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 by coming up against a Russian tank. Steiner then takes a furlough to Paris just as the Allies launch their invasion of Normandy.
On paper, this ought to have been a belter. Andrew V. McLaglen being no stranger to grand scale cinema and a cast of Hollywood A-listers to deliver a story of wartime betrayal and courage. So what happened? Richard Burton dons a rather erratic German accent as the conspiring and rather hot-tempered sergeant "Steiner" who finds himself under the command of his own personal nemesis "Von Stransky" (Helmut Griem). Fortunately, for him, at the behest of his scheming general "Hofmann" (Curd Jürgens) he is despatched to try and make some sort of truce with the approaching allies at the height of the Wehrmacht's conspiracies to be rid of their Führer. Along the way he manages to help out American colonel "Rogers" (Robert Mitchum) but will that be enough to convince the sceptical "Gen. Webster" (Rod Steiger) that the approach isn't just a ploy to lure them into a trap, or buy more time, or both! Unfortunately, neither Burton not Mitchum are anywhere near their best here and though the director does his best to keep the film moving along with plenty of action and battle scenes, there are still too many flawed sub-plots, a weak and rather verbose script and multiple shallow characterisations to make the film flow well or engagingly. Steiger features much too sparingly to make much of a contribution and after about an hour I felt that I was watching an hybrid of half a dozen other, better, WWII adventures. I'm sure it was an useful payday for all concerned, but as a piece of cinema it's pretty disappointing.