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
The final closing coda is a quote from Bertolt Brecht: It states: "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." See more »
During Sgt Steiner's hospitalization for wounds, he yells from the hospital balcony to a driver below, "Corporal, hold that truck!" However, the rank insignia on the driver's shoulder straps clearly indicates that he is a Senior Sergeant.
The German soundtrack gets this detail right. The insignia on the man's shoulder boards show him to be the same rank as Steiner, a "Feldwebel". Steiner addresses him as such. See more »
If you like (anti-)war movies like All Quiet on the Western Front than this is a movie you shouldn't miss
I have to admit that I had some reserves about this movie before watching it. Although my mother told me this is one of her favorite war movies ever (yes I know, it may sound a bit strange, but we have the same taste for war movies), I also saw a rather bad score on IMDb (about 6.6 at the time). Well, now that I've seen it, I can only say that this movie will be in my top 5 of war movies. This movie shows war the way it actually is: dirty, deadly, tragic,... and with plenty of losers, but no winners. In this movie you won't find any glorification of fake patriotism or dying for a good cause that only politicians in their ivory towers seem to know. No, this movie shows the war in its purest and most horrifying form.
It brings us the story of Rolf Steiner, a veteran hardened by the war, who leads his men through every battle and dangerous situation, but who also takes care that they will survive the madness. Than a Prussian officer, who volunteered to leave the quiet, battle-free world of France for the real action in Russia, joins his fighting group. The man thinks of only one thing: to get an iron cross as fast as possible, so his family can be proud and shouldn't see him as a disgrace to their military tradition. This leads to a lot of problems between the two of course and gradually the tension cumulates until it explodes...
I don't know if the story is based on true facts, but the movie certainly gives a good idea of what the war at the Eastern Front was like, especially after the Germans had suffered a major loss in Stalingrad. They had to retread, but had to take care that they didn't get overwhelmed by the Soviet troops when doing so; a lot of the man had lost faith in victory; no prisoners were taken, but were shot at the spot; optimism had made place for cynicism ... It all feels very real and believable.
And the feeling of realism can also be found in the way of filming. Some might say Peckinpah experimented too much with slow-motion, hand-held camera's,... but personally I believe it only gives an extra dimension to this movie, giving it that extra touch that makes it different from so many mediocre Hollywood productions. I really liked the way he followed the action closely, making you feel like you are part of it yourself, but what really sparked my interest was the contrast between the child's voice singing a "happy" song and the images of the horrors of the war at the beginning and the end of the movie. That really made shivers go down my spine.
If I thought about anti-war movies, I always used to name the World War I classic "All Quiet on the Western Front" (the 1930 version as well as the remake from 1979), but from now on I'll have to add one extra movie: Cross of Iron. If you are a fan of realistic (anti-)war movies, than this is a movie you shouldn't miss. I give it a 9/10.
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