Steiner... is a myth. Men like him are our last hope... and in that sense, he is a truly dangerous man.
Probably my favourite Peckinpah film. Despite the slow-mo action, it leaves you with a profound distaste at any notions of glorification of, and honour in, war. This is leagues ahead of Spielhacker's broken-backed Saving Private Ryan. The marvellously toothsome James Coburn is Corporal/Sergeant Steiner, apparently the only German on the Russian Front holding anything together despite being utterly sickened and nullified by everything around him. It is his sense of duty to the men beneath him in his platoon that keeps him going.
Steiner nurses utter contempt for newly posted Captain Stransky (Maximillian Schell), who is only there to get bag an Iron Cross and thus impress his Prussian aristocrat family. Steiner only slightly less despises sympathetic officers James Mason and David Warner. Most of the rest of the cast is filled out with German actors.
Peckinpah pulls no punches in showing the insanity of war, which makes it by turns repellent and surreally funny. The film also finishes up a 10-odd year run of great roles for Coburn.
Some have speculated that the film ran out of money, hence the rather abrupt ending; the documentary on the Blu ray doesn't address this, although it goes into the financing problems in depth. It's clear the film was shot out of sequence, though, and that Peckinpah made the film he wanted to make. I rather like the ending, unsettling and sudden as it is.