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When a senior Russian official, Gen. Marenkov, decides to defect to the west, CIA agent Harry Wargrave is sent to lead the team to get him out. Malenkov reveals that the Russians are trying to develop biological weapons. Wargrave decides that Malenkov should travel across Europe by train, on the "Atlantic Express", in an attempt to try and lure the Russians into attacking the train so that they can discover who the Russian secret agents in Europe are. During the journey they must survive terrorist attack and an avalanche, all planned by Russian spy-catcher Nikolai Bunin. Written by
During the making of Avalanche Express, Robert Shaw died and I'm sure the producers must have been in a quandary. They decided to salvage as much footage as they could with longshots and rears. Shaw's voice was weak so whole scenes were dubbed.
The result was an 85 minute action adventure story with a lot of holes in the story about a Russian general, Shaw, defecting to the west. Lee Marvin, Linda Evans, Michael Connors and would you believe Joe Namath are the CIA agents bringing him out and for some reason decide train travel is best. This is an obvious homage to Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, but I'm sure Hitchcock would not have been flattered with the comparison had the master of suspense saw this film before he died.
The rest of the players try their best and Maximilian Schell as the KGB guy assigned to kill Shaw before he makes it out of Europe is quite good. As an actor however Joe Namath is a great quarterback, in his few scenes he's painful to watch dealing with the dialog, limited though it was in his case.
I do feel sorry for Robert Shaw because of the many fine performances he did give us on the big and small screen. My first memory of him was in a short lived British syndicated television series The Buccaneers and that had far more going for it than Avalanche Express.
Had Shaw lived and the movie going public got to see what would have been the story they wanted to bring us, would we have liked it? Hard to speculate, but I'd stay clear of this unless you want to see a nice big avalanche nearly engulf a train with nearly all the cast on it.
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