Stalag 17 is a German prisoner camp situated along Danube river during World War II. One of the barracks is considered jinxed as there is a Nazi spy among the occupants. This become evident when two men are killed by the Nazis when they try to escape through a tunnel dug from the barracks to outside the perimeter. This worries the barracks security officer, Price(Peter Graves).
The occupants of the barrack suspects Sefton(William Holden) to be the spy. Sefton has been living a good life in the prison. He operates a black market within the barracks as he runs a gambling den and a distillery. He also has a telescope in the barracks which is rented out to prisoners to voyeur the nearby women prison camp. When the two prisoners tried to escape, Sefton had bet on these prisoners failing to break out free.When confronted, Sefton denies these charges. He also expresses his desire to stay low in the prison camp as he is not interested in the war.
Just before Christmas, the Germans confiscate an hidden radio from the barracks. Enraged by this, the prisoners attack Sefton thinking him to be the spy. Hurt badly in the attack, Sefton decides to uncover the identity of the spy. The rest of the movie reveals the identity of the spy.
Billy Wilder directs this movie. He tells us an interesting suspense story which is mostly set inside a barrack. He provides us a separate humor track involving two prisoners in order to provide distraction. He has concentrated on the building the drama and making us second guessing the events.
William Holden is a perfect fit as Sefton. Aided by his voice, he is able to convincingly establish Sefton as selfish, uncaring and self-centered who is only bothered about a good life for himself.
A classic whodunnit. If you are into “Black and White” gems from a previous era, watch this.
Picture Courtesy: Wikipedia