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: Breakheart Pass (1975)  ( 7564 )

« #15 : February 17, 2017, 05:25:04 PM »

My 'fellow man' is about to hang me!

Breakheart Pass is directed by Tom Gries and adapted to screenplay by Alistair MacLean from his own novel. It stars Charles Bronson, Ben Johnson, Richard Crenna, Jill Ireland, Charles Durning and Ed Lauter. Music is by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Lucien Ballard.

A train apparently loaded with medical supplies is heading through the mountains towards plagued Fort Humboldt. On board is a small U.S. Army unit and an assortment of passengers, all of whom are about to be in the middle of murder, mystery and dastardly plotting.

Not exactly loved by the critics of the time, but liked well enough by the paying public, Breakheart Pass is a thoroughly enjoyable movie. True enough to say it's a blend of Murder On The Orient Express and Ten Little Indians, only with a gorgeous Western backdrop, but so what? Just exactly what is wrong with that anyway? The plot is a little too tricky for its own good and characterisations are not rich in detail, but there's so much else to enjoy regardless.

It's a fine cast playing a number of desperate/cunning/dubious characters, with Bronson leading from the front at a time when he was hot at the box office. The reasoning behind all the murders, as passengers start getting bumped off one by one, keeps the mystery element strong, while Gries (Will Penny) directs without fuss and filler. The action sequences are impressive (the train roof fight is as great as you have heard it is), with stunt coordinator Yakima Canutt (in his final assignment) once again excelling.

Elsewhere, Jerry Goldsmith's score is wonderfully robust and chest thumping, a real triumph from the great man. Ballard (also Will Penny/The Wild Bunch) beautifully captures the snowbound Lewiston locale whilst ensuring the gorgeous Camas Prairie Railroad is a must see for locomotive enthusiasts. All told it's a very entertaining hybrid picture that is well constructed, technically smart and pulsing with good honest intentions. 7/10

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« #16 : March 16, 2018, 10:56:06 AM »

Eureka out of the UK will release this on blu-ray in mid May, in their Classics range:

'I feel all dead inside. I'm backed up in a dark corner and I don't know who's hitting me.' - The Dark Corner (1946)
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