Breakheart Pass (1976)

Genres - Western  |   Sub-Genres - Detective Film, Hybrid Western  |   Release Date - Dec 25, 1975 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 95 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - PG
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This Alistair MacLean adaptation is a sturdy entry in Charles Bronson's '70s-era filmography. MacLean's script isn't as tricky or thrilling as his past classic Where Eagles Dare, but it goes about its business in an effective, straightforward style, keeping the story rolling at a fast clip and adding in a few fun surprises along the way. Tom Gries' direction is stylish but unobtrusive, giving the film plenty of visual scope and getting solid performances from the well-chosen ensemble cast. The latter element is where the true joy of Breakheart Pass lies: Bronson's subtle, mysterious turn as the film's secret sleuth is ably backed by effective performances from Ben Johnson as a grizzled sheriff, Ed Lauter as a hard-headed military leader, and Richard Crenna as a rather high-handed governor. These performances anchor the film and make its mystery compelling. The end result lacks the depth or sense of invention to make it worthy of repeat viewings but it gets the job done in a likeable, professional style. As a result, Breakheart Pass is worth a look to Bronson fans and anyone who enjoys Westerns and classic mystery fare.