Well, I hate to agree with my beloved, dog-eared Maltin guide, but every once in a while they're right, and Stalag 17 is indeed the granddaddy of all WWII POW movies. That Billy Wilder knows how to pick good projects, I tells ya! Why, people are still watching and talking about most of them even today! There are some campy aspects to it, but that helps to detract from the underlying grimness of it all. And it's a bit educational, I dare say. Hard to believe, but apparently the Germans in WWII actually had some prisoners of war rather than just killing them all outright.
At its core, Stalag 17 is a good old-fashioned mystery story. Among this group of American sergeants, there's a rat telling the Germans every last detail about what the Americans are up to. Is it the obvious choice of Seften, the Sergeant who's openly trading cigarettes with the Nazis for favors? Or is it someone else? Also, is that Lembeck guy the father of Michael Lembeck, director of films like Santa Clause 3? Indeed! Well, that's one mystery solved. And while the story's based on a play, and most of the action takes place indoors, a few of the outdoor sequences reminded me of Schindler's List. Oh, you gotta see this film if you want to be in the big leagues... you know, like the guys when they beat up Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket!
-so sayeth The Movie Hooligan