Combustible Celluloid
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With: Clint Eastwood, George Kennedy, Vonetta McGee, Jack Cassidy, Heidi Brühl, Thayer David, Reiner Schoene, Michael Grimm, Jean-Pierre Bernard, Brenda Venus, Gregory Walcott, Candice Rialson, Elaine Shore, Dan Howard, Jack Kosslyn
Written by: Hal Dresner, Warren B. Murphy, Rod Whitaker, based on a novel by Rod Whitaker (a.k.a. Trevanian)
Directed by: Clint Eastwood
MPAA Rating: R
Running Time: 123
Date: 05/20/1975

The Eiger Sanction (1975)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Bold Mountain

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Clint Eastwood's mountain-climbing spy thriller is surprisingly effective, even by today's standards. Eastwood plays Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, a retired assassin and mountain climber, and current art collector. His former boss, the sinister albino "Dragon" (Thayer David), convinces him to perform one last job, one last "sanction," a murder to avenge one of Hemlock's old friends. That leads to a second job, which requires Hemlock to climb one more miserable mountain to kill his quarry. He re-connects with his old mountain-climbing trainer Ben Bowman (George Kennedy) for a crash course, and a lady spy, Jemima (Vonetta McGee) piques his interest as well. Of course, enemy spies try to kill him at every turn. But the mountain-climbing footage is truly gripping. There are some troublesome gay stereotypes, but easily forgiven considering the era. And though the film goes on a bit long, Eastwood does a brilliant job of doling out information and balancing the suspense. The scenes of Dragon's temperature and light-controlled lair are especially striking. This is an underrated, high-water mark for the great director.

In 2020, Kino Lorber released the film on Blu-ray in a beautiful new 2K transfer. Bonuses include a commentary track by film critic Nick Pinkerton, an interview with actor Reiner Schoene, an archival interview with actor Heidi Brühl, a vintage promo reel, a poster and image gallery, and a series of trailers, TV spots, and radio spots. Recommended.

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