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The ONLY reason "Avalanche Express" will ever be mentioned again is that
actor Robert Shaw died while the film was in production. Sadly even his
voice is heard only briefly in two scenes. The rest of his lines had to be
It is one of those goofy espionage thrillers with a large cast of mostly has beens that were popular in the 70's. Where else can you see a movie with Joe Namath, Linda Evans, AND Lee Marvin? Yes, bad movie lovers, this is the film for you.
For fans of Shaw , probably any other film he made is better then this one. Pay tribute to this fine actor by watching "The Sting," "The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3," "Jaws," or "Black Sunday." Let this drivel disappear into oblivion as it was meant to.
Upon watching Avalanche Express, Robert Shaw's final film I was rather
disappointed. Shaw, one of my favourite actors, lines are dubbed and
this detracts from the viewing pleasure. This is not only because the
voice sounds nothing like Robert Shaw, but because the dubbing has been
done so poorly.
When I read a previous review which stated that it was not worth watching, I tend to agree. The film is suppose to be an action adventure but is nothing of the sort. To start off with, it is a very long time before we actually get to any exciting parts, the most memorable being the train escape during the avalanche. The special effects are also worth a mention. The avalanche doesn't look hokey, I was actually more impressed than I thought I would have been. The main problem with the film is its slow pacing. I found myself drifting off to sleep several times during its screening. Any film that does that to you really tells you something, doesn't it!
I think had both the star Robert Shaw and director Mark Robson not died during the production, it would have been something special. It had the potential, but sadly it is not an excellent film. I only recommend purchasing this film if you are a fan of Robert Shaw (Even though his lines are dubbed, its nice to see him in any film) or if you can purchase it for less than $5.00 - $10.00 US (I purchased it on DVD, which was a surprise as I have only ever seen it for sale on VHS).
Final rating: 5/10 - I don't think it deserves to be called a bomb, but it certainly isn't a masterpiece. If your looking for an excellent action/adventure film, check out Black Sunday starring this films star, Robert Shaw. I regard it as an underrated classic.
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.
This regular action tale contains thrills , intrigue , tension ,
excitement galore , entertainment and loads of falling snow .
Suspenseful spy movie packs exceptional plethora of prestigious actors
incarnating the motley group of spies for this All-Star Adventure and
sadly ending picture for both , actor Robert Shaw who was very ill
during filming and filmmaker Mark Robson . This his last movie was a
jinx , appropriately titled ¨Avalancha express¨. Soviet KGB General
Marenkov (Robert Shaw who died during its production) defects to the
Americans and together with his CIA handler Harry Wargrave (Lee Marvin
, he is mentioned in the novel the movie is based on) they plan an
operation meant to reveal the Russians are attempting to develop
biological weapons and several KGB agents in Europe . During the trail
they must survive a lot of dangers : spy-catchers , terrorist attacks ,
crossfire , double-crosses and avalanches . All planned by a Russian
top agent named Col. Nikolai Bunin (Maximilian Schell) . As the route
of the train journey on the "Atlantic Express" , was from Milan, Italy
to Rotterdam, Holland.
This exciting film contains noisy action , thrills , shootouts and results to be mediocre . And a great cast though wasted formed by the Hollywood Wax Museum . Besides , a large support cast such as Maximilian Schell , Joe Namath , Horst Buchholz , Mike Connors , Claudio Cassinelli , David Hess , Sky du Mont , Dan Van Husen and Günter Meisner . The picture has elements of ¨disaster genre¨ as when a train is threatened by lots and lots of falling snow . Passable acting by trio protagonist : Lee Marvin , Robert Shaw and Linda Evans . Robert Shaw is acceptable as KGB head who tries to defect , Shaw passed away during filmmaking , in fact most of his dialog had to be dubbed by a mimic . Colorful cinematography in Panavision by Jack Cardiff , though uncredited . Thrilling as well as atmospheric musical score by Allyn Ferguson .
Lavishly produced by Guthrie and Robson with a reported budget of $12 million , it was the most expensive film project shooting in Europe . The motion picture was middlingly directed by Mark Robson , though the film's closing credit tells the following : "The producers wish to express their appreciation to Monte Hellman and Gene Corman for their post production services¨ . In the early 40s Mark Robson was much involved with the low-budget terror unit in charge of producer Val Lewton , for whom made ¨Seventh victim¨, ¨The ghost ship¨, and ¨Island of the dead¨. In the late 1940s Robson joined Stanley Kramer's independent company and directed his biggest commercial hit to date with ¨The champion¨. Years later Robson made another good film about corruption in boxing world titled ¨The harder they fall¨ with Humphrey Bogart. In the late 1960s, his work did decline . And of course , ¨Von Ryan Express¨ was one of his best films ; this one is certainly one of the best movies ever made about the WWII escapes . And this ¨Avalanche Express¨ turned out to be an unfortunate film in which Robson and his main star , Robert Shaw, died suddenly from heart attacks . As Monte Hellman finished the direction and Gene Corman -brother of Roger Corman- completed Robson's duties as producer . In spite of a top-notch cast , spectacular images , tense images and noisy action , all of them don't make this one a good effort of its kind . This is an ordinary spy movie , being a little boring and embarrassing . Rating : 5 .
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I really enjoyed avalanche express, for one its got great acting by
some great actors who were, by this point, a little past their
time,(Lee Marvin,Robert Shaw), but thats a good thing, because it shows
that out of date actors can act. Two the storyline is kept nice and
simple and it doesn't take much to work it out, and three, the action
scenes are brilliant.
