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Cross of Iron

From Academic Kids

Cross of Iron is a 1977 film directed by Sam Peckinpah and starring James Coburn, James Mason, Maximilian Schell, and David Warner. Set in 1943 on the Eastern Front of World War II, the story revolves around conflicts that arise within the leadership of a Wehrmacht regiment during the German withdrawal from the Taman Peninsula on the Soviet Crimea upon the arrival of Stransky (Schell), an ambitious, aristocratic officer who covets the Iron Cross. This brings him into conflict with the battle hardened platoon leader Steiner (Coburn).

The film was an Anglo-German production (Anglo-EMI Productions Ltd., London and Rapid Films GmbH, Munich), and drew some criticism for casting in the roles of the lead characters - all of which are German officers - two English actors (Mason and Warner), one American (Coburn), and an Austrian (Schell).

As with most of Peckinpah's films, the on-screen action includes a substantial amount of very realistic combat utilizing his characteristic slow motion gunshot scenes.

The movie was based on the book The Willing Flesh, written by Willi Heinrich and published in 1956. More recent prints of the book are been titled Cross of Iron to tie in with the film. There are several major differences between the two versions which are tackled by the following articles [1] (http://www.wargamer.com/articles/cross_of_iron/)[2] (http://www.wargamer.com/articles/cross_of_iron_2/)[3] (http://www.wargamer.com/articles/cross_of_iron_3/).

The film is particularly notable for the strange opening credits, in which scenes of Hitler Youth climbing mountains are contrasted with the horrors of war, over which German children are heard singing the song Kinderleid.

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