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CHARLES BRONSON WITH JILL IRELAND IN 'BREAKHEART PASS'

Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS Year: 1975 Rating: ****1/2

British actress Jill Ireland sporadically appearing in husband Charles Bronson's films was really a matter of convenience, providing the family a kind of busman's holiday that was great for them, but not always the audience since her overacting often clashed with the comparably slow-burn cadence of vehicles like THE MECHANIC or HARD TIMES: the latter making an enemy out of writer/director Walter Hill, shooting as few scenes with Ireland as possible, so he never worked with a perturbed Bronson again...

But in the case of (the same years') BREAKOUT director Tom Gries's Mystery/Western BREAKHEART PASS, Jill Ireland fit perfectly since her character... the daughter of a post-Civil War Northern General... is fitfully classy and sophisticated, making one particular opposites-attract scene really spark while helping Bronson's supposedly captured-outlaw Deakin, tied uncomfortably inside an otherwise fancy train car and... although he's the central lead, PASS is mainly an ensemble, equally balancing the other characters, all suspects...

Poster Artwork for BREAKHEART PASS

That is, suspected solely by Bronson, actually an undercover government agent posing as a wanted man, gathering clues about the titular BREAKHEART PASS that the train's headed towards (involving a reported army base diphtheria epidemic), roaring through a snow-covered, deep wilderness region that provides a beautifully harsh aesthetic, viewed from both the interior and exterior: where Bronson battles a knife-wielding cook...

Yet his identity's still unknown by higher-class passengers Richard Crenna as a cold, facts-only Governor, also Ireland's love-interest; Ed Lauter as a distrusting-of-everyone army major; Ben Johnson a no-nonsense Marshall who thinks he's taking Bronson to hang; and Bill McKinney's bible-thumping reverend who is actually...

Poster Artwork for BREAKHEART PASS

Well some things shouldn't be spoiled because the story, based on a novel by twist-and-turn author Alistair MacLean, flows tightly alongside the characters, eventually morphing from the suspenseful, dialogue-centered, Hitchcock-inspired train ride into your typical horse-clopping, guns-drawn Western-flick finale...

Overall providing the previous years' DEATH WISH superstar Charles Bronson an intelligent yet brutally resilient action-hero role, with just-enough vulnerability needed for a dangerous journey that he and the audience are — from the very beginning —  trapped within the midst of. 

Charles Bronson and Jill Ireland in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson and Richard Crenna in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS with Casey Tibbs
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Richard Crenna, Bill McKinney and Ben Johnson in BREAKHEART PASS
Jill Ireland in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS with Archie Moore
Sally Kirkland in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Sally Kirkland in BREAKHEART PASS with Ed Lauter and David Huddleston

Bill McKinney and Charles Durning in BREAKHEART PASS with Ben Johnson & John Mitchum
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Richard Crenna and Jill Ireland in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Bob Tessier in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Ben Johnson and Richard Crenna in BREAKHEART PASS
Scott Newman (son of Paul Newman) in BREAKHEART PASS
Ed Lauter in BREAKHEART PASS
Ben Johnson in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Roy Jenson in BREAKHEART PASS
Wichita actor Rayford Barnes in BREAKHEART PASS
Rayford Barnes in BREAKHEART PASS
Ed Lauter, Charles Bronson and Richard Crenna in BREAKHEART PASS
Jill Ireland and Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Ed Lauter and Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Charles Bronson in BREAKHEART PASS
Credit Effects for BREAKHEART PASS
Credit Effects for BREAKHEART PASS
Credit Effects for BREAKHEART PASS
Credit Effects for BREAKHEART PASS
Credit Effects for BREAKHEART PASS

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