Review: ‘Breakheart Pass’

Production has Charles Bronson as a government undercover agent who trips up a gang of gun runners, and a marvellous old steam train as setting for most of the plot.

Production has Charles Bronson as a government undercover agent who trips up a gang of gun runners, and a marvellous old steam train as setting for most of the plot.

Working from a lean Alistair MacLean script (based on his own novel), director Tom Gries forges a brisk and polished cinematic tale in which the mysteries pile up as old No. 9 steams with troops and medical supplies to an army post gripped by a killer epidemic.

Even before embarkation, a couple of officers go missing. Then, along the journey, telegraphic contact is lost, bodies hurtle out of the train into gorges, and the train’s rear section containing the relief troops becomes detached.

Seasoned support in stock turns is furnished by Ben Johnson as a crooked marshal, and Ed Lauter as an honest army colonel.

Breakheart Pass

Production

United Artists. Director Tom Gries; Producer Jerry Gershwin; Screenplay Alistair MacLean; Camera Lucien Ballard; Editor Byron (Buzz) Brandt; Music Jerry Goldsmith; Art Director Johannes Larsen

Crew

(Color) Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1976. Running time: 95 MIN.

With

Charles Bronson Ben Johnson Jill Ireland Richard Crenna Charles Durning Ed Lauter
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  1. Duder NME says:

    A decent actioner, with sudden shots of gruesome deaths that may have undoubtedly inspired Tarantino. Ireland’s character is as a mere afterthought, delivering a moral platitude then becoming a distressed damsel. A main point of contention is when the twist occurs and is explained in breakneck fashion, if you’re not paying really good attention to what amounts as a brief exposition, you may be lost as to the reason of the film’s climax. Great music by Jerry Goldsmith, with an unusual synth accompaniment for some ne’er do wells.

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