Original Australian Daybill movie poster. Cross of Iron is a British-German 1977 war film directed by Sam Peckinpah, featuring James Coburn, Maximilian Schell, James Mason and David Warner. The film is set on the Eastern Front in World War II during the Soviets' Caucasus operations against the Wehrmacht's Kuban bridgehead on the Taman Peninsula in late 1943.The film focuses on the class conflict between a newly arrived, aristocratic Prussian officer who covets winning the Iron Cross and a cynical, battle-hardened infantry NCO. The screenplay was based on the 1956 novel The Willing Flesh by Willi Heinrich, a fictional work that may be loosely based on the true story of Johann Schwerdfeger.Exteriors were shot on location in SFR Yugoslavia. They are notable for using a significant number of authentic tanks and equipment.