Brass Target is a 1978 American post war time suspense film, based on the novel The Algonquin Project by Frederick Nolan and directed by John Hough. It stars John Cassavetes, Robert Vaughn, George Kennedy, Patrick McGoohan and Max von Sydow.
The film revolves around the actual historical event of Gen. George S. Patton's fatal automobile crash. It suggests it was not an accident but a conspiracy.
The story opens in Europe days after VE Day. General Patton (played by Kennedy), orders that gold reserves held by the former Reichsbank be transported to Frankfurt. But before the shipment arrives in the city the train is robbed and its US Army MP guards are killed in a tunnel using poisoned gas.
It's then revealed that a group of corrupt American officers, led by a colonel (played by Vaughn), are behind the crime. The investigation, started by Patton, initially leads to OSS Major Joe De Luca (played by 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 (played by McGoohan), who is now living in a requisitioned German Castle.
Meanwhile, as the investigation gets closer, the corrupt American officers hire Webber, a professional assassin, (played by Von Sydow) to kill Patton in the hope of halting the inquiry.
Soon De Luca meets Mara, a former girlfriend (played by Loren), who can help him find the culprits. But before they can do that they find out that Webber is on their trail and also planning to kill Patton. The pair now have to race against time across war-ravaged Europe to save the general and catch the villainous officers who were in fact
Nazi German spies.
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.
The film, 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 armoured vehicles and equipment. Despite the attention to detail, the premise of the film is no more than groundless speculation - General Patton died due to spinal injuries sustained as a result of an automotive accident, which an official military investigation agreed with.