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Breakthrough (1979)

Steiner - Das Eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil (original title)
PG | | Drama, War | February 1979 (Austria)
In 1944 a German sergeant gets involved in an anti-Hitler conspiracy, and saves the life of an American colonel.


Andrew V. McLaglen


Peter Berneis (screenplay), Tony Williamson (screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Burton ... Sgt. Rolf Steiner
Rod Steiger ... Gen. Webster
Helmut Griem ... Maj. von Stransky
Klaus Löwitsch ... Uffz. Krüger
Michael Parks ... Sgt. Anderson
Werner Pochath ... Schütze Keppel
Véronique Vendell ... Yvette (as Veronique Vendell)
Horst Janson ... Capt. Berger
Joachim Hansen ... Capt. Kistner
Walter Ullrich Walter Ullrich ... Schütze Hauser
Dieter Schidor Dieter Schidor ... Cpl. Paul Anselm
Bruno Dietrich ... Schütze Nissen
Sonja Jeannine ... Jeanette
Günter Clemens Günter Clemens ... Cpl. Dorfmann
Michael Büttner Michael Büttner ... Schütze Junghans (as Wolfgang Büttner)


In 1944 German sergeant Rolf Steiner is on the Russian Front where out of frustration he hits an officer. Steiner is sent on leave to Paris to avoid further incidents. In Paris news of the Allied Invasion of Normandy arrive and Steiner meets up with his unit there being recently transferred from Russia. Steiner finds out that his old company commander from the Russian Front, Major Von Stransky, is his new commander. Steiner and Von Stransky hate one another. The German general in charge of the area is General Hofmann who's a member of the conspiracy to kill Hitler. Hofmann hopes to surrender his troops to the Americans. He reveals his plans to Sergeant Steiner and asks Steiner to meet the Americans to negotiate a possible surrender if Hitler is eliminated. When the plot to kill Hitler fails, the surrender plan is in jeopardy. Written by nufs68

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


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


Drama | War


PG | See all certifications »

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Did You Know?


The suicide pill the SS officer offers Gen. Hoffman is actually a Tic Tac breath mint. See more »


In reality the Allies offered only unconditional surrender. See more »


Sgt. Rolf Steiner: NCOs cannot resign.
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Alternate Versions

A longer German language version runs at 126 minutes, extra scenes includes:
  • An opening scene that starts at the railway station, Rolf Steiner and Paul Anselm meet again and discuss their current predicament. Captain Stransky appears out of the station building and sends Steiner and Anselm to check out a railway tunnel down the line. Steiner and Anselm meet up with Corporal Kruger before returning to the station. (8mins approx)
  • When Steiner returns to German lines, the scene where he meets his new platoon is longer and includes introductions to new comrades Rothe, Dorfmann and Keppel.
  • An extended scene between Yvette and Steiner at her apartment.
  • Steiner is mocked by an old woman as he leaves Yvette's apartment.
  • The two orphaned children Steiner looks at, at the end turn up earlier and throw rocks at Steiner.
  • The final battle is extended, there is more footage of the American GIs attacking the town, the American tanks cause greater damage to the town. Steiner shoots GIs whilst trying to defend the townspeople.
See more »


Features Cross of Iron (1977) See more »

User Reviews

Battle Of The Timelords
13 January 2013 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

This is a sequel to the very under rated Peckinpah classic CROSS OF IRON . You remember it don't you ? James Coburn as Sgt Steiner getting on the wrong side of Maximillian Schell's Captain Stransky on the Soviet Eastern Front in 1943 . BREAKTHROUGH as it's known in Britain is a film trying to market itself as a sequel and I'm afraid if it resembles anything it probably resembles a plot device in DOCTOR WHO called regeneration where a Timelord can turn in to the same character with a completely different physical appearance and personality . In the case of Steiner he was last seen as being a cynical character with a strong resemblance to James Coburn who suddenly looks like a much respected stage actor from Wales who's slumming it in a not very good movie . Strangely enough Captain Stransky is also a Timelord . I suppose that's an advantage if you've got several million soldiers in the Red Army who want payback for having their families strung up with piano wire

There are a couple of good battle sequences at the start of BREAKTHROUGH but if you've seen CROSS OF IRON you'll instantly know where these scenes were stolen from . You also can't help noticing a bizarre lack of continuity to these scenes . Steiner you remember was a soldier's soldier , he might be fighting for a murderous regime but his loyalty was to his men not to the regime and for some strange reason he is now wearing a dress uniform on the front line and these's not even a speck of dust on his uniform . Maybe his clothes can regenerate after every battle with the Soviets ? You can't fail to notice how crap he is in a battle either . He's given an order to blow up a tunnel . Arrives at he tunnel , staggers down the tunnel no doubt looking for the nearest drinks cabinet , staggers alongside a Soviet tank , drops a grenade in the tank , and gets back in to his truck looking for the nearest bar . All he had to do was connect a wire to a plunger and blow the tunnel up which seems beyond his capabilities . In fact if this is the standard of the average Wehrmacht soldier the Soviets must be glad they didn't have to fight any Italian conscripts

I'm being very kind here because I awarded BREAKTHROUGH four out of ten on its own merits - not as a sequel to CROSS OF IRON in which case it would have been awarded minus points . It is a totally disjointed film especially where editing is concerned where the story jumps around from location to location with little rhyme or reason with the big name cast realising they're just doing it for the money . It says a lot when its predecessor was directed by someone suffering from intense substance abuse and was a hundred times better than this

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West Germany


German | English | French

Release Date:

February 1979 (Austria) See more »

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Breakthrough See more »

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Color (Technicolor)

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2.35 : 1
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