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Cross Of Iron (Digitally Restored) [DVD] 
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Based on the novel by Will Heinrich, Sam Pekinpah’s (The Wild Bunch) only war film is an intense and uncompromising affair that brilliantly reflects both the futility of conflict and the director’s fascination with individuals confronted by events beyond their control.
A World War II tale told from the German perspective, Cross Of Iron follows a platoon of German soldiers in Russia when the German Wehrmacht forces had been decimated and the Germans were retreating along the Russian front. Rolf Steiner (James Coburn) is a German corporal and recipient of the Iron Cross who has grown disenchanted with Hitler’s war machine. When Captain Stransky (Maximillian Schell) assumes charge, the pair are thrown into immediate conflict, the autocratic but ultimately cowardly Stransky coveting the loyalty and honour Steiner commands.
Evocatively shot by John Coquillon (Billy the Kid) in sombre tones to emphasise the horrors of combat, the superlative lead performances are matched by David Warner and James Mason as war-weary senior officers. Viewed as one of Peckinpah’s most powerful works, it’s an unflinching vision of the Second World War.
- Cast and Crew Interviews
- Sam Peckinpah's War: documentary by Mike Siegel, featuring James Coburn, Senta Berger, David Warner, Vadim Glowna, Roger Fritz, Katy Haber & Sam Peckinpah
In Cross of Iron Sam Peckinpah weighs in on World War II from the German point of view. The result is as bleak, if not quite as bloody, as one expects from the director of The Wild Bunch, in part because this 1977 film was cut to ribbons by nervous studio executives. The assorted excerpts that remain don't constitute an exhilarating or even an especially thrilling battle epic. The war is grinding to a close, and veterans like James Coburn's Steiner are grimly aware that it's a lost cause. The battlefield is a death trap of sucking mud and barbed wire, and the German generals (viz., the martinet played by James Mason) seem to pose a bigger threat to the life and limbs of Steiner's men than the inexorable enemy. Not even Peckinpah's famous sensuous exuberance when shooting violence is much in evidence; the picture is a depressive, claustrophobically overcast experience. The bloody high (or low) point isn't a shooting; it's a wince-inducing de-penis-tration during oral sex. For a fun time with the men in (Nazi) uniform, try Das Boot instead. --David Chute, Amazon.com --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast give marvellous performances:
Maximilian Schell as Captain Stranszky perhaps steals the acting honours as a cowardly Prussian seeking the Iron Cross.
Coburn pushes him close as the officer hating Steiner.
In a supporting role an ageing James Mason gives a seemingly effortless demonstration of how doing very little can amount to a superb performance.
There are occasional lighter moments, but mostly this film is relentlessly grim. Even if you don't see their deaths, you know that all the characters will die.
Strangly though this is a film I want to watch again (and look forward to watching). This is because the main characters are so well drawn (and acted) and as I said above you don't see them all die.
In a typically perverse move Peckinpah ends the film on a moment of black comedy relating to Stranszky's incompetence; Steiner can't stop laughing. A great film.
Central to the plot are the two main characters, the well-bred but combat inexperienced Prussian military aristocrat Stransky ( played well by Max Schell ) a fellow with an invincibilty complex still believing in the unassailable superioty of the german soldier. He represents what would have been a high percentage of the officer corp in the Wehrmacht throughout World War 2. He feels he cannot return to Germany without the Iron Cross, which he intends to get by fair means or foul.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Blu ray version version, in this case the blu ray version is very good
Sound. And picture quality outstanding
This film is nigh on 40 years old
a... Read more
Excellent movie covering the German-Russia conflict in world war II. Well acted giving a realistic view of life on the eastern front, showing that the glamour of winning an iron... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Excellent film, well made well acted, well worth the money. The only minor fault is you had to change the audio to English every time you played it.Published 1 month ago by Andy
Sam Peckinpah's only war movie, maybe a bit less bloody than one would expect, but kinetic and engaging all the same. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Stanley Crowe
This is a back to front set-up. You have to select the subtitles first, Dutch, Portuguese or Spanish, then you select the audio, Spanish or English, so you have to have subtitles... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer