Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber - THE PASSAGE on Blu-ray ""

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Scorpion Releasing/Kino Lorber - THE PASSAGE on Blu-ray

THE PASSAGE (1979; J. Lee Thompson)
I think it was from Quentin Tarantino that the "Guys On a Mission" movie was first categorized for me. I had seen a bunch of the films and almost always enjoyed them, but had never tied them altogether for some silly reason. There are so many good films in this little niche genre, but Tarantino first spike if it in reference to WHERE EAGLES DARE (which is still one of my favorites). As many as there are, at this point I think I've seen most of the good ones. THE PASSAGE was one I had overlooked, despite a stellar cast (Anthony Quinn, Malcolm McDowell, James Mason, Kay Lenz AND Chrsitopher Lee) and it being helmed by veteran director J. Lee Thompson (who also did the Guys on a Mission Classic THE GUNS OF NAVARONE among many others). The basics of this story are that Quinn has been hired to help a family escape the Germans and get through the   Pyrenees.
First off, Malcolm McDowell steals the show with his gleefully sadistic performance as one of the more evil Nazis villains in cinema. He has that way of being charming and smirky right up to the point of torture that is both engaging and infuriating. Not that he's lost a step these days, but the 1970s was his decade and he devours this role with enthusiasm. Almost makes you forget about his accent. Secondly, Anthony Quinn is kind of a badass in this flick. He was about sixty-four at the time and he kills the crap out of a bunch of folks in this crazy frenzied way. You see, he understands the level of danger they he and the family he is trying to get across the mountains are in, so he knows they can't mess around. He's like a geriatric terminator in this movie. In fact, he and Malcolm McDowell are like duelling terminators in this film. Neither one will stop until they achieve their objective. McDowell really keeps coming through any difficulties or obstacles. It does make for some nice tension and a solid climax. The last twenty minutes or so are rife with tension and bursts of action. This is a neat little WWII movie that is worth tracking down, especially if you are a fan of the cast.

Special Features:
-"Go For It - Malcolm McDowell on THE PASSAGE" (30 mins) this is the main supplement and it's a good one. This is a very enjoyable interview with McDowell. He talks about there being little work for him London and how he was offered the part and took it because of the cast. He admits to being a great fan of James Mason. He also talks about working with director J. Lee Thompson and how he wanted to play the entirety of the Third Reich in a single character. Both Thompson and Anthony Quinn (who McDowell also speaks about working with) encouraged him and supported his choice to go so big with the character.
It's interesting that he also speaks of being inspired by comedians for both this character and his character in A CLOCKWORK ORANGE. This is really a delightful little conversation and it only made me a bigger fan. You just want to have dinner with him or something after you see it.
-"Three Months in France - Paul Clemens on THE PASSAGE" (34 mins) similarly to Malcolm McDowell, actor Paul Clemens goes through his experiences working on the film and with the rest of the cast.
-An Alternate Ending (6 mins) is included as well. It's an interesting, somewhat artist take on the ending used in the feature. 

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