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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Violence & Scariness
Prisoners shot trying to escape, Sefton beaten.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Some sexual references.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Prisoners make their own liquor.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this movie has some sexual references. Prisoners make a telescope to spy on the Russian women prisoners and often refer to their long separation from women; Sefton bribes the German guards to let him visit the women; one prisoner keeps insisting "I believe her" when he gets a letter from his wife saying that she found a baby who happens to look just like her. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.