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PLEASE NOTE: Michael D's is currently in READ ONLY MODE. Anything submitted will simply not be written to the database.
Lots of stuff is still broken, but at least reviews can now be looked up and read.
The Eiger Sanction (ViaVision) (1975)

The Eiger Sanction (ViaVision) (1975) (NTSC)

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Released 10-Jul-2019

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Thriller Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1975
Running Time 128:46
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Clint Eastwood

Starring Clint Eastwood
George Kennedy
Vonetta McGee
Jack Cassidy
Heidi Brühl
Thayer David
Reiner Schöne
Michael Grimm
Jean-Pierre Bernard
Brenda Venus
Gregory Walcott
Candice Rialson
Elaine Shore
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI ? Music John Williams

Video (NTSC) Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (224Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 480i (NTSC)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

     Dr Jonathan Hemlock (Clint Eastwood) is an art lecturer, an art collector and a mountaineer. He is also, or rather was until he retired, an assassin for the shadowy government agency ran by Dragon (Thayer David). When an agent is killed in Switzerland Dragon both threatens and entices Hemlock out of retirement, partly utilising Jemima (Vonetta McGee), to “sanction” the agent’s two killers. One is easily found and dispatched but the other killer remains elusive. The only thing that Dragon knows is that later that year the killer will be part of an international expedition to climb the Eiger Mountain in Switzerland; so Hemlock joins the expedition.

     But first Hemlock needs to get back into shape and so visits the resort of his old friend Ben Bowman (George Kennedy) in Arizona who is also joining the Eiger expedition as climbing manager. In Arizona Hemlock works on his fitness with the delectable George (Brenda Venus) and hones his climbing skills on the pinnacles of Monument Valley. There he also encounters Miles Mellough (Jack Cassidy), an old enemy with a score to settle.

     Later, in Switzerland, Hemlock meets the other climbers, the German Freytag (Reiner Schoene), Austrian Meyer (Michael Grimm) and Frenchman Montaigne (Jean-Paul Bernard), any of whom could be his target because Dragon has still been unable to discover the identity of the killer. So Hemlock, on the climb, must trust his life to his fellow climbers, any of whom could be his sanction. And when bad weather hits the climbers, death stalks the mountain.

     The Eiger Sanction is based on the novel by Trevanian. A couple of years previously Eastwood had had a surprise hit with his first feature as director Play Misty for Me (1971) and had since directed the interesting western High Plains Drifter (1973) and the coming of age drama Breezy (in which, unlike the other films, he did not star). The Eiger Sanction, an espionage thriller with perilous action on mountains, was something very different for Eastwood and he originally asked his old mentor and friend Don Siegel to direct, but he had persuaded Eastwood to do it. The result is underwhelming and one suspects that Siegel may have made a better picture.

     The main issue is that as a thriller The Eiger Sanction is not very thrilling. It includes some spectacular landscapes and climbing sequences in Monument Valley and the Eiger, in which Eastwood did the majority of his own stunts, but the film’s pace is pedestrian and it takes a long time to get anywhere while the subplots, such as Hemlock’s conflict with Mellough, are pointless. The film also has some distasteful attitudes towards women and a gay stereotype. And, of course as an action hero, Hemlock has to bed every nubile woman in sight which slows the plot to a crawl. When the climbers start on the Eiger it is with 30 minutes to go in a 128 minute film; from there the climbing footage and the scenery is stunning and almost rescues the film. The author of the source novel Trevanian (Rod Whitaker) did not like the film, calling it “vapid”, which is probably as good a description as any.

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Transfer Quality


     The Eiger Sanction is in the original 2.35:1 aspect ratio, NTSC and 16x9 enhanced.

     Shot on film, colours such as Hemlock’s red shirt or the climbers’ tents are bright and vibrant. Elsewhere the reds and browns of the desert are deep, as is the bright green vegetation and blue skies. The views from the Eiger or the Pinnacles in Monument Valley down into the valley floor are spectacular. Grain is present but not obtrusive. I did not notice any marks and only occasional motion blur. Close-ups are firm but detail in longer shots can be soft. Blacks are firm but shadow detail is indistinct; in some sequences all we get is a black screen, other times it is very difficult to see what is going on. Skin tones vary and can on occasion be quite red, brightness and contrast is consistent.

     The layer change at 77:23 resulted in a slight pause during at a scene change.

     English subtitles for the hearing impaired are provided.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


     Audio is English Dolby Digital 2.0 at 224 Kbps, mono. The film was released in theatres with mono audio.

     Dialogue is always clear. The effects, such as car engines, gunshots or the rocks and falls across the ice are acceptable.

     The score by John Williams is fine if not memorable. This film was released the same year as Jaws, after which things would never be the same for Williams.

    Lip synchronisation was fine.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


     Nothing. The silent menu offers “Play Feature”, “Play with Closed Captions” or “Original Theatrical Trailer” as options.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

     The US Region 1 DVD of The Eiger Sanction has a few more subtitle options and some production notes to go with the trailer. Call it a draw.


     The Cold War spy genre is one that Eastwood in his long career only dabbled in a few times. The Eiger Sanction was one. The landscape and climbing sequences, done for real in the days before CGI, are stunning and almost compensate for the pedestrian pacing of the rest of the film.

     A DVD release of The Eiger Sanction almost 20 years ago was reviewed on this site here. That DVD was PAL, not 16x9 enhanced and had an extensive range of artefacts. While this film may be lesser Eastwood, for fans of the film or the star this new release is a vast improvement in quality.

     The video and audio are acceptable. A trailer is the only extra.

     The Eiger Sanction was supplied for review by Via Vision Entertainment. Check out their Facebook page for the latest releases, giveaways, deals and more.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Monday, July 22, 2019
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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