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on May 13, 2006
Breakheart Pass is a suprisingly good mystery/thriller from a genre you might not normally expect; a western. Based on the novel by Alistair MacLean, the movie begins with a train loaded with troops and medicine stopping in a small town called Myrtle City. The train takes on two passengers, John Deakim, a gambler accused of murder, and Nathan Pearce, a U.S. Marshal. It is revealed the train is traveling to Fort Humboldt to deliver some much needed medical supplies. But soon, dead bodies start appearing, and we realize something more sinister is going on. I was suprised by how much I enjoyed this movie. There are enough plot twists and suprises to keep you entertained, and several good action scenes. Throw in a very catchy Jerry Goldsmith score and how can you lose?

I've said this in other reviews of Bronson movies, but moviegoers often assume Charles Bronson is a one-trick pony, that he can't play anything other than his Paul Kersey Death Wish character, but here is another role that proves otherwise. Bronson plays John Deakim, a gambler accused of murder who knows more than he is letting on during the train trip. Ben Johnson co-stars as U.S. Marshal Pearce, a deputy marshal who finds his way onto the train with Deakim. The strong supporting cast includes Richard Crenna as Governor Fairchild, the governor of the unnamed territory, Jill Ireland as Marica Scoville, a young woman visiting her father, Charles Durning as O'Brien, the railroad represenative, Ed Lauter as Major Claremont, the officer in charge, and Bill McKinney as Peabody, a travelling reverend. The DVD offers a pretty nice looking widescreen presentation and trailers. Don't judge this book by its cover. I didn't think a murder mystery western on a train sounded very good, but I really enjoyed this movie. So for a good mystery/thriller western with a great cast, a good Goldsmith score, and plenty of twists and turns, check out Breakheart Pass!
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on January 5, 2007
I remember going to the drive-in with my dad (Neal Clark Reynolds, a top 500 reviewer on Amazon), where this movie was the second of a double header. I was not really interested in seeing a Western, but Dad talked me into watching it, and I was hooked through watching it.

The back-drop is the West, but this is a pure adventure/mystery. It is based on Alistair MacLean's excellent novel (I think MacLean worked on the screenplay). There are changes: there is a triangle between John Deakin (Charles Bronson), Gov. Fairchild (Richard Crenna) and Marcia Scoville (Jill Ireland) in the movie; in the book, Marcia was the niece of the governor, eliminating the triangle facet. Also, the ending differs between the two. But for the most part, it is faithful to the book.

This is an exciting movie, with some plot-twists and hidden identities that would keep you guessing.
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on June 19, 2006
This is a very intruiging and effective action thriller on board a train. Charles Bronson star's as John Deakin who is arrested for cheating at poker. But Bronson in reality is an undercover agent. The train is occupied by Richard Crenna who is (Governor Fairchild) , Jill Ireland who is on her way to visiting her father , Ben Johnson who is a U.S. Marshall and Ed Lauter who is the Army Major. The plot of this film is this train is carrying medical supplies to an army outpost in Utah and also carries many army soldiers who are to replace soldiers who have been wiped out by a medical disease. However as People start disappearing and dead bodies turn up Bronson begins snooping around and discovers a plot that is in reality a way for the train to get to the Utah outpost so that awaiting Indians can take over boxes of medical supplies but in reality the boxes contain rifles and ammunition and there is a group of outlaws also waiting at the outpost who plan to steal Gold and Silver which happens to be distributed through that particular outpost. There are some holes in the plot but the film is full of action and suspense along with a terrific musical score. The beautiful snow covered landscapes for which the train travels through is astonishing. Great acting from Bronson ,Jill Ireland who was never one of the greatest leading ladies so to speak actually does a very good job here , Robert Tessier who Plays the Lead Outlaw (Calhoun) is solid and Ed Lauter really standsout and he has always been an underated actor who has never really gotten his Due.There is a Fight scene involving Bronson and Former Boxing Champion Archie Moore who plays the train's Chef . This fight scene Between Bronson and Moore takes place on top of the moving train covered with snow and is without a doubt one of the greatest fight scenes you will ever see.
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on January 26, 2008
I first saw this movie in early 1976 when released, and have viewed it many other times. Also being a fan of Alistair MacLean's writings, have the book in my library. As most movie fans could guess, significant differences exit between the story in book form and the story brought to the screen. One item especially, in the book two train cars hold nothing but the cavalry horses later needed, but on the screen horses have no role to play in the action aboard the train. And that is interesting because Mr. MacLean wrote the screenplay. However, both the book and the movie, each in it's own venue are still very interesting and entertaining. Was Mr. MacLean rewriting his own novel or did they not want to contend with horses while filming? Who can say, but it works out fine either way.

A couple standout items for me in this movie: the muscial score from Jerry Goldsmith helps to heighten the action and acting performances. Another item is the photography, which captures the deep ravines and tall trail tressels, all backdropped by the green trees and scenic views. A very well managed production, a delight for the eyes of the viewer.

A mystery set in the west using ole #9 tall stack locomotive is a movie almost anyone can enjoy. Especially since so many of these actors have now died. After 30 some years, this picture is still an enjoyable parcel of entertainment for movie viewers.

Watch it and enjoy.

Semper Fi.
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on May 18, 2006
this is one of those movies that i came to love in the 70's,a great score,well written,acted,and directed.

bronson is a small time crook who is caught and put aboard a train going through the rocky's to take help to a fort that is being hit with a plague. but all isn't as it seems and bronson is going to find out what is going on. the mood of the movie is great and the passager's start to die and disapear one by one.

one of bronson's better movies and a fun western adventure. check it out.
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on January 9, 2016
THE STORY: Murder & mystery surround a train bound for a remote Army fort, charged with delivering serum to combat a virulent disease ravaging the soldiers there. But on this trip nothing is as it should be and no one apparently can be trusted. At the center of it all, Charles Bronson, who may or may not be what he seems, works to uncover the truth before he - and everyone else - are killed to protect the secrets on board.

