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Brass Target
File:Brass Target FilmPoster.jpeg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJohn Hough
Written byFrederick Nolan (novel)
Alvin Boretz
Produced byBerle Adams
Arthur Lewis
StarringSophia Loren
John Cassavetes
George Kennedy
Robert Vaughn
Max von Sydow
Music byLaurence Rosenthal
Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Distributed byMGM/UA
Release date
  • December 22, 1978 (1978-12-22)
Running time
111 min.
CountryUnited States
Box office$5,111,000 (domestic)

Brass Target is a 1978 American post-World War II suspense film, based on the novel The Algonquin Project by Frederick Nolan,[1] that was produced by Berle Adams & Arthur Lewis and directed by John Hough.[2] It stars Sophia Loren, John Cassavetes, Robert Vaughn, George Kennedy, Patrick McGoohan, and Max von Sydow.[3]

Brass Target revolves around the actual historical event of Gen. George S. Patton's German automobile crash that later proved fatal. The film suggests it was not an accident but a conspiracy.


The story opens in Europe days after VE Day. General Patton (Kennedy), orders that gold reserves held by the former Reichsbank be transported to Frankfurt, but before the shipment arrives in the city, the gold train is robbed and its 59 US Army MP guards are killed with poison gas in a railroad tunnel. It's then revealed that a group of corrupt American officers, led by a colonel (Vaughn), is behind the crime. The investigation, started by Patton, initially leads to OSS Major Joe De Luca (Cassavetes). It seems the robbers used his plan from one of his wartime operations to steal the gold.

This prompts De Luca to start his own investigation. His first stop is to see his old wartime commander, Colonel Mike McCauley (McGoohan), who is now living in a requisitioned German castle. Meanwhile, as the investigation gets closer, the corrupt American officers hire Webber (Sydow), a professional assassin, to kill Patton in the hope of halting the inquiry.

Soon De Luca meets Mara (Loren), a former girlfriend, who can help him find the culprits. But before they can do that, they discover Webber is on their trail and also planning to kill Patton. The pair then race against time across war-ravaged Europe to save the general and catch the villainous officers. However, Webber, posing as an American soldier, kills General Patton in a staged traffic accident. At the precise moment an Army truck collides with Patton's car, Webber fires a rubber bullet, striking Patton and breaking his neck. De Luca, however, tracks down the assassin and kills him with his own weapon.


  • Sophia Loren as Mara
  • John Cassavetes as Major Joe De Luca
  • George Kennedy as General George S. Patton
  • Robert Vaughn as Colonel Donald Rogers
  • Patrick McGoohan as Colonel Mike McCauley
  • Bruce Davison as Colonel Robert Dawson
  • Edward Herrmann as Colonel Walter Gilchrist
  • Max von Sydow as Professional Assassin Shelley Martin Webber
  • Ed Bishop as Colonel Frank Stewart
  • Lee Montague as Lucky Luciano
  • Hal Galili as Captain Levy
  • Bernard Horsfall as Shelley
  • John Junkin as Carberry
  • Sigfrit Steiner as Herr Schroeder
  • Reinhold Olszewski as General Ostranov
  • Bob Cunningham as General Stackwood
  • Heinz Bennent as Kasten
  • Brad Harris as Lt. Rowan
  • Claudia Butenuth as Hilde
  • Osman Ragheb as Herr Wohler
  • Marshall Reynor as MP Captain
  • Sissy Weiner as Waitress
  • Drew Lucas as Duty Sergeant
  • Peter Armstrong as Sgt. Leary
  • Wolfgang Hiller as Cable Clerk
  • Dietrich Kerky as DP Camp Commandant
  • Birgit Bergen as Woman in Train
  • Richard Kley as Heinz - the Butler
  • Ernst Zeiner as Band Leader
  • Ray Le Clair as Lt. Lane
  • Jimmy Jackson as Piano Player
  • Hildegard Busse as DP Woman
  • Yulian Panich as Russian Officer
  • Lynn Ferren as WAC CID Agent
  • René Schoenberg as Benoit



Brass Target, despite a lukewarm reception on release, is noted for its attention to historical detail in an early post-war Europe. The Cold War had not started but relations with the Russians are shown to be already frosty. There are displaced persons camps, refugees and POWs as well as the remnants of war, such as bombed out buildings and destroyed armored vehicles and equipment. The notion that Patton was assassinated in a staged accident follows the story line of the novel The Algonquin Project by Frederick W. Nolan upon which the film was based.[1] It was considered by most to be purely fictional, but a ground-breaking investigative book entitled Target: Patton, The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton by Robert K. Wilcox,[4] published in 2008, lends credence to the idea. Additionally, although approximately $2.5 Billion in Reichtag Bank gold was determined to be pilfered in several separate thefts, most of which is still missing, there was no train robbery involved as presented in the film.

Filming locations[]

Brass Target was shot on location in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and Switzerland.[5]


The casting director, Munich resident Val Geist, used many US Soldiers from the 66th MI Group who were stationed at the time in Munich, Germany as extras in the film.[5][6]


Critical response[]

Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote in his review: "IT is the dubious premise of The Brass Target, a film full of dubiety, that Gen. George S. Patton was assassinated in Germany in 1945 by a motley crew of United States Army officers in an attempt to hide their theft of $250 million in Nazi gold. History says that General Patton died in Germany in 1945 following an automobile accident, but Frederick Nolan, who wrote The Algonquin Project, this film's source material, has connected various unsolved mysteries to make a wobbly case for his conspiracy theory. As historical speculation goes, it's less interesting than wondering where we might be today if Ford's Theater had been playing Uncle Tom's Cabin that fateful night in 1865, instead of Our American Cousin. Would Lincoln have attended, or might he have said, "Mary, I just can't sit through it again"? You may elect not to sit through international claptrap like this film, which doesn't measure up even to The Cassandra Crossing ... The Brass Target, which has been rated PG ("Parental Guidance Suggested"), contains a lot of violence, all of it simulated but random in the way of simple-minded movie-making."[6]


Brass Target was released in theatres on December 22, 1978, in the United States[5] and March 2, 1979, in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] The film was released on DVD on August 30, 2012 by Warner Archive Collection.[7] MGM Home Entertainment released Brass Target on DVD for the Sophia Loren Collection.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Nolan, Frederick W. (1974). The Algonquin Project (1st ed.). New York City: William Morrow and Company. ISBN 978-0688003197.
  2. "Brass Target". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  3. Variety film review; December 13, 1978.
  4. Wilcox, Robert K. (2008). Target: Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton (1st ed.). Washington, D.C.: Regnery History. ISBN 978-1596985797.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Brass Target". American Film Institute. Los Angeles. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Canby, Vincent (December 22, 1978). "Screen: Patton Plot:Historical Speculation". The New York Times. New York City: The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  7. "Brass Target". Warner Archive Collection. Burbank, California: Warner Home Video. August 30, 2012. ASIN B008NNY8HW. Retrieved November 28, 2016.
  8. "Brass Target". MGM Home Entertainment. Burbank, California: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. ASIN B0007655GG. Retrieved November 28, 2016.

External links[]

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