Stalag 17 is an exceptionally exciting drama, based on a play by two men who were prisoners in Stalag 17. Holden's is superb and won a Best Actor Oscar, and the rest of the cast is also excellent. This movie provides a good opportunity to talk about the role of humor, especially "black" or "gallows" humor, in adapting to the harshest circumstances. Here, when all control over their lives is taken from them, the prisoners try to establish some sense of control with jokes and pranks. While Sefton's approach helps him maintain some sense of power, choice, and control, Animal and Harry use dreams to help them feel better; also giving them a sense of control, even if it is only for the future.
Sefton is interesting because he has none of the redeeming qualities we expect of our heroes. In contrast to Dunbar, who is rich, handsome, charming, unpretentious, modest, and brave, Sefton is selfish, cynical, hostile, and motivated by the prospect of a reward, proving that heroes are just as complicated as everyone else, possibly more so.