||Title: Cross of Iron
|Genre: Drama, War
|| Year: 1977
|| Country: UK, West Germany
||Starring: James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, David Warner, Klaus Löwitsch
|| Director: Sam Peckinpah
My Review: Cross of Iron - 1977 (Drama, war, action) A WWII drama featuring Nazis and Russians. Directed by Sam Peckinpah (The Wild Bunch, Straw Dogs, The Getaway), starring James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, David Warner, Senta Berger, and others. This is an anti-war film from a German point of view. It depicts the decline of German might during WWII. As the war grinds on in the Eastern Front, the German air of superiority begins to see its first signs of defeat. Set in 1943 on the Russian front, this movie is somewhat like ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’. It features the absurdities of war, where men are forced to follow the orders of men who care more about their personal ambitions than they do about the men they command. Jame Coburn does a magnificent job as Cpl/Sgt Steiner, the battle hardened, pragmatic and courageous soldier who’s doing his best to survive with honor. Maximilian Schell plays Capt. Hauptman, a last vestige of the German aristocracy, who is only interested in his own personal ambition. He will earn the Iron cross despite the fact that others must sacrifice for his vanity. He is despicable, a pox upon the truly courageous troops fighting for their survival and some semblance of honor, and a damn fine actor. Oh how you come to hate him by the end of this movie. The movie is quite violent at times, but none of it is beyond the destruction you would expect in the midst of the Russian front. The Russians are treated as a backdrop or moving thematic element in the movie, relegated to the role of scenery and mood setting. Some of the writing was weak, but the direction was excellent. The poor quality of this pan-and-scan transfer is atrocious. The sound is horrible, and unfortunately it’s all in English. In the end its a good movie and it could be better with some restoration. I give it a 3 out of 5.
Summary: In 1943, in the Russian front, the decorated leader Rolf Steiner is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile the upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky is assigned as the new commander of his squad. After a bloody battle of Steiner's squad against the Russian troops led by the brave Lieutenant Meyer, who dies in the combat, the coward Stransky claims that he led his squad against the Russian and requests to be awarded with the Iron Cross to satisfy his personal ambition together with that of his aristocratic family. Stransky gives the names of Steiner and of the homosexual Lieutenant Triebig as witnesses of his accomplishment, but Steiner, who has problems with the chain of command in the army and with the arrogance of Stransky, refuses to participate in the fraud. When Colonel Brandt gives the order to leave the position in the front, Stransky does not retransmit the order to Steiner's squad, and they are left alone surrounded by the ...