German director Paul May affects a non-judgemental approach -- the tale is filmed from neither a pro nor an anti-military stance -- in presenting this fascinating, finely crafted and farcical look into life in a German military barracks shortly before WW II erupts. The story of a rebellious young trainee who launches a mutiny against his superiors is based on a best-selling novel by H.H. Kirst and was followed by two sequels. Though most of the narrative centers on the trials and tribulations of new-recruit Vierbein, it is still largely an ensemble piece, and the lives of other soldiers, officers and civilians, most of whom are played by non-professional or unknown actors, are interconnected. The film's title refers to a particular type of German military pistol. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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