Action comes in the form of a car chase, a train being chased and attacked, a train nearly being destroyed by an avalanche, shootouts and a ship being destroyed. The film is also very intense and for the entire 88 minutes, you are on the edge of your seat.
Avalance express is highly enjoyable, recommended to anyone loves a good bit of edge-of-your-seat entertainment or a decent action movie. Trust me, this film is excellent.
With a cast as talented and diverse as the one assembled for this
espionage-cum-disaster caper, the expectations are great. The execution
is sadly lacking. Robson's last film concerns a Russian military
defector (Shaw), aided by CIA agents (Marvin, Evans & Connors
principally), pursued by a Russian patriot (Schell) determined to
capture or kill his quarry. Amid all the frantic chases, double-crosses
and narrative cul-de-sacs, an avalanche threatens to derail a train
carrying the defector and his minders. Cobbled patchwork of a feature
film, with erratic editing and a plot so riddled with contrivances,
that you're confounded by the fuss. Why it wasn't made more simply is
obvious - the storyline is so aimless and superficial, there's just not
enough material to sustain a feature length movie.
Disappointingly pedestrian performances from Shaw, Marvin, Evans and Connors lend very little to the quality of the picture, while Schell at least applies some effort in his stereotypical Cold-War silhouette. He also has the best of the uninspired dialogue. Former NFL star Joe Namath isn't bad as one of the good guys, and Kristina Nel (where's Marthe Keller?) makes a reasonable terrorist. With names like Horst Buchholz, Claudio Cassinelli and Vladek Sheybul in bit parts, the opportunities for success were endless. Sadly, none of it comes to fruition.
If you were expecting some improvement from the foreshadowed avalanche, you'll be disappointed to learn that it's anticipation is more exciting than the execution. Although there's a few decent action sequences and colourful location work, mostly the film is just talky and pointless. Notwithstanding the well documented challenges encountered making this film (i.e. the death of both director Robson and star Shaw), it's difficult to imagine how much better this film could've been had they both lived to see completion. Maybe better they didn't, although it's a great shame that this underachievement is their collective swansong.
From the hilariously overdubbed Russian dialogue (in the very first scene to boot; what a great way to start your movie!) to the badly miscast actors (Maximilian Schell as a top Russian official???) and from the unexciting action scenes (full of inept bad guys who can't shoot straight) to the trite "May-December" romance between Lee Marvin and Linda Evans, "Avalanche Express" demonstrates how easy it is to screw everything up in this genre. In its defense, it's not as awful as, say, "The Kremlin Letter"; there is also some good on-location shooting in Europe. Despite the title, the "avalanche" part of the movie doesn't take up more than five minutes. (*)
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
70s esponiage thriller, with robert shaw as a soviet defector helping us
colonel lee marvin to trap communist spy master maximillian
the opening is confusing, with lots of characters being introduced every
minute, and its hard to tell who's who (plus, the opening scene is badly
dubbed into russian. why couldn't they just speak in english?)
when the train gets attacked, all the windows get blown out and there are some loud explosions and gunfire, yet no one from the back of the train seems to notice, letting the americans at the front of the train run around shooting people. then, a few minutes later, all the windows are magically restored! huh? and how did lee marvin manage to take over the first three carriages of the train anyway? the avalanche itself comes about midway through the film and is not a major part of the plot. horst bucholz pops up at the end in a very minor role. This is pretty bad!
I am a big Robert Shaw fan. I was very sad when I heard that he died at a
very young age of 52. So when I learned that he made two films before he
died, I looked foward to seeing them, so I could spend some more time with
that great acting talent. The first "Force 10 From Navarone" was a fun
adventure film with Shaw still at the top of his game the second was
It came out some 14 months after he died, and I went quickley to my local movie theater to see it. Imagine my disapointment when I first heard him speak and realised that majestic voice was dubbed. It hurt alot that I would not hear that wonderful voice for the next 88 minutes. The voice didn't sound anything remotely like him.
As for the film itself, what can I say about a film where Joe Namath givves the best acting performance. As the other review says, if you love watching bad movies this is the film for you. The biggest laugh is at the end where the Robert Shaw character is singing a sad Russian song (Another sadness as I wouldn't hear Shaw's own wondeful singing voice_ and then the film cuts to an exterior shot of the airplane and while the "Shaw" voice is still sing he is joined by the croaking silver tomes of Lee Marvin. Who could ever forget his rendition of "Wandering Star"in "Paint Your Wagon". What was to be a pogniant moment was turned in to a laughfest instead. I left the theater wishing I followed the ushers advice as saw Meteor instead.
Awful attempt at blending a political thriller with disaster movie
shenanigans, Avalanche Express is also a sad end to the careers of
Robert Shaw (Jaws/The Sting) and Mark Robson (The Seventh
Victim/Bedlam). Both of whom died during the production.
Plot essentially sees Shaw's Soviet official, Marenkov, defecting to the west whilst aiming to kill off his homeland's biological weapons programme in the process. Basically putting himself up as bait to flesh out the baddies, Marenkov is being protected by Lee Marvin's CIA agent Harry Wargrave and his pals. Cue a train snaking through the snowy mountains as they all try to evade an avalanche and some shifty types attempting to spoil the mission.
There's a whole bunch of talking and a whole bunch of actors drifting in and out of the film without making a mark. The action, what little there is, is slip-shod and the dubbing of Shaw only brings more sadness to what is quite simply a sad movie! Jack Cardiff's photography is crisp and deserves a better film, and even though the model work on show is a bit hit and miss, it does have a quaintness that steers you away from the turgid screenplay. But all told it's a boring mess of a movie and really only one for Marvin and Shaw fans to tick off of their lists. 3.5/10
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