Die Galgenvögel

The Misfit Brigade (1987)

Kriegsfilm, Action, Drama | Großbritannien, Dänemark, Jugoslawien, Vereinigte Staaten

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In 1943, the Nazi Germany is suffering heavy losses at the Eastern Front and an order for all-out retreat is eventually issued. The 27th Penal Panzer Regiment, consisting solely of people convicted of various real or political crimes ranging from incest to dissidence, has just returned from Stalingrad where German forces were decimated by the Soviets after a year-long bloody fight. They are a motley tank crew that consists of Sergeant Willie Beier (aka Old Man), a family man who fears for the safety of his wife and child if he disobeys the Nazis, Corporal Joseph Porta, the team's fixer and a self-proclaimed communist who always tries to keep his spirits up whether through gambling, drinking or simple tomfoolery, Corporal Hugo Stege, Porta's "partner in crime", young Sven Hassel, a character based on real Sven Hassel, the writer of the novel that the movie was based on, Wolfgang Creutzfeldt (aka Tiny), a dimwitted and often violent giant of a man and Bauer, a silent but friendly individual convicted of murder. They are joined by Alfred Kalb (aka Legionnaire), a psychotic ex-member of the French Foreign Legion and a self-proclaimed Muslim, convicted of polygamy, an inexperienced teenage soldier nicknamed Freckles, convicted of incest with his stepsister and their new commander Captain Erich von Barring, a straight-laced understanding officer who hoped for a better position than the one he got, but does his job dutifully anyway. Since penal regiments are viewed as completely expendable, they are often sent on suicide missions. Sadistic Colonel Von Weisshagen decides to send the 27th Penal Panzer Regiment on one such mission behind the enemy lines of the Eastern Front to blow up a Soviet train that's carrying countless gallons of fuel for the Red Army vehicles and tanks. If successful, the unit could receive full pardon, the German army would get precious time to retreat and regroup and Von Weisshagen himself might receive an Iron Cross from a high-ranking general (Oliver Reed). But can they trust the top brass?


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