Arlecchino Cinema > 21:30


Sam Peckinpah


Monday 26/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

In the winter of 1975 Peckinpah met with two of Hollywood’s most successful independent  producers,  Dino De Laurentiis and Ilya Salkind. De Laurentiis asked him to direct his megabudget remake of King Kong… and Salkind offered him Superman… Finally, he turned down both movies. He  needed a project he could sink his teeth into, a story, characters, and a human dilemma he cared deeply about… Wolf Hartwig, a German purveyor of softcore pornography films, yearned to break into legitimate features. He sent Peckinpah a copy of Cross of Iron, a novel about a platoon of German soldiers caught in the Battle of Krymskay in 1943 as Hitler’s Russian front, and his thousand-year Reich, teetered on the verge of complete collapse.
From his very first screenplay, The Dice of God, through Major Dundee, Villa Rides, and The Wild Bunch, Peckinpah had explored the psychological landscape of the professional fighting man. Here for the first time was an opportunity to deal with the subject in the context of a modern war, of Nazi Germany, where the male madness of fervid nationalism led the human race to the brink of self-annihilation…
When Cross of Iron was released in Europe in the spring of 1977 it received rave reviews. It became the biggest-grossing picture in Germany and Austria since The Sound of Music and won a Bambi, one of Germany’s most prestigious performing-arts awards. The reception in America was the polar opposite. The public wasn’t interested in a World War II movie that cast the Germans in a sympathetic light and ended on such a bleak and nihilistic note, and most critics had already written Peckinpah off as little more than a hack with a flair for action sequences. Most reviews were either dismissive or hostile…
But there was at least one American who liked Cross of Iron. Sometime after its release, Orson Welles sent Peckinpah a telegram praising it as the finest antiwar movie he’d ever seen.

David Weddle

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal romanzo omonimo (1956) di Willi Heinrich. Scen.: Julius Epstein, Sam Hamilton, Walter Kelley. F.: John Coquillon. M.: Mike Ellis, Tony Lawson. Scgf.: Brian Ackland-Snow, Ted Haworth. Mus.: Ernest Gold. Int.: James Coburn (Rolf Steiner), Maximilian Schell (capitano Stransky), James Mason (colonnello Brandt), David Warner (capitano Kiesel), Senta Berger (Eva), Roger Fritz (tenente Triebig), Igor Galo (tenente Meyer), Fred Stillkrauth (caporale Schnurrbart), Arthur Brauss (Zoll), Klaus Löwitsch (Krüger). Prod.: Wolf C. Hartwig per EMI Films, Itc Entertaiment, Rapid Films. DCP. Col.