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ANTHONY QUINN MOUNTS 'THE PASSAGE' W/ MALCOLM MCDOWELL

Poster art for THE PASSAGE Year: 1979 Rates: ****

It's already been written and spoken about that the infamous World War II flick THE PASSAGE is two movies in one; and in the critic's collective opinion, neither are very good: The first being the usual traipsing behind enemy lines action/adventure... 

In this case the snowy mountainous region of Pyrénées France that headliner Anthony Quinn, returned with GUNS OF NAVARONE director J. Lee Thompson, is paid to move a family... led by patriarchal scientist James Mason (with the brains to do a lot of damage if he winds up in Germany's hands)... into neighboring Spain, and the trek's a much anticipated, possibly lethal chore, predicted by Quinn's gruff Basque Shepard that Mason's crippled wife (Patricia Neal) doesn't have a prayer...

And there are two kids, supposedly teenagers.. The first is the youngest in ultimately intrepid but initially reluctant, mistrusting and whiny son Paul Clemens (sounding as if dubbed at times); and then this film's exploitation-starlet Kay Lenz, who seems cast just to be nakedly manhandled and (possibly) raped by villain's villain/one man Nazi show Malcolm McDowell, channeling his bratty and demented A CLOCKWORK ORANGE character so heavily he could call the French Resistance member Michael Lonsdale his "Droogie" which, in the Stanley Kubrick classic (from the Anthony Burgess novel), means friend, compatriot...

Poster Art for THE PASSAGE

Which is how McDowell's quirky psychopath Capt. Von Berkow enters into the interrogation... a charming/appreciative Columbo tactic making the captured character AND audience think everything may possibly turn out fine... 

For which auteur and actor work nicely together and, like Quentin Tarantino's obviously-inspired INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS Nazi-villain Hans Landa's Oscar-winning prelude-monologue, the suspense leading up to each interrogated victim's fate is what really matters... 

But it's not only McDowell providing the ultra-violence as some of the deadliest moments are given to tough/experienced old Quinn... leading the family from shadow-filled alleyways to a Hitchockesque train-ride to the titular mountain journey... he kills any questioning German, and is quite good here, not just going through the motions. Meanwhile, real life war hero Christopher Lee's given a quick yet important Gypsy King cameo along with FRENCH CONNECTION assassin Marcel Bozzuffi, playing nice this time... Then again, compared to crazy Malcolm, they're all pretty affable. But at the same time both sides mean business.

Kay Lenz in THE PASSAGE
Malcolm McDowell in THE PASSAGE
Anthony Quinn, Paul Clemens, Christopher Lee, Patricia Neal & Robert Rhys in The Passage
Malcolm McDowell and Michael Lonsdale in THE PASSAGE
Autographed poster from Malcolm McDowell and Kay Lenz for The Passage aka Casablanca Passage
Malcolm McDowell (Nazi with a cold... did Schindler;s List pay homage?) and Kay Lenz in THE PASSAGE
Malcolm McDowell cooks Michael Lonsdale in THE PASSAGE
Part-time artwork for THE PASSAGE

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