The Eiger Sanction is one of those ‘lesser’ Clint Eastwood movies from the 1970’s that people talk less about. A departure from Dirty Harry and Spaghetti Westerns, Eiger received mixed reviews from critics. Even backwater TV channels rarely seem to play the film, even in graveyard shifts. But now with a new DVD re-issue from Fabulous Films, we take another look at this old, well-aged Eastwood spy yarn. It’s a film worth revisiting, or even better, looking at for the first time.
Eastwood plays a former assassin, done with his ‘sanctioned’ kills for the government (they used to pay him $10,000 a hit, y’know). But when government assassins start turning up as stiffs by the hands of a rogue operative, shadowy figure ‘Dragon’ (Thayer David, Rocky) demands that Eastwood come back out from his new life as a college professor to find the pissant and make him disappear. Eastwood agrees, but only by extorting the government at double the usual fee. Eastwood then embarks on a group climb of The Eiger, where he believes the villain is involved.
The film was directed by Clint Eastwood, as well as filling in as the lead. And here Eastwood is in his prime and is clearly enjoying himself. It’s a typical Clint vehicle; he seduces women as other women seduce him, and now and again men get bludgeoned to death and thrown out of top floor windows, all with salty one liners and that vague yet familiar air of Eastwood contempt for the whole process of acting. Eastwood is just too cool for everything and everyone knows it.
I would say though that the film is a bit too long. The practice climbs in Arizona in the middle of the film are clearly filler, sent to push the film up to 120 minutes. The film does not present us the most riveting story ever and could’ve been shortened. But all the same, Eastwood’s charisma is unchallenged. I just love how, in no time at all and not too far into the movie, Eastwood is betraying his cool mature professor job by throttling a man by the neck in the college office, in the back.
As for this re-issue, there is little to speak of. We have production notes, cast and film makers notes and a theatrical trailer, along with a quite tired DVD transfer. That said, it’s a decent film and going cheap. What’s not to like?