Film Review – BREAKHEART PASS (1975)

BREAKHEART PASS (1975, USA) ***
Mystery, Western
dist. United Artists; pr co. Gershwin-Kastner Productions; d. Tom Gries; w. Alistair MacLean (based on the novel by Alistair MacLean); exec pr. Elliott Kastner; pr. Jerry Gershwin; ph. Lucien Ballard (DeLuxe. 35mm. Spherical. 1.85:1); m. Jerry Goldsmith; ed. Byron ‘Buzz’ Brandt; ad. Tambi Larsen; set d. Darrell Silvera; cos. Tom Dawson, Paula Lynn Kaatz; m/up. Phil Rhodes, Alma Johnson, Evelyn Preece, Vivienne Walker; sd. Gene S. Cantamessa, Frank E. Warner (Mono); sfx. Gerald Endler, A.D. Flowers, Logan Frazee; vfx. Bill Hansard, Don Hansard, William Suhr; st. Yakima Canutt; rel. 25 December 1975 (Finland), February 1976 (UK), 10 March 1976 (USA); cert: PG/PG; r/t. 95m.

cast: Charles Bronson (Deakin), Ben Johnson (Marshal Pearce), Richard Crenna (Gov. Richard Fairchild), Jill Ireland (Marica), Charles Durning (O’Brien), Ed Lauter (Maj. Claremont), Bill McKinney (Rev. Peabody), David Huddleston (Dr. Molyneux), Roy Jenson (Chris Banion), Rayford Barnes (Sgt. Bellew), Scott Newman (Rafferty), Robert Tessier (Levi Calhoun), Joe Kapp (Henry), Archie Moore (Carlos), Sally Kirkland (Jane-Marie), Sally Kemp (Prostitute), Eddie Little Sky (White Hand), Keith McConnell (Gabriel), John Mitchum (Red Beard), Read Morgan (Capt. Oakland).

When diphtheria breaks out at Fort Humboldt, a train is dispatched with medical supplies and relief troops. Also on board are Utah’s governor (Crenna), his mistress (Ireland), a marshal (Johnson) and his prisoner, outlaw John Deakin (Bronson). As the train passes through the mountains, soldiers go missing, telegraph lines are cut, and it is discovered that there is no epidemic. There is a conspiracy afoot, and it is up to Deakin, who is actually a federal agent, to expose it. A mix of traditional Western with Agatha Christie’s “Murder on the Orient Express” and Alistair MacLean’s “nothing is quite what it seems” school of fiction, this is an entertaining and well shot mystery. The confinement of the train setting adds challenges to the narrative as the narrow corridors make it difficult to buy into the skullduggery. However, a game cast is on hand to make the most of the material and the winter location photography adds a bleakness that is in sync with the material. The shootout finale does seem like a concession to Western fans, but the mystery elements work reasonably well. Although set in Nevada, the film was shot in Idaho.

Film Review – McQ (1974)

Related imageMcQ (1974; USA; Technicolor; 111m) ***  d. John Sturges; w. Lawrence Roman; ph. Harry Stradling Jr.; m. Elmer Bernstein.  Cast: John Wayne, Eddie Albert, Diana Muldaur, Colleen Dewhurst, Julie Adams, Clu Gulager, David Huddleston, Al Lettieri, Jim Watkins, Roger E. Mosley. A Police Lieutenant investigates the killing of his best friend and uncovers corrupt elements. Wayne tries his hand at the urban crime thriller genre in this DIRTY HARRY surrogate. Sturges’ direction is lacking in flair and a feel for the genre whilst the script is a little flabby. The result is a routine plot enlivened by a neat finale and Wayne’s presence. Jazzy Bernstein score is also a plus. Good use of Seattle locations. [15]

Film Review – RIO LOBO (1970)

Image result for rio lobo 1970Rio Lobo (1970; USA; Technicolor; 114m) ***  d. Howard Hawks; w. Burton Wohl, Leigh Brackett; ph. William H. Clothier; m. Jerry Goldsmith.  Cast: John Wayne, Jack Elam, Jennifer O’Neill, Jorge Rivero, Christopher Mitchum, Victor French, Sherry Lansing, Susana Dosamantes, Mike Henry, David Huddleston, Bill Williams, Edward Faulkner. After the Civil War, Wayne searches for the traitor whose perfidy caused the defeat of his unit and the loss of a close friend. Hawks and Wayne team up for a final time in this entertaining, if derivative and slightly tired Western. Wayne and Elam, as a trigger-happy old rancher, stand out against a young and inexperienced cast delivering inconsistent performances. The finale replays that of RIO BRAVO (1959), which the team had previously riffed in EL DORADO (1966). Partly shot in Old Tuscon. Hawks’ final film. [PG]