Cross of Iron

7.42 h 12 min1977R
This explosive WWII epic, directed by the master of action pictures Sam Peckinpah, centers on Corporal Steiner (James Coburn), an accomplished combat veteran leading a group of German soldiers on the Russian front. Steiner's authority comes under attack when Captain Stransky (Maximilian Schell) takes over command of his troops. The two military aces face off in an intense battle of wills.
Sam Peckinpah
James CoburnMaximilian SchellJames Mason
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
David Warner
Pat DugganLew GradeWolf C. HartwigLothar H. KrischerArlene SellersAlex Winitsky
Hen's Tooth Video
R (Restricted)
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4.4 out of 5 stars

2003 global ratings

  1. 69% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 15% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 9% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

LambertRecoveryReviewed in the United States on July 25, 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the greatest War Films of all time.
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Cross of Iron is the only war movie director Sam Peckinpah ever made, and it is a fantastic piece of cinema that will stay relevant for years to come. And the reason for that is because the battle scenes are all done with real actors and equipment. This film was made way before the development of CGI and it shows in the superb action sequences which are numerous. The film will also stand for generations to come because it depicts the greatest land conflict in history between two countries, Germany & Russia during WWII. Some will argue that the film has too many battle scenes but I do not hold that view. While it's a story about the Germans slow retreat from Russia, it focuses on a small company of german troups led by war weary Cpl Steiner played by James Coburn. Maximillian Schell plays Coburn's new Captain, an aristocratic prussian officer who seeks the Iron Cross that Coburn already possesses. James Mason is also present as the Colonel in overall command, who overlooks Steiner's insubordination because he is such a superb soldier in battle. The story goes that Peckinpah ran out of money to finish the film and that the ending was largely improvised by Coburn & Schell so the picture could be finished. You'd never know that by seeing the finished product and this has to go down as one of the finest war films ever made in my view.
78 people found this helpful
Richard MiddletonReviewed in the United States on April 11, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
If you loved the book, avoid this travesty
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The book on which this is alleged to be based is one of the great anti-war stories, a harrowing account of the sheer pointlessness and misery of the Russian front. I'm not going to try to recapitulate it; it's a book you should get and read. This movie abandons most of the story, and relies on lots of people being blown up, shot, or otherwise killed. The "hero", Steiner, is so shallow that he comes over more as grumpy rather than war-weary. James Mason does his best as the sympathetic colonel, but isn't given much to work with; it's hard to imagine him commanding troops in combat. Maximilian Schell is a caricature aristocratic coward. Steiner platoon never develops as the close-knit team described in the book. Peckinpah obviously loved having lots of toys to play with (I think this was his only war movie) and forgot that spectacle is no substitute for plot and character. In short, it's just plain awful.

As for people who attack the movie as glorifying the Nazis, I am baffled. Of all the officers and men only one is a staunch Nazi, and he is an outcast. The others mock Hitler's ambitions and the Thousand-Year Reich (though, inevitably, less eloquently than in the book).

As for the reviewer who described Region 2 format as "bull crap", I strongly recommend (a) reading the product description (b) getting a region-free DVD player and (c) avoiding pointless obscenities in reviews (or, in the case of this movie, reserving the obscenities for the movie itself rather than the format...).
11 people found this helpful
JDP Movie ReviewReviewed in the United States on April 29, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
Powerful Sam Peckinpah war movie
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Back in 1977, I saw this classic war movie in a Times Square movie theater while working at the Copacabana Discotheque. It was my day off. This movie blew me away; it was so original, powerful, unpredictable, and on a such a high level of artistic attainment (for a war movie) - I came back the next week and saw it again. Looking back now at Saving Private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, and We Were Soldiers - I can appreciate that a long time again I witnessed movie history for war movies with Cross of Iron. A masterpiece is like that: it comes out of the fire; it rises above other movies that are excellent but not quite as powerful; it reaches into the soul of the fighting men and speaks to their heroism, courage, sacrifice, and stamina - in battle, in combat, after surviving combat, after being delivered from trench warfare against a superior fighting force with tanks and machine guns; it stands tall as a mentor to the solid war movies that followed its artistic introduction to the world of movie goers. I have seen it many times since 1977; that old Times Square movie theater is probably long gone, but this movie lives on.
9 people found this helpful
Amazon CustomerReviewed in the United States on December 17, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Sam Peckinpah, Cross of iron perfection
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This is just remarkable. The film quality is just great. I also have the 2006 wide screen speicial edition, that DVD is pretty good too, but there was too much motion blur on a high def tv. The 2006 Henstooth version looks better on a standard analog tv. So I got the blue ray and I'm not disappointed, its so crystal clear but it still has the old 1977 saturated look to it, but just more clear. There is a very little slight motion blur at times but not nearly as bad as the 2006 DVD other wise the motion of the blu ray is tight and fluid. It looks so real it almost feels like you're there with Steiner, Brandt and Stransky, it feels like you could reach out touch them. When seeing blood and explosions it seems its gonna splatter in you're face.
It's the Japanese studio canal release I it plays in region A, in America which is where I live and its in english language. It plays in other regions too.
42 people found this helpful
John HurleyReviewed in the United States on June 27, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
One of the greatest films of all time
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Apparently the german people once considered this the greatest film ever made and i can see why, it's a great war film sure, it makes you think abit about the nature of war but my favorite part is that it covers something we only get to see VERY rarely anymore. Cross of Iron gives us the german viewpoint of the russian front and unlike almost all other films set during the war, does not outright demonize every single german. There are much better educated people than i am who can go on about the dramatic elements, the history and so on but personally i felt this gave me a mix of all my favorite things. It had just enough historical accuracy, action and storytelling in the same package to make an amazing film. No collection of war films is complete without it.
7 people found this helpful
Wayne KleinReviewed in the United States on August 11, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
Peckinpah’s only war movie takes a very different approach focusing on average Germans.
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Sam Peckinpah’s “Cross of Iron” was his only attempt at a war movie. The film benefits from strong performances of James Coburn and James Mason along with strong period detail and a compelling story. It isn’t his best movie but it remains a strong movie.

