Breakthrough (1979 film)

Last updated
Breakthrough FilmPoster.jpeg
Directed by Andrew V. McLaglen
Produced byWolf C. Hartwig
Herbert Lukowski
Written byPeter Berneis / Tony Williamson
Starring Richard Burton
Robert Mitchum
Rod Steiger
Michael Parks
Curd Jurgens
Helmut Griem
Klaus Löwitsch
Music by Peter Thomas
Palladium Film
Rapid Film
Distributed by Constantin Film
Maverick Pictures International (US)
Release date
Running time
111 minutes (German version)
115 minutes (English version)
CountryWest Germany
LanguageGerman / English

Breakthrough, also released as Steiner - Das Eiserne Kreuz, 2 and Sergeant Steiner [1] is a 1979 war film set on the Western Front, specifically the Normandy coastline. [2] The picture is an unofficial sequel to Sam Peckinpah's Cross of Iron , and includes several characters from that film.


The film starred several big names including Richard Burton, Robert Mitchum and Rod Steiger. Burton (Sergeant Steiner) and Helmut Griem (Major Stransky) assume the roles played by James Coburn and Maximilian Schell respectively in the original film. The supporting cast features Michael Parks and Curd Jürgens. Klaus Löwitsch is the only actor from Cross of Iron to reprise his role.


Starting in late May 1944, during the German retreat on the Eastern Front, Captain Stransky (Helmut Griem) orders Sergeant Steiner (Richard Burton) to blow up a railway tunnel to prevent Russian forces from using it. Steiner's platoon fails in its mission after coming up against a Russian tank. He then takes a furlough to Paris just as the Allies launch their invasion of Normandy.

Steiner's unit is transferred to France, occupying the village of St Bologne. General Hoffman (Curd Jürgens) orders Steiner to cross into nearby enemy territory and confer with American Colonel Rogers (Robert Mitchum) and General Webster (Rod Steiger), informing him that the High Command of the German Army (Wehrmacht) is plotting to assassinate Hitler and would like to surrender. The plan fails and American forces launch an attack on German forces in St Bologne where Stransky has planned an explosion to destroy both the Americans and the civilian inhabitants.


Unofficial sequel reception and criticism

Breakthrough was mostly financed by West German producers when it was released in 1979, after several changes were made to the sequel: for instance,the action was relocated from Russia to the Western Front and Richard Burton replaced Coburn as Sgt Steiner. The film was panned by critics, who identified a confusing plot, poor dialogue, an aged cast and undistinguished acting. [3] They further point out that it is not 100% faithful to Cross of Iron because it does not follow the correct timelines nor make any sense, since Stransky was already wounded and left for dead and Steiner goes missing in action in the previous film. Also, the film depicts the duties of officers being performed by enlisted men and the duties of enlisted men being performed by officers.

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  1. Steiner - Das eiserne Kreuz, 2. Teil (Sergeant Steiner) (Breakthrough) (1980) , retrieved 2019-06-25
  2. Fyne, Robert. (2008). Long ago and far away : Hollywood and the Second World War. Lanham, Md.: Scarecrow Press. ISBN   9780810861244. OCLC   183179610.
  3. "Review:BREAKTHROUGH (1979) aka SERGEANT STEINER". Retrieved 2011-04-07.