In 1864, due to frequent Apache raids from Mexico into the U.S., a Union officer decides to illegally cross the border and destroy the Apache, using a mixed army of Union troops, Confederate POWs, civilian mercenaries, and scouts.
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
According to actor Vadim Glowna, Director Sam Peckinpah drank four whole bottles of whiskey or vodka during every day of shooting while sleeping approximately only three or four hours per night. See more »
The Russian tanks used in this movie are T34s with the 85 mm gun which were not in production at the time of the movie. T34s with the 76 mm gun would be the right choice, but there were not many left and quite a few countries still had T34/85s when the movie was made, so the wrong tank was used. See more »
I can't add much to these reviews except to comment that I've found this film to be a great favourite among real soldiers. I once got to deliver the classic line to a Major and a Captain about hating all officers. Luckily(?) they knew I was quoting from the film!
I'm not bothered about the assortment of accents in the cast (that others have mentioned). It seems to me that if you believe in their situation and have immersed yourself in the film, as it was easy for me to do, then you don't even notice them after a while. I would argue that the cast (in terms of dialogue) in Private Ryan is far more of a problem, since these seem to be 1990s guys transported back to 1944 and are far too 'knowing'. Moreover, in Private Ryan I kept stepping back from the film feeling that I was simply being manipulated by the director. COI is far more chilling. I really liked (if that's the word) a scene where an artillery explosion killed both Germans and Soviets. Kind of emphasises the 'war is hell' message without preaching or being manipulative.
I think Steiner is one of the greatest military characters ever to appear on film (for what its worth, Gregory Peck as Savage in Twelve O'Clock High, and Jeff Daniels as Chamberlain in Gettysburg are also up there). I must say I didn't really like the ending, but I can't suggest a better one, but as an alternate "ending" I would certainly recommend that people *do not* see the awful sequel 'Sergeant Steiner' with Richard Burton(!) as Steiner.
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