CROSS OF IRON

year: 1977
cast: James Coburn, James Mason, Maximilian Schell, David Warner
rating: *****

Follows a war-weary German corporal named Steiner, played wonderfully by James Coburn, who goes up against a pretentious commander played by Maximilian Schell, who wants nothing more than a cross of iron: a symbol of bravery in battle. And Schell, hiding in a bunker giving orders from under a table during attacks, will do anything to get one... that is, except fight. A scene involving Coburn's character suffering hallucinations after getting a concussion is perhaps the most incredibly edited scene in film history. There is plenty of action and a ton of Bloody Sam's famous slow-motion deaths, but what really stands out are the characters, dialog, and overall theme: that war is hell. This is Sam Peckinpah's last true classic film. He did so much with so little money. The mark of a true, legendary genius.

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