In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
In 1943, on the Russian front, decorated leader Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) is promoted to Sergeant after another successful mission. Meanwhile, upper-class and arrogant Prussian Captain Hauptmann Stransky (Maximilian Schell) 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 (Igor Galo), who dies in 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 (Roger Fritz) 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 (James Mason) gives the order to leave the position in the front, Stransky does not retransmit the order ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) carries a Russian PPSh-41 sub-machine gun originally chambered for 7.62x25 Tokarev, a round the Germans did not (officially) use, but the 41 was easily rebarrelled for a 9 millimeter parabellum round, which the Germans did use, and the weapon was, in fact, adopted by the Germans as the MP717(r). While the drum magazine worked with 9mm ammo, the Russian curved stick magazine did not. If the Germans chose to use stick magazines with this gun, they had to modify the magazine housing to accept German issue MP38/40 magazines. However, doing this would prevent the use of the drum magazines. So Steiner's weapon, therefore, may be in the original caliber, or may have been rebarrelled for 9mm parabellum, but had not been modified for German stick magazines. See more »
Oberst Brandt is wearing the Krim shield on his right arm. It is worn on the left arm only. See more »
I still rate this as the best and most honest war film I've seen. It ignores the Hollywood schmaltz that spoiled Saving Private Ryan and manages to portray the soldiers as human beings and particularly for German soldiers this is an exception. The battle scenes are expansive and very bloody as we follow the German platoon trying to get back to its own lines. The soldiers are heroes in an unheroic war and the film captures the chaos, cynicism and heroism of the German retreat. Well worth checking out.
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