Cross of Iron (1977)

Cross of Iron is a compelling account of the realities of war and man's inhumanity to each other. It is set on the Eastern front during WW2 and centers on the conflict between Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It is told from the viewpoint of Germans on the Russian front in 1943.

This which was Sam Peckinpah's only war film has a distinquished cast including James Mason and James Coburn (as the reluctant hero Steiner). It was not the first anti-war film ever made but it was certainly the best up until that time. Other movies such as Platoon and Saving Private Ryan have derived inspiration for this film and the techniques Peckinpah employed such as the slow motion scenes of graphic violence.

James Mason give a superb performance as the ageing commanding officer faced to lead a group of doomed men through all the horrors of an all out retreat.

Cinema poster for the 1977 classic

Cross of Iron captures the true nature of War, there are no Hollywood heriocs just a War of attrition where there are no winners only losers. As the poet Berloth Brecht once remarked:

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


Cross of Iron (1977 UK/West Germany 119mins)

Source: NLA/CAC Prod Co: Anglo-EMI (London)/Rapid Film (Munich)/Terra Filmkunst (West Berlin) Prod: Wolf Hartwig Dir: Sam Peckinpah Scr: Julius J. Epstein and Herbert Asmodi, from the novel A Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich Phot: John Coquillon Ed: Tony Lawson, Mike Ellis Herbert Taschner Art Dir: Ted Haworth, Brian Ackland Snow Mus: Ernest Gold Sound: David Hildyard

Cast: James Coburn, Maximillian Schell, James Mason, David Warner, Senta Berger, Dieter Schidor, Klaus Lowitsch, Roger Fritz, Fred Stillkraut, Michael Nowka, Vadim Glowna, Veronique Vendell, Arthur Brauss, Burkhardt Driest, Mikael Slavco Stimac.