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Cross Of Iron 1977 ***

Julius J Epstein (Casablanca) was amongst the writers for Sam Peckinpah’s adult drama set in the dying days of the Eastern Front during WWII. James Coburn’s war-weary Sgt Steiner stands up against Captain Hauptmann (Maximilian Schell), with James Mason and David Warner watching from the side-lines. Adapted from the book The Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich, Peckinpah’s film has plenty of gritty tank, snow and mud action, balanced against some articulate discussion of the motivations for war.  Steiner returned in a sequel, Breakthrough, as played by Richard Burton, but Coburn makes the role his own in this bitter, accomplished anti-war film.


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