This is one of the essential war movies. No other film was quite like this one. Billy Wilder produced, wrote, and directed it. Hogan's Heroes was based on it. Blending perfectly comedy, suspense and tragedy, it is one of the must-see movies of the century. It's that good. Warning: Don't read on if you have never seen this movie.
Stalag 17 is the name of a German P.O.W. camp in World War II. The whole film is specifically about a particular barracks. Barracks 4, where all the P.O.W. lieutenants are held. This particular barracks plans the most escapes, but all of their attempts fail. When two men from the barracks attempt an escape and are killed in the process, the whole barracks becomes suspicious of a spy in the group. After awhile they come to suspect a scheming, sharped-tongued officer named Sefton, played by William Holden.
After a new bunkie named Lieutenant Dunbar moves in, he tells of how he blew up a German train. Soon after this Dunbar is taken in by the camp commandant for questioning. Mean while all the guys in Barracks 4 beat the crap out of Sefton, suspecting he turned Dunbar in. Sefton starts an investigation of his own to prove his innocence. After discovering the way that the real spy communicates with the barracks commander, Sefton has to try to find a way to prove that the guy (who is also the barracks security officer) who is the spy (Peter Graves) is really guilty.
When the P.O.W.s learn that Dunbar will soon be put into the hands of the S.S., they begin to plan a daring rescue attempt. When Dunbar is taken out of the commandant's compound to be taken away, the men hide a smoke bomb and then start it right in the middle of the most crowded area. Then the smoke bomb goes off, there is confusion and then Dunbar is gone. The Germans search everywhere until they finally give up finding him. Only Hoffy, the head officer of the barracks knows where Dunbar is hidden. Hoffy then chooses one volunteer to go help Dunbar escape from the compound. When the real spy steps up to the job, Sefton moves in. Sefton then puts him on the spot and the spy starts to panic. He's finally caught. Sefton then volunteers to take Dunbar out of the camp. Hoffy comes up with the plan to use the spy as a decoy to divert the Germans attention while the two escape. It's then time, Sefton moves in towards Dunbar, who is located inside the water tower. They then move right after the spy is thrown out of the barracks. The Germans start to fire at the spy and then Sefton and Dunbar run to their freedom.
I don't usually care for black & white movies, except for Billy Wilder films, so I though I'd give it a try. I loved it and I'll watch it over and over again. It's an essential war movie for those who have never experienced a good war movie. There is so much more to this movie, but I don't want to spoil the experience for you. If you want to know the ending to one of the greatest war and escape movies ever made, watch it for yourself.