This film is one of those guilty pleasures that you often hear of people liking. Guilty pleasures may not be great classic films, but they contain something that attracts film goers. The film may have a performance, a cast, a plot, FX or writing that really speaks to people. The Cassandra Crossing is one of these films. Not a lot of people know about this film. It is certainly no classic – some of the music is bizarre, the acting is suspect, the editing is choppy and Martin Sheen doing a handstand in Y-fronts is certainly scary. Yes, this film certainly is a guilty pleasure. It has a very European feel to it. In the end, what The Cassandra Crossing has going for it is its premise – a train sent to its doom over an abandoned railway bridge because of the fear of its passengers infecting the population with an incurable plague.
I became attached to the film when I saw it on TV as an afternoon matinee when I was young. Back then, I was intrigued by the great story – a suspected plague-infested train sent to its doom over an abandoned train trestle to prevent the spread of the disease, or so we think. I loved the political overtones. Even after learning that the passengers posed no risk, the military made the decision to kill them all anyway by sending the train over the bridge that they knew was unsafe. Great story. Even though the plot is the star here, Sophia Loren and Richard Harris do put in credible performances.
I think this would be great as a remake – keep the plot and get rid of everything else: the strange, sharp editing, off-kilter acting, off music and the Euro-trash feeling. You must understand that The Cassandra Crossing was made at a time when the all-star disaster craze was sweeping across films in the 1970s. This came out of that era. It often gets lost when the discussion of 70s disaster films comes up – and it shouldn’t be. It’s a cult classic and thoroughly enjoyable to watch because of the premise alone – something it shares with another cult classic disaster thriller from the 1970s: The Medusa Touch. This is great popcorn viewing for a cold, rainy Saturday afternoon.
The bridge used as The Cassandra Crossing was actually the Garabit Viaduct – built by the man who built the Eiffel Tower. Legendary composer Jerry Goldsmith did the score – admirably at times, but his efforts were overshadowed by bizarre Euro-sounds that detracted from his score. The film was produced by Loren’s husband Carlo Ponti. In the end, the disaster theme had run its course and not even O.J. Simpson could save this film at the box office or with the critics.
It’s true! After I wrote an article about Eugenie Bouchard’s fantastic run to the Australian Open semi-finals and posted it on this blog, her name and searches about her exploded on the internet. Thousands of people found my blog entry through a Google search and poured onto my website – crashing it in the process. The reality of the situation meant that my website had exceeded the allowable bandwidth for the month and thereafter for the month of January, my website was suspended and no one (not even me) was able to access it.
Of course, all of this could have been avoided and remedied had I chosen to have a larger bandwidth for my website to allow for more traffic and more people to peruse my website. However, I didn’t foresee anything like this ever happening, so I thought the bandwidth I had was sufficient. I was mistaken. How was I to know what would happen down under? Eugenie Bouchard’s history-tying performance in a major was inevitable, but it was also a surprise. She’s just 19 and this performance came sooner than I expected.
It’s really hard to know or to gauge what event or person is going to be the next big moment on the internet. Eugenie Bouchard’s fame suddenly exploded just like that. Being a fan of Canadian tennis and tennis players, I had to write about her because it was such a moment for Canadian tennis – the first time a Canadian singles player made it to the semi-finals of a major in 30 years. In a way, I’m glad that Genie broke my website. It is gratifying to see so many people interested in her, her performance and Canadian tennis.
For the moment, I’ll stick with my current bandwidth, but should more events like those that transpired in Melbourne happen again, I will again be compelled to write about them, possibly creating another scenario similar to the one that just happened to my website. It will be at that point that I’ll really have to consider investing in a larger bandwidth. Come to think of it, judging by the way Canadian tennis is entering their most golden era yet and with the best still to come, I’ll have to seriously consider an upgrade sooner rather than later.
The best film ever made. There’s really not much more to add to what already has been said about this great film, other than to add some personal views of mine of the film.
I first saw this on TV as a little boy on Saturday afternoon. Funny, that time period had a great impact on me. That must have been a particularly impressionable time for me. Even though we only had two TV channels (CBC and CTV), that time slot on Saturday afternoons that showcased films from the 1930s to the 1970s was a goldmine. CBC was particularly good at showing old black and white films. I was mesmerized. It is because of those films that I developed a deep affection for the simplicity and starkness of black and white films. Citizen Kane was one of those films.
There have been few films that have come close to matching the achievements of Citizen Kane. Even when somebody tries to make a film in black and white today, I always end up saying: “good try”. Orson Welles was decades ahead of his time. The camera angles, the incredible lighting, the fades, the close-ups, the acting, the music, the editing, cinematography, the seamless telling of a life’s tale – all superior to anything that has been released since then. I watch this film at least once every year to remind myself what film making is all about. I have seen this film countless times and I still sit there and shake my head at its brilliance.
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