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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 that dies in the combat, the coward Stransky claims that he led his squad against the Russian and requests to be awarded with the Iron of Cross to satisfy his personal ambition together with 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 enemy and... Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Cross of Iron (1977) was a low budget masterpiece from ace director Sam Peckinpah. After having a falling out from Hollywood, Peckinpah went to Europe to direct this W.W.II. anti-war film. The film centers around Sergent Steiner, a battle weary veteran who leads his company into battle everyday for the past three years. Unlike others his only concern is the survival of his men and the fact that he's a live to live another day. One day an officer of Prussian descent (Maximillian Schnell) decides to make his and everyone beneath him lives miserable. James Mason plays the battle hardened Colonel whilst David Warner co-stars as his cynical aide de camp.
Using the limited time and budget to it's fullest extent, Peckinpah created a very stylish and action packed film. The bullets fly, shells pound the earth and the blood flows. The editing is brilliant and the cinematography perfectly captures the action. The battles are very well staged and the acting is executed very well. James Coburn earned his stripes with this film. He's the man! Senta Berger a Peckinpah veteran from Major Dundee) has a small role as a German nurse who briefly becomes involved with Sergent Steiner. What I liked about this movie was the fact that Coburn, Warner and Mason didn't bother to use fake Teutonic accents.
If you're a viewer of war films or a Peckinpah fan, this has to be on top of your list. This is one hell of an action film. War will never look the same again after watching this film. Sadly the domestic D.V.D. release is not only expensive but of poor quality. Try and find and alternate way of watching this neglected masterpiece. I have to give this film a very high rating.
Highest recommendation possible.
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