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Monday, December 2, 2013

Avalanche Express (1979)

A team of CIA operatives use a defecting high ranking Soviet general (Robert Shaw) as bait by having him travel by train. Their intent is that the Russians will openly attack the train hoping to kill the defector and thus expose their secret agents. With a top notch cast (in addition to Shaw, there's Lee Marvin, Maximilian Schell, Linda Evans), a solid director in Mark Robson, a screenplay by Abraham Polonsky (BODY AND SOUL), one would expect, at the very least, a competent Cold War action piece. But everything seems to go wrong. An enervated Marvin and a tired Shaw seem to walk through their parts and Polonsky's screenplay is often incoherent and illogical. It didn't help that both Robson and Shaw died during the making of the film and Shaw's voice is dubbed throughout the film. The film's avalanche sequence seems to belong to a different movie, perhaps a disaster film. The only asset the film has is Jack Cardiff's nicely rendered cinematography but he's not even listed in the film's credits and Evans at least seems trying to give a performance. With Horst Buchholz, Mike Connors, Joe Namath and Vladek Sheybal.

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