The Passage (1979)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Director J. Lee Thompson directed this World War II adventure drama from a script by author Bruce Nicolaysen who adapted the screenplay from his novel The Perilous Passage. Anthony Quinn stars as a brave Basque mountaineer who is hired by the American military to guide Professor Bergsson (James Mason) and his family over the dangerous Pyrenees. Together the two men struggle to ensure the group's survival and elude Von Berkow a crazed Nazi played by Malcolm MacDowell.
Action & Adventure , Drama
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
United Artists


Anthony Quinn
as Basque
James Mason
as Prof. John Bergson
Malcolm McDowell
as Capt. Von Berkow
Patricia Neal
as Ariel Bergson
Kay Lenz
as Leah Bergson
Christopher Lee
as Head Gypsy
Michael Lonsdale
as Alain Renoudot
Paul Clemens
as Paul Bergson
Rose Alba
as Madame
Neville Jason
as Lt. Reincke
Robert Rhys
as Son of the Gypsy
Jim Broadbent
as German Soldier
Peter Arne
as French Guide
Frederick Jaeger
as German Major
Terence Maidment
as German Sentry
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for The Passage

All Critics (3)

Even an experienced scenery-chewer like Anthony Quinn is no match for Malcolm McDowell, whose smirking, bug-eyed performance singlehandedly places the picture in the realm of camp and foreshadows his even more insane work in the same year's Caligula.

Full Review… | February 13, 2016
Creative Loafing

A lurid, exciting World War II chase thriller with Malcolm McDowell chewing the scenery as a sadistic Nazi.

February 17, 2006

Would not nearly be as watchable without McDowell relishing his role as [a] fanatical German officer

May 23, 2005

Audience Reviews for The Passage

This is the film that was allegedly so controversial that it only played for one week in one theatre in the US and has only been released once on VHS in Europe but never in the States. *SPOILERS* It wasn't half as gruesome as I had expected based on all that hype. Maybe it was the cracktasticness of Malcolm's character that made people so averse to this film? There were plenty of films around in the 70's that depicted the Nazis in a sadistic and sexual manner ? Ilsa She-Wolf of the SS ('74), Salon Kitty ('76), The Night Porter ('74) and a whole bunch of different kinds of Camps ? but not necessarily as big jokesters, which is what Von Berkow is. Sadistic, yes, but in a facetious way. Or maybe it was the snow, like James Mason said? But having to watch people being surrounded by cold, damp snow half of the film isn't enough to give it an R rating, now is it? There are only about three somewhat disturbing scenes and one really sad one, but that's it. A Clockwork Orange ('71) and Caligula ('79) are way worse. Moving on... The Passage doesn't have much of a plot. I don't know whether reading the book first helps at all, as I haven't had the pleasure(?) of doing so. A Basque shepherd is hired by the French Resistance to transport Some Very Important Professor and his family from Toulouse across the Pyrenees to safety before the SS get to them. A bunch of running around, hiding, and interrogating people ensues. And, well, that's about it. If it weren't for Malcolm, this film would hardly be worth a watch. But thanks to his brilliant mind, it's not really all that bad.

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