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Encyclopedia > The Eiger Sanction

The Eiger Sanction is a 1975 action/thriller film based on a 1972 novel by American author Dr. Rodney William Whitaker, under the pen name Trevanian, and directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Eastwood as Dr. Jonathan Hemlock. 1975 (MCMLXXV) was a common year starting on Wednesday (the link is to a full 1975 calendar). ... // Rise of the Action movie The genre, although popular since the 50s, did not become one of the most dominant forms in Hollywood until the 1980s and 1990s, when it was popularised by actors such as Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis and Sylvester Stallone. ... It has been suggested that Thriller fiction be merged into this article or section. ... Trevanian was a pen name of Dr. Rodney William Whitaker, born June 12, 1931 in Granville, New York. ... Clint Eastwood Clinton Eastwood, Jr. ...


Dr. Jonathan Hemlock, professor of art and expert mountaineer, is a retired government assassin called upon to return to work for two more "sanctions", i.e. assassinations. He's used the small fortune he made from previous sanctions to amass a small but impressive art collection, made up primarily of stolen pieces smuggled into the U.S. from Europe. assassin, see Assassin (disambiguation) Jack Ruby assassinated Lee Harvey Oswald in a very public manner. ...

His boss is "Dragon", a pure albino confined to semi-darkness and kept alive by blood transfusions. Dragon wants him to sanction two men responsible for the death of another government agent, a man who was also a friend of Hemlock's. But Hemlock refuses, insisting he is retired and uninterested in the work, regardless of the personal turn it has taken. Dragon will not be denied, however, and he arranges for Hemlock's illicit art collection to be seized by the IRS unless he cooperates. One of the targets is a member of an international climbing team about to ascend the north face of the Eiger in Switzerland, a treacherous route which has claimed many lives. Albinism is a genetic condition resulting in a lack of pigmentation in the eyes, skin and hair. ... IRS is short for U.S. Internal Revenue Service short for Indian Revenue Service short for Independent rear suspension, used in automobiles. ... Climbers on Valkyrie at the Roaches. ... The Eiger is a mountain in the Alps of Switzerland. ...

Hemlock goes to train in Arizona with his friend, Ben Bowman, then both decamp to Switzerland to join the climbing team. There is, of course, much conflict within the team, mainly due to clashing egos. The expedition eventually sets out, but encounters extremely bad conditions. Eventually rescued from the railroad that runs through the mountain, Hemlock finds the target of his mission, but it is not the one he expected.

Production notes

This film has developed a cult following because of the incredibly authentic, mountain climbing sequences at the end of the film. Since the film was made in 1975, there were no CGI effects used. Clint Eastwood did all his own stunts, saying that he couldn't expect a stuntman to risk his life if he wasn't ready to risk his own. Many critics, even those who didn't like the film, have praised these sequences and have said they make the film worth watching.


(Some are minor characters)

  • Clint Eastwood - Dr. Jonathan Hemlock
  • George Kennedy - Ben Bowman
  • Vonetta McGee - Jemima Brown
  • Jack Cassidy - Miles Mellough
  • Heidi Brühl - Mrs. Anna Montaigne
  • Thayer David - Dragon
  • Reiner Schöne - Karl Freytag
  • Michael Grimm - Anderl Meyer
  • Jean-Pierre Bernard - Jean-Paul Montaigne
  • Brenda Venus - George
  • Gregory Walcott - Pope
  • Candice Rialson - Art Student
  • Elaine Shore - Miss Cerberus
  • Dan Howard - Dewayne
  • Jack Kosslyn - Reporter
  • Walter Kraus - Kruger
  • Frank Redmond - Wormwood/Henri Bach
  • Siegfried Wallach - Hotel Manager
  • Susan Morgan - Buns
  • Jack Frey - Cab Driver

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The Eiger is a big monster, but it's the knowledge that Marie Curie Cancer Care will benefit from my efforts, that makes contemplating this huge personal challenge easier.
The Eiger Challenge is being made possible by the following sponsors: HIGHSTONE Group Ltd, Motorola, Mountain Equipment, Grand Regina Hotel,Grindelwald, Swiss International Airlines, Switzerland Tourism, ARA (Artists Rifle Association), Europcar, Air Glaciers, Jungfrau Railways, The Met Office, Meteotest, The Swiss Weather Bureau, Sutter Druck A.G, Spillstatt, 3818, Grindelwald.
Eiger Sanction (479 words)
Hemlock dispatches the first kill with dubious skill and is coerced into the next leg of The Eiger Sanction by the devious manipulations of the albino head of the secret agency
The mountain climbing sequences at the Eiger in Switzerland are quite well made and are done on the actual location without the ubiquitous blue screen use, adding an element of danger to the proceedings The suspense mechanisms are really quite tame though.
The source material for this DVD transfer of The Eiger Sanction is unremarkable.
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