The Eiger Sanction is a movie that I like to tell people is as close as you can get to a live-action version of The Venture Brothers. If that doesn’t sell you on it, then I don’t know why I even bother to talk to you about movies.
Made in 1975, The Eiger Sanction is based on the novel of the same name by Trevanian. It was directed by, and stars, Clint Eastwood as Jonathan Hemlock. Hemlock is a man of many talents. He is a Vietnam War veteran, an art history professor, a mountain climber, and an assassin for a shadowy government agency.
In the movie, Hemlock is retiring from his last job as a hitman when he learns his old army buddy was recently killed while working for the very same agency. He agrees to come back for one last job – to avenge his old friend. This will make him enough money to cover his dues on his giant, undeclared art collection.
The only intelligence he has to go on is that the killer of his friend will be on a team later in the year that will be attempting a climb of the Eiger mountain. So Hemlock sets off to his old friend’s climbing resort to get in shape for the climb.
We get to see some beautiful shots of mountaineering as Eastwood trains. While there, another old Vietnam war buddy turned traitor shows up to try to take Hemlock out. This guy is so over-the-top flaming gay that it’s hilarious. I would love to tell you the name of this guy’s dog in the film.
There is no way this movie could be made today and I can’t believe it can still be bought in its original uncut form. For example, there is a black female agent named Jemima Brown. I shit you not.
After getting back in shape, Hemlock gets to Europe and onto the team to ascend the Eiger. He has to figure out which of the team members is the killer of his friend and take him out while surviving the climb. Things of course do not go smoothly. I don’t want to spoil a lot of the humor or the twists, so I will leave it at that.
This movie is one you don’t hear much about these days. I can probably guess why. It is a blast. It’s so much fun. It was made in the 70s with no regard to political correctness. I’d bet you no one at the time was even offended, because it was all done in such a playful manner. The movie is not a comedy, but The Eiger Sanction is still full of humor. The climbing sequences are better than other “man against the mountain” movies that have come out since, and the suspense is incredible. Check it out.