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Breakthrough (1979)
"Steiner - Das Eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil" (original title)

 -  Drama | War  -  January 1981 (USA)
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Ratings: 4.9/10 from 566 users  
Reviews: 16 user | 3 critic

German sergeant gets involved in anti-Hitler conspiracy, and saves the life of an American colonel.



(screenplay), (screenplay), 1 more credit »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Gen. Webster
Helmut Griem ...
Maj. von Stransky
Klaus Löwitsch ...
Sgt. Anderson
Werner Pochath ...
Schütze Keppel
Véronique Vendell ...
Yvette (as Veronique Vendell)
Capt. Berger
Capt. Kistner
Walter Ullrich ...
Schütze Hauser
Dieter Schidor ...
Cpl. Paul Anselm
Bruno Dietrich ...
Schütze Nissen
Sonja Jeannine ...
Günter Clemens ...
Cpl. Dorfmann
Michael Büttner ...
Schütze Junghans (as Wolfgang Büttner)


German sergeant gets involved in anti-Hitler conspiracy, and saves the life of an American colonel.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Burton...Mitchum...Steiger...Enemies...Yet Allies In Combat With Destiny!


Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »




| |

Release Date:

January 1981 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Breakthrough  »

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Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Intended as a sequel to The Cross of Iron (1977), the film was barely released at all. See more »


German NCO parading his platoon with the command "Ten Hut", how very Teutonic. See more »


Follows The Cross of Iron (1977) See more »

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User Reviews

A Fairly Typical World War II Movie That Could Have Been Better
3 September 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Though one can hardly tell it, this film is meant to be a sequel to Sam Peckinpah's 1977 World War II Cross Of Iron. I one for one didn't realize this until after seeing the film which shows you that this is a sequel in the loosest of terms. While it most certainly is not in the same league as Cross Of Iron, Breakthrough is still your fairly typical World War II film. It's also an example of how to under-use and misuse the talents of good actors.

I'll admit the major reason I saw this was for its actors and especially Richard Burton, my favorite actor. That said the talents of the cast are sadly underused or misused for the most part. Burton is certainly miscast in the role of Sargant Steiner as he is too old (approximately fifty-five if I remember correctly) to be believable even as an older Sergeant in the German Army. The same can very much be said of Robert Mitchum as American Army Colonel Rogers who looks a bit too old to be realistic in the role. While they may be too old for their roles, both Burton and Mitchum give fair performances though far from their greatest moments to be certain. The movie does make some decent use of its supporting cast, especially Rod Steiger and Curt Jergens as American and German generals respectively. The test of the film's supporting cast gives fairly middle of the road performances as well. As a consequence, the overall acting quality in this is less then one might have expected.

The production values, music and direction as well are nothing incredible either. The entire film has a very low budget feel to it from the opening credits (which in fact use footage from Cross Of Iron) to barely decorated sets and beyond. Not to mention the score from composer Peter Thomas that, with a very electronic feel to it, seems more evocative of the disco music popular when the film was made rather then a score more befitting to a World War II film. The film's direction also seems to be a bit lacking as well in many scenes which seems a shame considering that it was directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, the director of things like The Wild Geese (also starring Burton) and the World War II action/adventure movie The Sea Wolves. All said the production values, music and direction are all things that let the film down.

This brings us to the script of Breakthrough. The script certainly has an interesting premise by taking some of the characters of Cross Of Iron, organizing circumstances to get them to the other front of World War II Europe and then throwing the July 20th plot to kill Hitler into the middle of it. The problem is that while the first two things are done somewhat believably things start going downhill as soon as the Hitler assassination plot comes forward. The whole thing is set-up rather strangely and requires a couple of major leaps in plot (Steiner to go towards American lines in the middle of the night at the exact same time Rogers goes looking for anti-tank guns) to get things moving and once they do things don't get better. What could have been an interesting thriller plot instead descends into your rather standard World War II shot 'em up by the time it's over with. The result is an uneven film that seems to just go from plot line to plot line in hopes of one of them taking charge of the film. The sad fact is none of them ever do.

Somehow Breakthrough feels like a list of missed opportunities. With an underused / misused cast, low budget production values, an out of place score, uninspired direction and an uneven script there's plenty of instances where things could have been something better. Instead we get a fairly typical World War II movie with an interesting but sadly misused premise. In short: it could have been better, especially as it's a sequel to Cross Of Iron.

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