Newly added to StudioCanal Vintage Classic range and given a stunning 4K remastering, Sam Peckinpah’s Cross of Iron gets a fantastic new 4K Limited Edition UHD and Blu-ray release. Peckinpah passed on the chance to direct King Kong and Superman to make what has been frequently described as one of the most underrated war films ever. To be more accurate, Cross of Iron is very much an anti-war film that spares nothing in highlighting the horrors and casualties of war.
James Coburn leads the cast as Sergeant Steiner, the seasoned platoon leader of a band of German soldiers fresh from a successful mission. When Steiner meets his new commanding officer, Captain Stransky (Maximilian Schell), it quickly becomes apparent that all his underqualified new boss is after is to win the highest honour in the German army, the iron cross. As the two men lock horns over their difference of opinions, poor leadership from Stransky puts the lives of the platoon in jeopardy.
On the surface, Cross of Iron has all the hallmarks of a Sam Peckinpah picture; there’s a heap of action, a shocking amount of violence, and several scenes that are difficult to sit through. However, underneath that, we have a film that is the perfect metaphor for a fractured and ever-divided country, a class struggle that becomes a battle between ideologies, and the absolute corruption of innocence. Now, you don’t get much more Sam Peckinpah than that.
For a filmmaker that was synonymous with making Westerns and action movies, Cross of Iron was his first and only addition to the War genre, and it should have been an instant box-office smash. However, upon its original release in 1977 (a mere few months before a little movie called Star Wars landed), Cross of Iron was far far away from being a hit. Thankfully, time has changed that, and it served as a significant influence for Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, and the recent Oscar-winning remake of All Quite on The Western Front has brought a new audience to what remains Peckinpah’s most underrated work.
At over 45 years old, Cross of Iron has lost none of its impact and remains a bold, unflinching look at the many horrors of war.