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The Misfit Brigade (1987)

War story of the 27th Panzers, Hitler's heavy-duty combat regiment composed of prisoners. In 1943, this motley tank crew is sent on a suicide mission behind enemy lines to destroy a Soviet train that's carrying fuel for the Red Army.


Gordon Hessler


Sven Hassel (novel), Nelson Gidding (screenplay)


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Bruce Davison ... Cpl. Joseph Porta
David Patrick Kelly ... The Legionnaire
D.W. Moffett ... Capt. Erich von Barring
Jay O. Sanders ... Tiny
Keith Szarabajka ... Old Man
Oliver Reed ... The General
David Carradine ... Col. Von Weisshagen
Branko Vidakovic Branko Vidakovic ... Cpl. Hugo Stege (as Branko Vidak)
Slavko Stimac ... Sven Hassel
Boris Komnenic Boris Komnenic ... Bauer
Andreja Maricic Andreja Maricic ... Müller
Klaus Pagh Klaus Pagh ... Reinhardt
Anton Sosic Anton Sosic ... Freckles
Svetislav 'Bule' Goncic Svetislav 'Bule' Goncic ... Sgt. Siegfried (as Svetislav Goncic)
Gordana Bjelica Gordana Bjelica ... Russian Officer


In 1943, the Nazi Germany is suffering heavy losses at the Eastern Front and an order for all-out retreat is eventually issued. The 27th Penal Panzer Regiment, consisting solely of people convicted of various real or political crimes ranging from incest to dissidence, has just returned from Stalingrad where German forces were decimated by the Soviets after a year-long bloody fight. They are a motley tank crew that consists of Sergeant Willie Beier (aka Old Man), a family man who fears for the safety of his wife and child if he disobeys the Nazis, Corporal Joseph Porta, the team's fixer and a self-proclaimed communist who always tries to keep his spirits up whether through gambling, drinking or simple tomfoolery, Corporal Hugo Stege, Porta's "partner in crime", young Sven Hassel, a character based on real Sven Hassel, the writer of the novel that the movie was based on, Wolfgang Creutzfeldt (aka Tiny), a dimwitted and often violent giant of a man and Bauer, a silent but friendly ...

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

tank | army | train | red army | german | See All (56) »


This group of last round draft picks ... wouldn't take orders ... didn't dress in uniform ... couldn't win a battle ! But they were the biggest bunch of lunatics ever to roll into war !


Action | Adventure | Drama | War


R | See all certifications »



UK | Denmark



Release Date:

22 February 1988 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Wheels of Terror See more »

Filming Locations:


Company Credits

Production Co:

Panorama Film A/S See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Eastmancolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The film is based on Danish writer Sven Hassel's 1979 war novel "Wheels of Terror". Hassel was actually part of the German Panzerkorp during the war and most of his novels are based on his experiences or stories he heard during the war, although some dispute the veracity of his work. He always puts himself in the novels, sometimes as a major participant and sometimes as a minor observer. The character of Sven Hassel also appears in this novel and is played in the movie adaptation by Slavko Stimac. See more »


The fight between Tiny and the Legionnaire takes place in "Comrades of war" also the character of Freckles is not in the novel. See more »


Col. Von Weisshagen: I will send you ALL to the Eastern Front!
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User Reviews

