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Cross of Iron (1977) Poster

(1977)

Trivia

Filmed in Yugoslavia with money put up by a West German porn producer.
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Orson Welles said this was the best war movie he had seen since All Quiet on the Western Front (1930). He appreciated that the story was shown from the viewpoint of an ordinary soldier.
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At forty-eight, James Coburn was widely felt to be too old to play Corporal Steiner. The man on whom his character was based, Johann Schwerdfeger, was only twenty-eight in the summer of 1943.
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The ending wasn't the original ending in the script. At the time, the movie had run out of money, so Director Sam Peckinpah got James Coburn to improvise.
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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.
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A sequel called Breakthrough (1979) followed two years later. Only a couple of lesser known actors from the first movie chose to return for the sequel. The better known actors chose not to play their parts again here, so they were replaced by new actors. James Coburn originally intended to play Steiner in the sequel, but then changed his mind and was replaced by an even older Richard Burton. Every returning character save for Steiner had a much smaller role in the sequel. The budget was smaller as well and the movie was generally received poorly by fans and critics alike.
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Robert Shaw turned down the part of Corporal Steiner after a dispute over money.
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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."
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Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn), as an officer at the hospital notes, "has been highly decorated." His awards: the Iron Cross 2nd Class, Iron Cross 1st Class, the Silver Wound Badge (three separate times wounded), the Infantry Assault Badge (combat in three separate battles) and the rare Gold Close Combat Bar.
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The Soviet soldiers' song is actually the Yugoslavian partisan song "Oj Kozaro".
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Maximilian Schell's (Captain Hauptmann Stransky's) stumbling by the railway track in the final scene was actually an on-set accident during filming and not scripted (Director Sam Peckinpah simply hadn't enough film left to retake the sequence).
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Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) carries a Russian PPSh-41 sub-machine gun originally chambered for 7.62x25 Tokarev, a round the Germans did not (officially) use, but the 41 was easily rebarrelled for a 9 millimeter parabellum round, which the Germans did use, and the weapon was, in fact, adopted by the Germans as the MP717(r). While the drum magazine worked with 9mm ammo, the Russian curved stick magazine did not. If the Germans chose to use stick magazines with this gun, they had to modify the magazine housing to accept German issue MP38/40 magazines. However, doing this would prevent the use of the drum magazines. So Steiner's weapon, therefore, may be in the original caliber, or may have been rebarrelled for 9mm parabellum, but had not been modified for German stick magazines.
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James Mason played a senior German officer who is faced with the scandal of an officer taking credit for the heroic deeds of a dead man. He faced the same scenario in The Blue Max (1966).
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This movie was based on the book "The Willing Flesh" (German: Das Geduldige Fleisch, 1955), a novel by Willi Heinrich.
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During Sergeant Rolf Steiner's (James Coburn's) stay at the hospital, he has a brief spell of hallucination due to his severe concussion. In that hallucination, a man's voice is heard speaking in German. The voice is that of Adolf Hitler from his September 1, 1939 speech announcing the invasion of Poland.
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Along with Straw Dogs (1971), this was the second of only two Sam Peckinpah movies to be filmed in England (though most of this movie was shot in Yugoslavia).
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Just after the last scene shooting, every crew member went away with his own luggage to take his train or plane home. The shooting was over, no wrap party. There was no more money to finish the movie.
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This is the only World War II movie directed by Sam Peckinpah.
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The pistol Captain Hauptmann Stransky (Maximilian Schell) draws to shoot the teenage Russian prisoner at the first meeting with Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) is a Model 1934 Beretta.
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According to James Coburn, Kris Kristofferson was going to have an unspecified small role in this movie, but had to drop out due to scheduling difficulties.
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In 1990, there were no more prints of this movie, only the video tapes on sale and rent. The producers sold the prints after the bankruptcy of their company.
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The German General who visits the hospital was dubbed by Robert Rietty.
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Director Sam Peckinpah used ninety thousand dollars from his own money so that technicians could be paid after the production financial problems.
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The camouflage jacket that Steiner wore was a padded reversible jacket with a Sumpfmuster 44 camouflage pattern, regularly wrongly named tan and water in the collecting circle.
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During the preparation of the movie, Director Sam Peckinpah and James Coburn went to London and Coblence to watch plenty of archives and propaganda footage from both camps: German, British, and even Russians. They concluded that each of those films were liars.
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Robert Aldrich was attached to a "Cross of Iron" project in the 1960s, which was written by Lukas Heller, but it was set in a prison camp.
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Closing credits: The story, all names, characters and incidents portrayed in this production are fictitious. No identification with actual persons, places, buildings and products is intended or should be inferred.
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One of the few movies from Sam Peckinpah that didn't involve Mexico.
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Robert Shaw and Director Sam Peckinpah had a meeting together to discuss the idea of Shaw being cast as Sergeant Rolf Steiner. Unfortunately, this didn't happen.
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