THOUGHTS: Extremely engaging whodunit in western trappings. Alistair MacClean concocts yet another multi-layered mystery with numerous twists & turns to keep the viewer guessing Who? What? and Why? right up until the exciting conclusion. Charles Bronson makes for an unusual but well-chosen mystery man who we know must be the good guy (because he's the star), but things don't exactly paint him in a very positive light at first. Other cast members, including Richard Crenna, Ed Lauter, Jill Ireland and Ben Johnson, lend their considerable talents to help bring the proceedings up several notches. Rugged remote location scenery adds authenticity. Solid direction from Tom Gries, (Will Penny, 100 Rifles, Helter Skelter), keeps things on a steady track. In all, a very worthwhile 95 minutes.

THE BLU-RAY: The folks at Kino Lorber give us another Charles Bronson outing from the 1970's. Picture looks very good overall, despite some crush (video noise) in lower light & nighttime scenes. And I am happy to report that the soundmix is even & solid. Only bonus feature is the theatrical trailer. BOTTOM LINE: If you like good whodunit flicks or are a Bronson fan then this Blu-ray release of his enjoyable western romp BREAKHEART PASS should be on your must-own list. 4 STARS
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VINE VOICEon August 20, 2004
Novelist Alistair MacLean, whose normal area of expertise is World War II thrillers such as "Where Eagles Dare" and "The Guns of Navarone", took a break from his wartime suspense novels to write an American western.

Here Charles Bronson plays a mysterious man held captive on board a train rolling through the bleak winter wilderness towards Breakheart Pass. Accused of a crime, all is not as it seems for Bronson's character Deacon, is he really a criminal or an undercover agent? With gun runners, government agents, deceitful officials and Indians, this action thriller really thrills and one could do worse than watch this on a rainy afternoon.

Highly recommended.
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on August 16, 2014
Very good transfer of Breakheart Pass to Blu-Ray. I do have a regular DVD of the movie and this Blu-Ray of it was an improvement for viewing. This is a superior improvement by Kino Lorber productions over one of the worst Blu-Ray transfers I've ever seen by them of "Duel At Diablo" starring James Garner. I do have other movies and have others pre-ordered. Hopefully the pre-orders will be at least the quality of Breakheart Pass.

Can't go wrong with Breakheart Pass. You have Charles Bronson, Richard Crenna, Ben Johnson, Jill Ireland and Charles Durning as the primary actors. The movie was written by Alistair MacLean. A lot of suspense, drama and action for a western. If you love western movies as much as I do, this is a must have.
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on March 26, 2016
This is a film from the mid-1970's, when Bronson was at his height, and making some very interesting and at times, unusual, movies. This is duly one of them. It involves a critical train shipment heading out west, circa 1880, involving various foes and allies, interesting dialogue, and, as was often the case, featuring Bronson's real life wife, Jill Ireland.... During the 10 years, 1968 - 1977, Charles Bronson had a typically commanding film presence and persona, really playing himself, and made some remarkable, but usually always credible and interesting, films. "Breakheart Pass" I would say is one of the latter, and more so for Bronson fans and affectionadoes. However, it is a solid 1970s action film, that relied more on a sense of thought and suspense, than sheer action. Well done.
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on August 28, 2014
In the late 1950s, the '60s and much of the '70s, Alistair MacLean was the king of adventure fiction. Many of his books had been turned into classic films like The Guns of Navarone, Ice Station Zebra, Where Eagles Dare, etc. In the early '70s, he tried something different: his first western spy film.
Breakheart Pass in many ways is similar to most MacLean books: there is a lead character who is not what he seems and a leading lady who despises him at first but eventually falls in love with him.There is also a villain that we do not know is the villain. There is also always a scene where the hero stashes some explosives or other weaponry that he will use later. (Remember Burton and Eastwood setting up those poles with explosives in Where Eagles Dare and the way they were used to foil the Germans at the end?)
Charles Bronson plays John Deakin in the film, a secret service agent masquerading as a gambler and killer. He is arrested by Sheriff Ben Johnson and put on Governor Richard Crenna's train. Also on board is the Governor's fiancee Jill Ireland (Mrs Bronson in real life.)
Pretty soon there are assorted murders and other mayhem involving marauding indians and other renegades.
This is one of Bronson's best films. There is a great supporting cast including Charles Durning and Ed Lauter. It also features a terrific score by the great Jerry Goldsmith and beautiful scenery as the train speeds through the snow covered wilderness. It also features a great fight scene between Bronson and boxing champion Archie Moore on the top one of the train cars.
Like many of the other Bronson films this film did not do well in theaters and joined "Hard Times," "From Noon to Three" and "The White Buffalo" as box office failures. Soon Bronson signed exclusive deals with second rate film companies ITC and Cannon Pictures and turned out a series of cheap action films including a return to the Death Wish series that hastened his demise as a major movie star. These films came and went in about two weeks. (I think I only liked one of his films during this period: Ten to Midnight.)
As for Alistair MacLean, as much as I loved his books during the '60s and early '70s, there got to be a sameness about them and I found that I could no longer read them. (I recently tried to reread one of his books, The Satan Bug, and did not enjoy it as much as I remembered. This was made into a fairly average action thriller in 1965, directed by John Sturges, who also directed the film version of MacLean's Ice Station Zebra.)
In conclusion, Breakheart Pass is an exciting and enjoyable film and right up there with Bronson's better films. It is not as far out but could make you think of the tv classic: The Wild Wild West. I have it on dvd and look forward to getting it on blu-ray. Highly recommended.
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