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Cross of Iron

( 12 )

Overview

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 ...
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Overview

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, and a man 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.
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Special Features

Audio commentary by Stephen Prince, author of "Savage Cinema: Sam Peckinpah and the Rise of Ultraviolent Movies"; photo gallery of German lobby cards; original theatrical trailer.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
Sam Peckinpah's only war film has intensity and action to spare, but sadly lacks the consistency and scope of classics like The Wild Bunch. The best feature of Cross of Iron is its stellar cast. James Coburn keeps Steiner from becoming a macho cliché by investing him with a tormented soulfulness, Maximillian Schell hits the right blend of snobbery and sociopathic deviousness as the autocratic Stransky and David Warner and James Mason give the film a touch of humanity with their work as a pair of war-weary senior officers. Despite an obvious low budget, John Coquillion's skillful cinematography finds the visual poetry in the film's grimy locations and Ernest Gold enhances the film's grandeur with a grand orchestral score that is both haunting and rousing. Finally, Sam Peckinpah uses his trademark editing techniques to create a series gut-wrenching set pieces; highlights include a scene where Steiner and his men ambush a Russian unit by posing as prisoners of war and a haunting scene where Steiner is tormented by hallucinations in a veteran's hospital. The problem with Cross of Iron is that it shows all the clear signs of being made in a rush. The roughly hewn script periodically loses focus, the varying accents of the international cast seldom match, and the battle scenes suffer from a lack of scope due to the film's much-publicized budget woes. Worst of all, the film abruptly ends in a cryptic and unexpected manner that suggests the filmmakers lacked the funds or time to shoot a proper finale. Despite all these annoying flaws, Cross of Iron is a worthwhile if inconsistent effort that offers enough solid moments for Peckinpah enthusiasts thanks to the commitment of its filmmakers and cast.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 4/18/2006
  • UPC: 759731410229
  • Original Release: 1976
  • Rating:

  • Source: Henstooth Video
  • Region Code: 1
  • Presentation: Special Edition / Wide Screen
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:12:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 12,127

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
James Coburn Sgt. Steiner
Maximilian Schell Capt. Stransky
James Mason Col. Brandt
David Warner Capt. Kiesel
Klaus Löwitsch Kruger
Roger Fritz Lt. Triebig
Vadim Glowna Kern
Fred Stillkrauth Schnurrbart
Burkhardt Driest Maag
Dieter Schidor Anselm
Michael Nowka Dietz
Veronique Vendell marga
Arthur Brauss Zoll
Slavko Stimac Mikael
Senta Berger Sister Eva
Technical Credits
Sam Peckinpah Director
Herbert Asmodi Screenwriter
Bert Batt Asst. Director
John Coquillon Cinematographer
Michael Ellis Editor
Julius J. Epstein Screenwriter
Ernest Gold Score Composer
James Hamilton Screenwriter
Wolfgang Hartwig Producer
Edward S. Haworth Production Designer
Ted Haworth Cinematographer
Walter Kelley Screenwriter
Helmut Klee Special Effects
Tony Lawson Editor
Richard Richtsfeld Special Effects
Arlene Sellers Producer
Herbert Taschner Editor
Alex Winitsky Producer
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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Cross of Iron
1. Start [9:01]
2. Captain Stransky [12:46]
3. A Bitter Introduction [15:30]
4. Too Quiet [10:01]
5. Shell Shock [10:46]
6. Back to the Front [8:24]
7. Fighter Attack [12:13]
8. Tank Assault [13:11]
9. Behind Enemy Lines [12:37]
10. The Long Return [10:39]
11. Demarcation [14:57]
12. End Credits [2:07]
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Menu

Disc #1 -- Cross of Iron
   Play Film
   Chapters
   Features
      Original Theatrical Trailer
      Commentary/Languages
         Stephen Prince Commentary
         English Soundtrack
         French Soundtrack
      Lobby Card Gallery
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(3)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(0)

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    'Man's nature is to rule and to be free!'

    It takes guts for a film director to make a WWII film from the German perspective, but Peckinpah had plenty and pulled it off quite well. The setting is in Crimea during the 1943 Russian counter offensive against retreating German troops. German forces are demoralized after the 6th Army's collapse and complete surrender at Stalingrad. The German's main objective now is retreat and survival, not expanding the Aryan culture and master race. Sgt. Steiner (James Coburn) is a complex character and the paradox of the ideal soldier. He hates the rigid hierarchy of military order but is the best fighting man on the field 'Do you know how much I hate this uniform and everything it stands for?' Keeping his men safe is his main concern and he could care less about the war or the party's ideology. In addition to worrying about the evermore certain Russian counter offensive, Steiner is under the command of a glory hunting Prussian 'Junker' aristocrat(Maximillian Schell)who will stop at nothing to get his share of glory before the war wraps up. Too cowardly to earn his iron cross with courage, he tries to manipulate Steiner and others to vouch for his false claims of courageous deeds. When Steiner refuses, Stransky stops at nothing to make sure he disappears. This is a typical blood and guts, man's world, do or die, Penckinpah movie (e.g. 'The Wild Bunch', 'Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia). Although Peckinpah emphasizes on the horror and futility of war, the film's portrayal of the human condition is quite cynical. Peckinpah seems to suggest that war, as horrid as it is, is a fundamental part of human nature and that such a reality is unlikely to change any time soon. This theme is reflected in dialogue such as Q: 'What will we do when we lose this war?' A: 'Prepare for the next one' or Q: 'Do you love the war so much? Or are you afraid of what you will become without it?'. Another great line: Q: 'Do you think there's a god Steiner?' A: 'I think God is a sadist but probably just doesn't realize it.' The movie is older and has limitations in film quality but it is very well directed. If you like action, this is a movie to watch.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Peckinpah in the East

