After a sudden outbreak of diphtheria, the authorities dispatch an express train carrying reinforcement soldiers and medical supplies through the frozen West across the Rocky Mountains to aid the remote garrison of Fort Humboldt. Along with the troops, there are also aboard Governor Richard Fairchild; the outpost commander's daughter, Marica; the squad's captain, Major Claremont; the U.S. Marshal, Pearce, and his mysterious prisoner, John Deakin. Indeed, this was supposed to be a routine operation; however, before long, in this confined but well-guarded place, missing officers and unexplained deaths start to shroud the mission with mystery and suspicion, as an unstoppable unknown killer is picking them off one by one. Who is the murderer in their midst?Written by
The Breakheart Pass is a location in Nevada's Rocky Mountains through which trains must pass. See more »
When Marica notices that the rear cars have detached, she sees a modern AAR coupler (itself an anachronism), with the knuckle opened normally. It is not possible to open a coupler when the train is pulling upgrade. A later shot shows the knuckle broken off. This cannot be done intentionally, and if it were unintentional, the air brake connections would not have been closed, so the brakes would immediately set. See more »
[Speaking to Marica]
When a man is a killer, arsonist, a cheat and a coward, it's hardly surprising if he turns out to be a liar as well.
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The UK cinema version was cut for an 'A' certificate with the removal of a bloody head shooting and a shot of Claremont slashing Fairchild with a sword. Video releases featured the same cut print though DVD versions are fully uncut. See more »
One thing I do like about Breakheart Pass is that absolutely nobody is who he pretends to be. For the first time viewer, 90% of the fun is figuring just who the good guys and bad guys are on this train to Fort Humboldt in the Rocky Mountains. It's not revealed until about 75% of the film is done and when it is revealed the action steps up considerably.
A special train is being sent to Fort Humboldt with medical supplies and a relief force as cholera has broken out there. The territorial Governor Richard Crenna is taking personal charge of the operation, the troops are commanded by cavalry Major Ed Lauter. Along for the ride is U.S. Marshal Ben Johnson, Doctor David Huddleston, the Commanding officer's daughter, Jill Ireland. The engineer is Roy Jenson, the conductor is Charles Durning. Governor Crenna travels in style with a private car with a cook, Archie Moore and a server Victor Mohica. As you can see Breakheart Pass has a good cast.
Marshal Johnson arrests a fugitive, Charles Bronson, before the journey starts and circumstances force him to take Bronson along. People start getting killed on this trip, even before the train leaves and as I said no one is exactly who he seems to be.
Alistair MacLean for a non-American writer managed in this story to get the western ambiance down pretty good. Breakheart Pass combines the best elements of a western and a mystery and I wouldn't miss it if I was either a western or a mystery fan.
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