Advertisement

Ideal Memorial Day weekend film: 'Stalag 17' on TCM

In his 1953 POW movie, "Stalag 17" (playing on TCM at 8 p.m. tonight), Billy Wilder tapped William Holden's never-before-exploited brand of sinewy charisma. The longtime leading man brought matter-of-fact fierceness to the role of a loner named Sefton, a scrounger who antagonizes barracks-mates with his ingenious moneymaking ventures (such as a literal rat race), his bartering with Nazi guards, and his willingness to bet on whether potential escapees will make it out alive. Holden exudes orneriness, and his street-fighting reflexes come into play when the rest of the POWs suspect him of leaking secrets to the Nazis. "Stalag 17" is a claustrophobic war film with the charge of high adventure. Its blend of suspense and black comedy influenced every POW movie or TV show to come, from "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "The Great Escape" to "Hogan's Heroes."

Is it possible to make a movie like this today without camping it up the way  Quentin Tarantino does? And who could play the main role the way Holden did? George Clooney? Clive Owen?

Advertisement

For other Memorial Day weekend movies, check out this Sun photo gallery


Advertisement