Of course Peckinpah took a unique approach to the subject; his film focuses on German infantry men fighting during the Russian campaign. Steiner (Coburn) and his men struggle to survive in a foreign land. He finds his decisions called into question by his new commander (Maximillian Schell) who believes the propaganda about how invincible the Germans are and focuses only glory.

Hen’s Tooth releases this using the same transfer as the UK release except it is considerably more compressed. It was skillfully authored so looks quite good in motion. The audio is quite good with English subtitles.

There are six featurettes on the making of the film as well as a stills gallery and an excellent commentary track with Stephen Prince who wrote an excellent book on Peckinpah. There’s also a 50 minute documentary on Peckinpah as well.

Although not his best film, “Cross of Iron” is a very good movie taking an unusual approach to a war movie. He focuses on the average German fighting in Russia against the odds.
2 people found this helpful
Christian P. MercerReviewed in the United States on June 14, 2015
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie rare viewpoint for a film
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Brutal anti-war movie from the bad guys point of view ( the protagonists are a German Wehrmacht Infantry Recon Platoon), but it is Peckinpahs only war movie and an excellant depiction of war on the eastern front ( Taman Peninsula 1943 ) James Coburn ( and really the whole cast) is excellent. The gear and uniforms are pretty accurate except for the T-34/85 Tanks the Russians use ( too early in the war it is pre 1944) probably some other stuff thats pretty minor as well. And well it is Peckinpah. Not a happy flag-waving movie at all. Not too happy of an ending either. But what did you expect. When I first saw this film many years ago I was of the opinion that in a contest between 2 loathsome factions ( Nazi's and communists) not really sad to see either side perish ( lots of perishing going on here), some of the characters are played as unwilling villains/dupes and some are less overtly evil than the usual goose-stepping SS drones that are the expected fare. I love this film for its intense intricate action scenes, parts are a bit slow, and maybe a bit bizarre and surreal at points as well, its not for everyone.
35 people found this helpful
Rich HoltzinReviewed in the United States on September 20, 2014
5.0 out of 5 stars
The Trepidation Of War Seasoned With A Dubious Morality Trying To Express Itself!
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Cross Of Iron is Peckinpah's only military-action film he directed. The thing is, if you're only going to do one such genre, then here the master director got it right from start to finish. For one thing, the narrative is unlike any war-time film. Any. It also sets the tone of something that reminded me of another epic German film: Das Boat. Hence, the antihero's voice is paramount (played by James Coburn). As a sergeant, he leads and inspires his men; he has the respect of his superior officers; he kills Russians and tries to save his men. But the Germans, at this point of that awful war, are rapidly losing ground in both senses. Men and officers know this, yet to their dubious credit, the Germans truly were tenacious in the Eastern Front engagement and they gave as good as they got. Filmed in 1977, Peckinpah does indeed live up to his reputation as one of the most graphic directors in the business (read, "the more blood and guts spilled, the better"). However, this is not gratuitous wartime violence. It is the real stuff of war, and in this movie, the narrative is juxtaposed with the sobering and somber reality of brutal slaughter with a psychologically disarming motif that questions the insanity of war. Although it is customary to compare movies and narratives, mentioning this great (or lousy) film as contrast or complimentary. I think this movie stands on its own pinnacle. There is a constant transfusion of horror and humanity, and a dubious morality that shrines through the, otherwise, darkness that war ushers in with its vociferous complaint spoken through weapons and artillery. But the main focus of the movie centers on a very quizzical German reconnaissance unit (led by Coburn) and the Colonel in charge of the front lines regiment, James Mason, who begins to see a major flaw in his favorite sergeant: Coburn does not like officers in the least and only fights because he is ordered to fight. Meanwhile, Maximilan Schell, who is the reconnaissance unit's commanding officer, has his eyes on the prize: winning the prestigious Cross of Iron. And here is the flash point that sets the stage for the captain's wake-up call what it takes to win the decoration, and the envy that he feels for others, like the sergeant, who already have theirs.
26 people found this helpful
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