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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
Filmed in Yugoslavia with money put up by a West German porn producer. See more »
The German machine guns shown in the film are portraying MG42s, a weapon commonly known as having a high rate of fire (around 1,200-1,500 rpm). The machine guns we see and hear in the film are actually M53s, the postwar Yugoslavian copy of the MG42 with a much slower rate of fire (500-600rpm). See more »
Cross of Iron is probably the second best film made by Sam Peckinpah, rivalled only by The Wild Bunch. It is a war film shich follows a unit of German soldiers as they escape from the front line as the Russians smash through their ranks. This was perhaps the most devastating line to be fighting on during World War Two, and as expected there is a lot of death and gore, not to mention filth, sweat and treachery.
James Coburn plays a German soldier with an almost God-like air of invincibility about him. He is not a comic book creation, but a hardened soldier who terrifies everybody, including his commanding officers. Max Schell plays a commanding officer who wants an Iron Cross, despite the fact that he a coward, and will go to the most treacherous lengths to get it.
This is an upsetting and unflinching film. It pre-dates Saving Private Ryan by two decades, yet is just as detailed and frightening, just as bloody, and maybe even better.
Anyone yet to see Cross of Iron must do so as soon as possible. It is one of the great war films, and an unforgettably chilling experience.
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