny but with a cynical look at the way people treat each other. After being beaten by his fellow prisoners and all his stuff confiscated, Holden starts to look for the real mole. More for clearing his name than for stopping the Nazis. Holden’s character only looks out for number one.
Director Otto Preminger starred in one of his few acting roles as the camp’s evil Nazi commandant. His only other memorable acting role was Mr. Freeze on the 1960’s Batman TV show. Peter Graves is the barracks security chief. William Holden won the Best Actor Oscar for his role and had the shortest acceptance on record at the time. “Thank you.”