28 user 17 critic

The Passage (1979)

During World War II, a Basque shepherd is approached by the underground, who wants him to lead a scientist and his family across the Pyrenees while being pursued by a sadistic German.


J. Lee Thompson


Bruce Nicolaysen (novel), Bruce Nicolaysen (screenplay)




Complete credited cast:
Anthony Quinn ... The Basque
James Mason ... Prof. John Bergson
Malcolm McDowell ... Capt. Von Berkow
Patricia Neal ... Ariel Bergson
Kay Lenz ... Leah Bergson
Christopher Lee ... The Gypsy
Paul Clemens ... Paul Bergson
Robert Rhys Robert Rhys ... Gypsy Son
Marcel Bozzuffi ... Perea
Michael Lonsdale ... Alain Renoudot
Peter Arne ... Guide
Neville Jason Neville Jason ... Lt. Reinke
Robert Brown ... Major
Rose Alba Rose Alba ... Madame Alba


During World War II, a Basque shepherd is approached by the underground, who wants him to lead a scientist and his family across the Pyrenees while being pursued by a sadistic German.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


An ice-swept escape route in front of them. A cold-blooded killer behind them. The only way out is up. See more »


Action | Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


This movie is the only screen credit as an Associate Producer for Maurice Binder, who is most well-known for being a Title Designer in movies particularly for his signature work on James Bond movies. Binder though did not do the titles for this movie. See more »


Referenced in The Long Good Friday (1980) See more »

User Reviews

Sadistic but interesting war movie
3 November 2019 | by pete36See all my reviews

During WW II a guide has to try to pass a nuclear scientist and his family over the Pyrenees into Spain but are mercilessly purseud by an SS-officer.

This sounds rather as your mainstream war movie of the week and as it stars Anthony Quinn, James Mason, Christopher Lee and directed by the seasoned Jack Lee Thompson, so what could go wrong ? Well quite a lot as it turns out. First there is the SS-officer, so over the top played by Malcom McDowell you are almost thinking its Alex from "A Clockwork Orange" in a Nazi-uniform. McDowell tortures, kills, rapes, sets people on fire, lets his own wounded men die in the snow; there is no end to his sadism. But it is quite an interesting, if not very frightening character and McDowell obviously very much enjoyed playing him. There is no doubt Quentin Tarantino has seen this film as there is even some Hans Lamda lurking there.

But what I found equally rather strange is that TP has the look and feel of some sixties war adventure movie, even the music reminded me of this (and is totally out of place with the rather horrific mood of the film). It has many an audience put off, as it only played one week in the US and did not do much better in Europe.

There existed a VHS version but no DVD for a very long time. Apparently now there is a Blu-Ray version available.

The end is also very confusing. I do remember (but it's a long time ago) from the VHS one a different ending, rather straightforward and not with the very bizarre twists in the version I caught on YouTube (HD-format). The trivia section mentions that even 3 different endings were filmed so there you go.

A very strange war movie for its time but somehow well worth a watch, if the large amount of brutalities doesn't scare you off.

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English | German

Release Date:

26 February 1979 (Turkey) See more »

Also Known As:

The Passage See more »

Filming Locations:

Pyrénées, France See more »


Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$70,461, 11 March 1979

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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