War story of a Panzers regiment composed of Nazi prisoners to execute a dangerous mission behind enemy lines
25 March 2015 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Entertaining but average WWII film with lots of humor , battles , explosions , tongue-in-cheek action and sheer amusement ; being really a takeoff on ¨Dirty Dozen¨ style . Spectacular War film with a touch of irreverence about a reckless group of German soldiers , 27th Panzers , Hitler's heavy-duty combat regiment . As a group of inmates find themselves recruited into the military undertaking a dangerous mission behind enemy lines , as they sneak on Russian territory to get blowing-up a train . Exciting film with a truly silly formula about a misfit team led by Capt. Erich (D.W. Moffett) who carries out a suicide mission behind enemy lines . Captain Erich and Cpl. Joseph Porta (Bruce Davison) and their buddies are assorted criminals from a Nazi penal bunch . An equipment of two-fisted soldiers formed by a misfit band with egoistic aims are drafted to go on a near-suicide mission and attempt to explode some installation , on a zone occupied by the Soviets . As they are offered their freedom if they carry out a risked assignment : to destroy a train and subsequently survive . This strange , motley platoon is formed by hustler , anachronistic , lame-brained , and oddball characters ; the team and their tanks Panzer will take on tanks T 34 . ¨The misfit brigade¨ is an entertaining as well as amusing film with the ordinary squad of renegade soldiers of World War II . In the hands of hardboiled director Gordon Hessler and a tough-as-leather cast , that's all the plot that's needed to make one rip-roaring wartime flick . The mission is two-fold and in violent and cynical style : the selfish and mean group undergoing across a dangerous territory and executing hazardous feats , they then turn loose on Russsian territory where cause destruction . The first half of the film allows the colorful cast of character actors to have their fun as they get their tails whipped into shape and develop shaky relationship among them . The final part is all action, as the brave commando wreak havoc and then run for their lives . Despite the fact that most part of the "heroes" survive the bloodbath , the message here isn't that war is hell . Rather, it seems to be : war can be a hell of a good time... if you've got nothing to lose . This is a rugged WWII actioner concerning a squadron of dispensable characters with no past and no future and other rare roles .

The dangerous mission includes a selected group formed by a motley and varied but disreputable squadron played by notorious secondaries playing Privates who are an oddball , rag-tag and undisciplined gang . Bruce Davison as Cpl. Joseph assumes the character of commando leader in this regular wartime movie , being professional though middlingly directed by Gordon Hessler . This clichéd ¨Kelly's heroes¨, ¨Dirty Dozen¨ variation packs frantic thrills , lots of familiar faces , perilous adventures , lighthearted comedy , relentless feats , and buck-loads of explosive action . The noisy action is uniformly well-made, especially deserving of mention the rip-roaring scenes on the tanks battles , including some spectacular shootouts . Apart from the values of team spirit , cudgeled by D.W. Moffett into his rebel group , the film is full of feats , humor with tongue-in-check and thrills . Bruce Davison is good as leader of the motley pack together thwart the enemy schemes , as well as the largely secondary cast who has a lot a fun as David Patrick Kelly , Jay O Sanders , and cameos by Oliver Reed , David Carradine . The film is based on Danish writer Sven Hassle's 1979 war novel Wheels of Terror. In fact , it is Sven Hassle's second book, and takes more of a fictional slant over his first one . Hassle said the following : ¨ My books -and this Misfit brigade- are strictly anti-military. They correspond to my personal view of what I experienced. I write to warn the youth of today against war. I am writing the story of the small soldiers, the men who neither plan nor cause wars but have to fight them . War is the last arm of bad politicians¨ . Other works Sven wrote are : Novel "Legion of the Damned¨, ¨Comrades of War¨, ¨March Battalion¨ , ¨Assignment Gestapo¨, "Monte Cassino", ¨Liquidate Paris¨, among others .

Atmospheric and functional musical score as well as evocative cinematography . This is a wartime typical vehicle and into the ¨warlike commando genre¨ , in USA style which also belong the American classics from the 60s as : ¨Dirty Dozen (Robert Aldrich) , ¨The Kelly's heroes¨ (Brian G.Hutton) , ¨ Where eagles dare¨ (Brian G. Hutton) , ¨Tobruk¨ (Arthur Hiller), ¨Devil's Brigade¨ (Andrew V McLagen) and many others . The motion picture was ordinarily handled and professionally directed by Gordon Hessler, and achieved limited success and cash . His first feature film as a director was Catacombs (1965) . When production of the AIP Edgar Allan Poe series was shifted to Britain, Hessler collaborated with producer Louis Heyward and horror enthusiast/ screenwriter Christopher Wicking on three Poe films and on the sci-fi shocker : Scream and scream again , The oblong box and Murders in the Rue Morgue . Carrying on in the fantasy field, he also directed the Ray Harryhausen stop-motion swashbuckler Golden voyage of Sinbad (1973) and additional small-screen suspense : Scream, Pretty Peggy (1973) with Bette Davis . Of course , this ¨The misfit brigade ¨ in which added humor to the warlike action.

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