Stalag 17 (1953): Wilder’s Superb Prison Drama, Starring William Holden in Oscar-Winning Performance

William Holden won the Best Actor Oscar for playing the cocky, self-serving American prisoner in Billy Wilder’s Stalag 17, an occasionally biting, always rousingly entertaining prison drama.

Wilder and co-writer Edwin Blum’s witty version adapted to the big screen the Broadway hit play by Donald Bevan and Edmund Trczinski.

Set entirely within a WWII German prison camp for American servicemen, this serio-comedy depicts in a raw, tense, and funny way the daily existence, defined by cruel ironies, prickling situations, jousting schemes, rivalry feuds, upmanship games, and all kinds of tricks

This was Holden’s second teaming with director Wilder after the successful collaboration on the noir inside Hollywood melodrama, “Sunset Boulevard,” in 1950, which was followed by another union, in 1954, on the romantic melodrama “Sabrina,” co-starring Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Director: Billy Wilder
Actor: William Holden
Supporting Actor: Robert Strauss

Oscar Awards: 1

Actor

Oscar Context:

In 1953, “From Here to Eternity” competed for the Best Picture Oscar with two historical dramas, “Julius Caesar” and “The Robe,” a romantic comedy “Roman Holiday,” and a Western, “Shane.” Each of the five nominees received at least one Oscar, and “Roman Holiday,” 3, including one for Motion Picture Story, Ian McLellan Hunter, who served as a front for blacklisted Dalton Trumbo; Trumbo got his award in 1992.

William Holden won the Best Actor for Billy Wilder’s “Stalag 17,” and Frank Sinatra the Supporting Oscar for “From Here to Eternity,” which swept most of the Oscars, including Best Director for Fred Zinnemann.

Cast

Sefton (William Holden)
Lt. Dunbar (Don Taylor)
Oberst Von Scherbach (Otto Preminger)
Stosh (Robert Strauss)
Harry (Harvey Lembeck)
Hoppy (Richard Erdman)
Price (Peter Graves)
Duke (Neville Brand)
Schultz (Sig Ruman)
Manfredi (Michael Moore)
Johnson (Peter Baldwin)
Joey (Robinson Stone)
Blondie (Robert Shawley)
Marko (William Pierson)