Metro Goldwyn Mayer
Great Western Railway #75 stars in this mid-1970’s thriller filmed along the spectacular Camas Prairie Railroad in Idaho. With the story taking place in Utah, GWR #75 and equipment are painted up for the fictitious Wasatch & Nevada Railroad. The little 2-8-0 gets a fake cabbage stack and subdued paint scheme (they even paint the drivers mineral red).
Featuring a rather high body count (by my estimation, approximately 84 including two carloads and caboose full of soldiers), Breakheart is definitely not a family movie. BUT…all the essentials are here for a classic obscure train movie. A runaway train. Big fight atop train. Indian attack. A little cheesecake (provided by Jill Ireland). Aaaand an exploding baggage car. Let’s check out this mess of a storyline and just enjoy the railroad and scenery!
Throw Papa from the train! A stunt double dummy gets the heave-ho as W&N #9 crosses a tall trestle.
W&N #9 pulls into the little hamlet of “Myrtle”; The brakeman sets a car brake with his club. Remember this scene for later on in the picture.
Expendable soldier extras line up alongside their bunk cars and caboose; Mmmm…looks like Charles Bronson’s been a bad boy.
Having a drink in the lounge onboard the “Governor Fairchild” (what kind of self-important weenie names a private railcar after themselves?); Setting down to dinner. Hey, that’s Joe Kapp of the Vikings pouring coffee!
Good shot of the train rounding a curve; As the train stops to send a message (note telegrapher crouched near lineside pole), you get a view of the line ahead.
Wood stop. That hand-painted 9 on the smokebox door looks very cartoonish, but the gold and mineral red accents are much more understated; Cylinders, drivers and steam.
#9 and train blasts out of a tunnel and onto one of the many high trestles on the Camas Prairie.
Looking up at one of the trestles; Reverse view of the train – again note the line in the background.
Merrily we roll along…; Expendable extras — none of whom thought to go out and turn the hand brakes.
What looks like a Northern Pacific caboose and two work cars lurches off the track and turns to kindling in a stupendous derailment. Fortunately, they didn’t make the extras ride it out (no bodies visible).
Just like that, the train is now rolling through the snow – seen here in a couple of great helicopter shots.
Heading for the locomotive up front, Bronson stumbles along the snow-covered roof of the coach (using the aisle inside is for wusses…).
After great struggle, Bronson bonks the boxer with a Captain Kirk flying leg kick!; Arrrrrgh! Archie arches off the attic into the abyss! (of COURSE they’re going over a tall trestle at the time…)
Another great trestle shot; Indians! However, ten points off for DISMOUNTING from their horses to attack.
Looting the baggage car (they’re stealing rifles); Still plundering, we get a good view of the front end cars and tender of #9.
Sabotage! Bronson has been placing dynamite charges along the track with spectacular results; As the Indians watch dumbfounded, Charles rides by, lobs a dynamite bundle into the W&N #102 and….AND….
Ka-BOOM! Fireball! (you’ve GOT to have a fireball when you blow up the baggage car).
Good rods down shot of #9 and train; Bronson marches off past bodies as the credits roll.
Breakheart Pass sets a high standard for railroad action amongst some of the finest scenery on film (compare to Denver and Rio Grande 1952 reviewed earlier). Great Western #75 is still around and in the process of restoration over at the Heber Valley Railroad in Utah. The second subdivision of the Camas Prairie (where the movie was filmed) has had the rails pulled up, but many of the bridges and the line are still visible today.
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Breakheart Pass:
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