Stalag 17 [Blu-ray 4K]
Blu-ray ALL - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Noor Razzak (8th November 2023).
The Film

"Stalag 17" directed by Billy Wilder and released in 1953, is a remarkable war film that still manages to captivate audiences with its suspenseful storytelling and memorable characters. Based on the Broadway play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trzcinski, the movie offers a unique blend of drama, humor, and tension within the confines of a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp.

Set in Stalag 17, a German POW camp, the film follows a group of American prisoners as they navigate the challenges of captivity and the constant threat of escape attempts. The story revolves around the suspicions and tensions that arise within the barracks as the prisoners suspect there may be a spy in their midst, leaking crucial information to the enemy.

The standout performance in "Stalag 17" is undoubtedly William Holden's portrayal of Sgt. J.J. Sefton. Holden's nuanced performance earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor and is one of the film's key highlights. His character, Sefton, is a cynical and self-serving prisoner who becomes a central figure in the mystery surrounding the potential traitor. Holden's charisma and wit shine through, making the character complex and unforgettable.

The film's supporting cast is equally impressive, with strong performances by the ensemble of prisoners who each bring their own quirks and personalities to the story. The camaraderie and rivalries among the prisoners create a realistic portrayal of life in a POW camp during the war. The interactions and dialogues among the characters keep the audience engaged and invested in the unfolding drama.

Director Billy Wilder's skillful direction is evident in his ability to balance the film's tone. He seamlessly blends humor and suspense, which adds depth to the characters and the overall narrative. The witty and often dark humor provides levity in a dire situation, making "Stalag 17" stand out among other war films of its era.

The film's cinematography and set design effectively transport the audience to the claustrophobic and harsh environment of the POW camp. The attention to detail in recreating the camp's atmosphere and the use of shadows and lighting to build suspense contribute to the film's overall impact.

"Stalag 17" also addresses themes of loyalty, trust, and the human spirit's resilience in the face of adversity. It explores the complexity of human relationships under extreme circumstances, making it not only a gripping war film but also a character-driven drama.

While "Stalag 17" is a classic that has stood the test of time, some viewers may find its pacing a bit slower compared to modern war films. However, its focus on character development and storytelling is a testament to the era in which it was made. "Stalag 17" is a classic war film that continues to be celebrated for its exceptional performances, engaging storytelling, and its unique blend of humor and suspense. It remains a timeless cinematic gem that deserves to be experienced by both avid fans of classic cinema and those new to the world of war films. Wilder's direction and Holden's unforgettable performance make "Stalag 17" a must-see for anyone interested in the enduring appeal of classic Hollywood cinema.


Presented in full frame 1.37:1 ratio mastered in 4K 2160p 24/fps and mastered using HEVC compression, the film includes HDR10 enhancement. I'm loving Kino's releases of late, especially classic black and white films on 4K. "Stalag 17" has been given a complete 4K restoration from the film's original 35mm camera negative and the result is awesome. The 4K image shines beautifully with rich and deep blacks and crisp whites. Grey tones and shadow detail looks good, as does texture, the image offers up great depth and it has never looked this good.


A single English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono, the film's original mono track given the DTS treatment, the audio is clean and clear and does not feature any of the flaws that would generally be associated with a film of its age. Despite the limited range that mono presents the track sounds robust, the score is nicely presented in the mix too. Optional subtitles are included in English for the hearing impaired.


Kino Lorber has packaged this release with three audio commentaries, as well as two featurettes, below is a closer look.


This disc features the film in 4K and is accompanied with three audio commentaries, the first features Filmmaker/Historian Steve Mitchell and Combat Films: American Realism Author Steven Jay Rubin. Film fans will enjoy this track filled with trivia about films from this era and a deep dive into the film's production process.

The second audio commentary by Film Historian Joseph McBride, Author of "Billy Wilder: Dancing on the Edge", this track focuses more on Wilder's career and on his filmmaking process.

The third and final audio commentary includes actors Richard Erdman and Gil Stratton with co-playwright Donald Bevan, each participant reminisces about their involvement in the film as they share their experiences on working with Wilder and Holden among other things.


This disc feature then standard HD version of the film as well as the same three audio commentaries as the 4K disc.

Also included is the "Stalag 17: From Reality to Screen" featurette (22:01), a classic behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film and its legacy.

Finally we also have "The Real Heroes of Stalag XVII B" featurette (24:49) takes a closer look at the real war heroes that were imprisoned during WWII.


Packaged in a 2-disc keep case housed in a cardboard slip-case.


Fantastic film with a fantastic 4K transfer, if this isn't in your collection then consider picking it up.

The Film: A Video: A+ Audio: A Extras: B+ Overall: A-


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