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Cross of Iron (Special Edition) (1976)

Cast: James Coburn, James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, more...
Director: Sam Peckinpah, Sam Peckinpah
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Studio: Henstooth Video
Running Time: 132 min.
Languages: English, French
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A quote from Bertolt Brecht ends this bitter and angry war film by Sam Peckinpah: "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again." Peckinpah's intense and belligerently non-commercial work, (based on the book by Willi Heinrich), is a World War II tale told from the German perspective, following a platoon of German soldiers in the Russia of 1943, when the German Wehrmacht forces had been decimated and the Germans were retreating along the Russian front. James Coburn is Steiner, a German corporal and recipient of the Iron Cross who feels that he owes his loyalty to his family and fellow soldiers and not to Hitler and the German war machine. But when a new commander, Captain Stransky (Maximillian Schell), takes over the platoon, Steiner and Stransky come into immediate conflict. Stransky is a career soldier, the complete opposite of Steiner, who pledges himself heart and soul to Hitler and the war. But he envies Steiner for having been awarded an Iron Cross and deeply desires one himself. The problem is Stransky is a complete coward and recognizes that the only way he can be awarded an Iron Cross would be to get the bitter Steiner on his side. ~ Paul Brenner, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Yet another perfect film from Peckinpah by toddandsteph October 26, 2006 - 9:25 PM PDT
Cross of Iron: Whoa, baby! The 1970's must have been a great time to be a cinemagoer. Between this and Apocalypse Now, why the hell has anyone made a war movie since? This movie seriously has it all: Peckinpah at the absolute top of his game, James *beep* Coburn as the star, an absolutely fantastic supporting cast, and a great, intelligent script. The way this movie equates a soldier's intolerance for his cause and yet still allows us to understand why he's fighting is something really noteworthy (and not a surprising choice of theme, considering that the Vietnam War was still in the minds of almost all Americans). Coburn is absolutely fantastic here, being tough, tender, and everything that a Peckinpah man should be (the only one I've seen that fits as well in this universe is Holden). The battle scenes, predictably, are jaw-dropping, chockfull of brutality among some of the most beautiful cinematography you've ever seen. The scene near the end when Coburn unloads a full clip into one of the most bastards of bastards is absolutely horrifying yet so wonderfully done that you can't help but get giddy with the perfection of it all. I recently read an article by Paul Schrader about making a canon of motion pictures, and given his criteria, it's really a wonder that Cross of Iron didn't make the list because this really is a perfect movie. ***** out've *****

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 7.62)
8 Votes
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