STALAG 17 (1953)

This is my third year being a part of Shit Movie Fest's once a year annual event known as "25 Days of Shitmas". My previous turns writing for Thomas, I did the fantasy route. Narnia and Hogfather both good movies and dealt with Christmas but I longed to venture to escape that route again. I wanted to try to a different film that would possibly test my skills and I figured I would go with a war time classic.

Stalag 17 (1953)

The movie begins on the longest night of the year in 1944. In a Nazi prisoner camp the story that will be told is narrated by Cookie. He explains that the camp is filled with Polish soldiers, Russian females and over 600 some American sergeants of various crews in the military. Two men are set to escape from Stalag 17 and make their break for it through a tunnel under the camp. Inside the barracks the awaiting men start to place bets as to where and how far the escapees will make it. Sefton, a cocky and selfish man makes the bet that they will not make it to the forest. As they come up from the tunnel they are met by Nazi gunners who gun down the escaping prisoners. This is where suspicions begin to arise that maybe a rat may be in their midst.

As you may of guessed the living conditions for prisoners be it Americans during the war with the Nazi's were exactly top notch. But they showed that these prisoners were allowed mail, meals that are not so great, having to use the same water they piss in to literally clean themselves with and do what they can do to keep their hopes up despite being held prisoner. They use a crude radio that's passed back and forth between barracks to listen to the BBC and war news to keep up with the times this radio is eventually taken after its the rat tells the Nazi's that its in the barracks with the men inside a bucket of water.

We learn that some of the prisoners have tall tales about themselves and interesting stories like "Animal" having a boyhood like crush on Hollywood starlet Betty Grable and Shapiro whose day of mail consists of 6-7 letters that he tells Animal are the women who love "Sugar Lips" Shapiro but in actuality they are letters from a finance company foreclosing on his car. Its during that time we are given a temporary stay prisoner named Dunbar whose said to be responsible for blowing up the train tracks for a nazi train and derailing it. He is eventually tortured for information but remains adamant that he had nothing to do with the blowing up of the tracks. During this time Sefton is accused of being the one who sold Dunbar out so he is eventually beaten up by the others in the barracks and is kept from being a part of anything going on in future escapes.

Its during that time Sefton decides that he is going to clear his name and sets out to find out who the real rat is. During an air raid Sefton remains in the barracks and hides in the darkness as the rat comes out of the darkness and reveals himself to be Price, a hand placed German soldier who lived in America who came back home to his mother land to fight for the Germans. After his brief interaction with the Staff Sergeant Schulz they both leave together leaving a hidden Sefton to come out of hiding and pondering his thoughts as to what to do next. He is torn between revealing Price as a double agent of sorts only to know the Nazi's would pull him out and put him in another camp and if he or any else kills him the men in the barracks would definitely be executed.

On Christmas day the men of the barracks created a diversion to get Dunbar out of harms way of being executed and hide him within the camp itself with only the most trusted man in the camp knowing where he is hidden. After and endless search and finding nothing the Nazi's promise to tear the camp down to find Dunbar so the men make a plan to get him out of the camp that night and make the decision that only one man could do it but they choose to leave 2 men out of it, Sefton and Joey. During a dog tag drawing Price grabs it and makes a convincing story that he should do it and they agree with him until Sefton makes his move on him by offering a bet similar to the earlier bet from the beginning of the movie. After a back and forth argument Sefton asks Price what time did he hear the news about Pearl Harbor? Price answers 6 pm which was the right time for Berlin not the right time for Cleveland, Ohio where he claimed he was from. Sefton grabs Price and rips out the Queen piece from the chess board and shows the men that this piece was the mailbox that he used to communicate with the NAzi's about all the news he got from the men in the barracks. Sefton takes on the task to get Dunbar out of the camp as the men tie a string of cans to Price's leg and toss him out the door where the nazi's gun him down and Sefton gets Dunbar out of the camp on Christmas night.

                                                            reviewed by Bucky

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