    America won the war in Europe with the D-Day invasion in June, 1944, with a little help from her allies. So goes the too often portrayal of the European phase of WWII in the movies and documentaries. In fact, by June 1944, the issued had already been decided, after 3 years of vicious, brutal fighting on the Russian Front. The Russian Front turned out to be a perfect fit for Director Sam Peckinpah. His violent portrayal of the Old West probably exceeded true history. No such problem in this film. Peckinpah found the perfect medium for his style of movie making. The scene is the German retreat from the Caucasus in 1943. A difficult retreat in the wake of the increasingly resurgent Soviet army. They are all here, the awesome German machine guns, horrific Russian artillery barrages, massed infantry and tank attacks, the casual indifference of driving over the dead, even one's own. The tank scenes with the Russian T-34/85 are among the best tanks scenes of any war movie, including Russian propaganga movies. They include unique interior shots of the T-34 and the T-34 steamrolling concrete obstacles, breaching trenches and smashing through buildings. Any yes, the T34/85 tank wasn't produced until 1944. But the actual T34/76 of the period are rare. Peckinpah is to be congratulated for making the movie as historically correct as possible without breaking the bank. The cast is solid with veterans, James Mason, James Coburn, David Warner and Maximilian Schell. Strongly recommended and unexpectedly for such a violent movie, one of the strongest statements ever made against war.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great movie -- Terrible DVD

    I don't understand how a movie of this caliber can be allowed to exist in such a poor state on DVD. The Hen's Tooth Video edition is just a transfer of the VHS version. It looks terrible -- i.e. not even decent VHS quality. I hope that the Warner Bros. UK release makes it to North America as it would greatly improve the experience of this film. Pekinpah deserves some respect, Hen's Tooth!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Great Movie

    not for all, because you have to be interested in the 2nd World War, but Great story and ending phase. Also 1 inconsistancy, the aircraft that fire at the platoon are american corsair. They are pacific ocean aircraft, other than that, Great movie!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 23, 2014

    Stransky was a Prussian aristocrat and had NOT pledged himself h

    Stransky was a Prussian aristocrat and had NOT pledged himself heart and soul to Hitler. He had been stationed in France, but asked (temporarily) to go to the Russion Front for the purpose of getting an Iron Cross. Erroneous overview aside, this is a very good movie.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Cross of Iron, a must see for fans of War Films

    A friend of mine came to me with this movie after we saw James Coburn in Duck, You Sucker! a.k.a. A Fistful of Dynamite. We watched it curious as to what the film would center on and how authentic of a World War 2 movie it would be. After viewing them movie there is almost nothing wrong with this movie, the actors are great, the scenes are amazing, the plot pulls you in so much that you begin to feel for these soldiers. The moments of war seem almost realistic in comparison to other classic war movies. I would definitely recommend this movie if you are interested in War Movies and World War 2, also if you saw Saving Private Ryan and enjoyed that i feel you will enjoy this almost as much if not maybe more.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A reviewer

    At the Nuremberg Trials in 1946, Goerring said, and I am summing it up, there is no such thing as a warlike people only warlike leaders. To stifle oppostion all you have to do is question their patriotism. That said, "Cross of Iron" captures what is going through the mind of every soilder in combat: Staying alive, looking out for their comrades, and making it back home. At the end of the film there still photographs which are accurate, but I think they are placed there to keep sympathy for the German soilder from being to great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2003

    not true to the book

    There were technical flaws in the movie. For example, in the book, Steiner belongs to a Gebirgsjaeger Division, refer to a passage in the book, 'alpine caps with the edelweiss insignia'. In the film,they were depicted that they belong to an ordinary infantry 'heer' unit. Also in the book, Steiner is described as a man of about 25 years of age. I hope that there would be a remake of this film that would be true to the book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A tragic Ripoff

    Leave it to the Japanese to do a better job in the DVD release of this epic WW2 film. It deserves much better than the poor VHS quality pan and scan vserion of this DVD by Hens Tooth. Both the Japanese release and the European release from Warner Brothers treat this film with the respect it deserves with a widescreen 1.85 crystal clear(at least compared to this job) picture and sound.Try renting the video and save your money for a future release in the way this film deserves to be done.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Platoon - WW 2 Russian Front Style

    A difficult film for most audiences to warm up to because the story is told from the German soldier's point of view. Great performances by James Coburn, Maximillian Schell & James Mason. Militarists, self-serving career ticket punchers, Prussian aristocrats & hard-case Nazis all get slammed. The viewer will develop some sympathy for the plight of the common soldier, even if he was in the service of the 3rd Reich. Interesting characters, engrossing story, accurate military uniforms equipment & exciting battle scenes make this a riveting movie. No bad technical flaws to detract from the enjoyment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 5, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews