at the time as one of the strongest
anti-war films ever made, Sam Peckinpahs
1977 film Cross Of Iron, about a Prussian
aristocrat who will stop at nothing to get the
ultimate German medal while in charge of
a platoon on the Tamar Peninsula in 1943,
has just been digitally restored and
is available on Blu-ray for the first time...
ARROGANT, SNOBBISH, SLY AND MANIPULATIVE, wealthy Prussian aristocrat Stransky
(Maximilian Schell) becomes the new commander of a reconnaissance platoon fighting
on the Russian front during World War II, led by the unconventional and heroic
Sergeant Rolf Steiner (James Coburn).
Steiner takes an instant dislike to the pompous and self-serving Stransky, who
insists that no Russian prisoners are to be taken and orders the disposal of
a young Russian boy, whom the platoon has taken under its wing.
There is an ultimate ambition that Stransky wants to fulfil and he is determined
to reach it, whatever the cost. Obsessed with returning home with an Iron Cross
and a distinguished war record, he will use blackmail, charm, lies and even
a deadly betrayal in order to get it.
The Prussian falls foul of the courageous Steiner when he tries to take the
credit for leading a counter-attack to draw the Russians out of their positions,
which could result in him being awarded the Iron Cross. However, Steiner knows
that it was Lt Meyer who led the attack but he lost his life during the fighting
and Stransky wrong-foots himself when he names Steiner as one of his witnesses.
He has not reckoned on the righteous Steiner, who will not back his lies. The
two men, from entirely different backgrounds, cannot see eye-to-eye on many
issues; but it is this stand-off that brings Stransky to breaking point.
He decides to withhold an order to fall back from their position, leaving Steiner's
platoon surrounded by Russian troops and suffering heavy bombardment. Is this
the end for Steiner, leaving the way clear for Stransky to receive the Iron
The ending of the film is very interesting, if somewhat ambiguous. A thoroughly
enjoyable movie, well acted and with plenty of action; Cross Of Iron
has to rate as a must-watch for war film fans or followers of the wonderful
James Coburn and Maximilian Schell.
Heralded as the strongest anti-war war film ever made, Cross of Iron
has been described as a bloody and thought-provoking depiction of the horrors
of war. Sam Peckinpah has served as an inspiration for everyone from Tarantino
to Kathryn Bigelow and Cross Of Iron makes a very sound impression as
a brilliant film with some fantastic dialogue between the two lead characters.
Love interest comes in the form of the delightful Senta Berger as Eva, a nurse.
Arlene Sellers and Alex Winitsky present Cross of Iron that also features:
David Warner; Klaus Löwitsch; Vadim Glowna; Roger Fritz; Dieter Schidor; Burkhard
Driesl; Fred Stillkraut; Michael Nowka; Veronique Vendell as Marga; and Arthur
Brauss as Zoll.
Music Composed and Conducted by Ernest Gold; Director of Photography is John
Coquillon; Screenplay is by Julius Epstein and Walter Kelley and James Hamilton;
Based on the novel by Willi Heinrich; Produced by Wolf C Hartwig; and Directed
by the great Sam Peckinpah.
Sam Peckinpah's Cross Of Iron was
filmed in 1977, starring James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason, David
Warner and Senta Berger and has been digitally restored to be released on Blu-ray
for the first time on 6 June 2011.
Blu-ray Technical Specifications: Certificate: 18 | Total Running Time: 127
Minutes Approximately | B&W PAL | English and German Language | Catalogue No:
OPTBD0627 | RRP: £19.99.
All New Passion & Poetry: Sam Peckinpah's War (46:00), A Documentary
by Mike Siegel featuring James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, Senta Berger, David
Warner, Vadim Glowna, Roger Fritz, Katy Haber & Sam Peckinpah | Five featurettes
with 1976 on-set audio interviews: Sam Peckinpah (5:06); James Coburn (5:30);
James Mason (6:05); Maximilian Schell (4:35); David Warner (3:14) | Featurette
Kruger Kisses Kern (8:27) | Letters from Vadim & Sam Featurette (3:48) | Vadim
& Son: Son & Dad Featurette (5:55) | Cutting Room Floor Featurette (4:19) |
Mike's Home Movies Featurette: Steiner Meets Kiesel Again (7:16) | Steiner In
Japan (2-3 Minutes) | Before & After Restoration Comparison | German Trailer
(3:10) | USA TV-Spot (0:30) | USA/UK Trailer (3:42).
"A thoroughly enjoyable movie, well acted and with plenty of action; Cross
Of Iron has to rate as a must-watch for all war film fans or followers of
the wonderful James Coburn and Maximilian Schell"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar