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
Although dozens of rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns are fired during the movie, in only one instance are spent cartridge cases shown to be ejecting during firing (this occurs near the end of the film, as Sgt Steiner is firing a captured Russian submachine gun at Lieutenant Treibig). See more »
In the End Credits in the North American BETA/VHS & DVD versions of the movie "Cross of Iron"(1977), there is the following quote: "Don't rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world stood up and stopped the bastard, The bitch that bore him is in heat again." Bertolt Brecht See more »
Two versions were also released in Germany, running 122 and 133 min. See more »
(German Military March) See more »
Gritty Realistic WWII Drama
"Cross of Iron" was Sam Peckinpah's only war movie. It deals with a company of German soldiers retreating through Russia at the close of Hitler's ill-fated Russian campaign. Unusual for a war film, the story is told from the German point of view. Being a Peckinpah film there are explosions and blood-spurting bodies a-plenty. The rough terrain and cramped quarters that the soldiers have to deal with lend well to the declining German fortunes in Russia. As in his other films, notably "The Wild Bunch", Peckinpah utilizes his now famous slow-motion technique to illustrate the violence and show the effects of the destruction. James Coburn stars as the battle wise Sgt. Steiner who has survived the war thus far by his wits. Maximillian Schell plays his aristocratic Captain whose main goal is the pursuit of the Iron Cross, Germany's highest decoration and who will go to any lengths to get it. James Mason is the Company commander and David Warner is his adjutant. Coburn is excellent in the lead who continues to do his duty in spite of the inevitability of impending defeat. Schell is suitably ambitious and cunning as the chief villain and Mason and Warner convey the hopelessness of the situation while maintaining stiff upper lips. "Cross of Iron", in it's uncut version (132 minutes) ranks as one of the greatest of all WWII films in my opinion. One of Peckinpah's best.
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