13
May
18

MAXIMILLIAN SCHELL IN SAM PECKINPAH’S CROSS OF IRON

600px-CrossOfIron_-_MP40_5PROJECT: Cross of Iron YEAR: 1977 INTRO: At this point, after Sam Peckinpah had been established as a legendary director, on set he wasn’t even sure what characters would die on which day’s filming: but two main characters really sets this anti-war World War II drama apart from all others… other than being on the sympathetic side of the German soldier… including TALENT: Maximilian Schell KNOWN FOR: The Black Hole, Judgement at Nuremberg. CHARACTER: Captain Hauptmann Stransky , S.S., German Army…

TRAITS: There’s one in every war film. A man in charge who isn’t supposed to be. It’s impossible not to mention James Coburn’s character, Steiner, lower in rank but with more experience: butting heads with Schell’s Stransky; the latter who wants to be a great war veteran without doing the kind of work Steiner’s already suffered through to get to this point: his end where Stansky pretentiously begins. GOAL: To attain the Iron Cross, the most coveted metal in the German Army.  URGENCY: That’s the hook of Stransky’s storyline, actually… His need for the titular medal cuts into what he’ll do to achieve it: while others move forward, risking their lives behind enemy lines in Russia, he… while having a very private (and merely implied) fling with a handsome corporal… stays behind the scenes with the man in charge, James Mason, who has a much different past as a man at war.

CLOSURE: One of the all time great endings makes this patchwork masterpiece by Peckinpah stand out: As the heat of the enemy troops move in at a deadly level, Coburn grabs Schell, taking him from inside to outside to whos, “Where the Iron Crosses Grow.” And it takes a great actor like Schell to bring such a giant weakling to life: sure he’s supposed to be hated, but he carries his own worth in how he only knows what he wants, and wants only what he’s afraid to achieve.

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Characters Studied in Film

Cult Film Freak presents Large Earth Disruption, founded by Jim Mullen Tate to cover not only characters in classic films but their motivation, meaning, urgency, pros, cons action, results, and purpose in each motion picture that they're either a positive or negative part of.

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