Breakheart Pass (film)

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Breakheart Pass
Breakheart Pass 1975.png
Theatrical poster, artwork by Mort Künstler
Directed by Tom Gries
Produced by Jerry Gershwin
Elliott Kastner
Written by Alistair MacLean
Starring Charles Bronson
Ben Johnson
Richard Crenna
Jill Ireland
Music by Jerry Goldsmith
Cinematography Lucien Ballard
Edited by Byron Brandt
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
December 25, 1975 (premiere in Finland)[1]
Running time
95 min.
Country United States
Language English

Breakheart Pass is an American 1975 western adventure film that stars Charles Bronson, Ben Johnson, Richard Crenna, and Jill Ireland. The movie was based on the novel by Alistair MacLean of the same title,[2] and was filmed in north central Idaho.[3][4][5][6][7]


In the 1870s, residents of the garrison at the Fort Humboldt Army outpost are supposedly suffering from a diphtheria epidemic. A train is heading towards the fort filled with reinforcements and medical supplies. There are also civilian passengers on the train – Nevada Governor Fairchild (Richard Crenna) and his fiancée Marica (Jill Ireland), among others.

The train stops briefly in Myrtle, where it takes on board a local lawman Sheriff Pearce (Ben Johnson) and his prisoner, John Deakin (Charles Bronson), a notorious outlaw who was identified via a picture in a newspaper article. However, Deakin is actually an undercover federal agent.

Deakin, along with his partner, the Reverend (Bill McKinney), discovers en route that there is no epidemic at the outpost and the "epidemic" is actually a conspiracy between a group of killers and a tribe of Indians. One by one, though, men aboard the train keep dying as it steams toward Breakheart Pass.

At Breakheart Pass, all hell breaks loose as Indians attack the train (over 400 stolen rifles). The Army train, which lost all its troops in a spectacular crash, is defenseless. Meanwhile, the gold smuggling co-conspirators (hired killers) are signaled by the train whistle, and ride out to take the train. Guns & dynamite erupt in the ensuing battle, and in the end, the pass is littered with carnage as the Indians are left running.



Portions of the movie were filmed in Pierce and Reubens in northern Idaho.[5][8] Railroad scenes were filmed on the Camas Prairie Railroad (based in Lewiston),[5][7][9] using Great Western Railway steam locomotive #75.[10]

Alternating shots of clear and overcast skies are present in the final climactic scenes.

Veteran stuntman Yakima Canutt,[3] age 79, performed second unit direction for the film and his son Joe was one of the stuntmen.[11]

Lewiston realtor Irv Falling, a retired Army colonel, played Jill Ireland's father in the final scene, an army colonel. He had helped the Bronsons find a home to rent in the area.[3][5]

Home media[edit]


  • Release date: December 19, 2000
  • Full Screen & Widescreen Anamorphic
  • Region: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 & 16:9
  • Audio tracks: English, French
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Running time: 95 minutes

Kino Video released "Breakhart Pass" for the first time on Blu-ray on August 12, 2014.


A limited edition (3,000 run) CD soundtrack of Breakheart Pass, highlighting the original music of Jerry Goldsmith, was released by La-La Land Records. It is out of print.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Breakheart Pass premieres
  2. ^ Vorpahl, Beverly (February 7, 1976). ""Who-Done-It" filmed in area". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). p. 20. 
  3. ^ a b c Dullenty, Jim (April 1, 1975). "Interview roles reversed". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). p. 1. 
  4. ^ "'Breakheart Pass' ready for all the world to see". Spokane Daily Chronicle (Washington). photos. February 7, 1976. p. 3. 
  5. ^ a b c d Campbell, Thomas W. (February 13, 1976). "'Breakheart' - bullets fly, men die". Lewiston Morning Tribune (Idaho). p. 14A. 
  6. ^ Bunning, Paul (February 16, 1976). "Idaho scenery steals show". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). p. 5. 
  7. ^ a b Blumenthal (July 10, 1975). "Motion picture production creates an anti-recession boom for Idaho city". The Ledger (Lakeland, Florida). (New York Times). p. 4C. 
  8. ^ Idaho film archive
  9. ^ "It's not for real". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). (photo). April 14, 1975. p. 6. 
  10. ^ Railroad Movies on DVD (
  11. ^ Pitts, Michael (1999). Charles Bronson: The 95 films and the 156 Television Appearances. McFarland & Company. p. 32. ISBN 0786417021. 
  12. ^ Breakheart Pass soundtrack

External links[edit]