Classic Movie Reviews

Stalag 17 Review

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 ( Apr 1918 -- Nov 1981)
Born William Franklin Beedle, Jr., in O'Fallon, Illinois, the son of an industrial chemist and a school teacher, Holden moved with his family at age 3 to South Pasadena. After graduation from South Pasadena High School, he entered Pasadena Junior College and became involved in local radio plays. He was spotted by a talent scout from Paramount Pictures in 1937 while playing an 80-year-old at the Playbox. His first film role was in Prison Farm (1938) and his first starring role was in Golden Boy (1939), followed by a film adaptation of the play, Our Town. During World War II he served in the Army Air Force, acting in training films. His career went into high gear in 1950, playing opposite Gloria Swanson in Sunset Boulevard and receiving an Oscar nomination. The 1950s were something of a golden decade for the Golden Boy, with several classic film roles, including Stalag 17 (1953), The Country Girl (1954), The Bridges at Toko Ri (1954), Picnic (1955), Love Is A Many Splendored Thing (1955) (It was revealed later that his co-star, Jennifer Jones, detested Holden and did everything she could to make her scenes with him unpleasant, including chewing garlic before kissing scenes.), The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957). He showed his versatility in several light comedies, including the controversial The Moon Is Blue and Born Yesterday. The 1960s were less favorable but the 1970s again brought some memorable films, such as Towering Inferno (1974) and Network (1976). In 1974 Holden received an Emmy for the made-for-TV movie, The Blue Knight. He was nominated for the Oscar three times and won for Stalag 17. His death came in a bizarre accident at home. While intoxicated he tripped on a throw rug and struck his head on a nightstand, bleeding to death before being discovered.


"Ist you all gute little Nazis?"   


    The best of the many WWII prisoner of war films. William Holden earned an Oscar playing a cynical Air Force sergeant whose "me first" approach to survival makes him highly unpopular with his fellow POWs. When it becomes probable that there is an informer in the barracks, suspicion quickly settles on Holden. His wits and survival instincts allow him to expose the real spy, a German plant, in their midst. Billy Wilder skillfully blends comedy and drama. The top-notch supporting cast includes Otto Preminger (as a very credible meanie of a prison camp commandant), Don Taylor, Peter Graves and Neville Brand.


1953, Directed by Billy Wilder

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