The Cassandra Crossing


2h 6m 1977

Brief Synopsis

When a train's passengers are exposed to a deadly virus, it triggers an international incident.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cassandra Crossing
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Release Date
1977

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Synopsis

After a beaker carrying a deadly virus is shattered during a terrorist attack on the Geneva's International Health Organization offices, one of the terrorists escapes onto a transcontinental passenger train. As the military diverts the train toward the Cassandra Crossing, a rickety bridge that likely won't be able to sustain the train's weight, the passengers try to cope with the spreading infection.

Film Details

Also Known As
Cassandra Crossing
MPAA Rating
Genre
Drama
Action
Adventure
Release Date
1977

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.66 : 1

Articles

The Cassandra Crossing


If a flaming skyscraper or an upside-down luxury liner filled with stars could draw in hordes at the box office, the reasoning behind The Cassandra Crossing (1976) follows that three threats against a contained group of big name actors equals twice the box office. Trapped and careening toward a rickety bridge, a trainload full of colorful characters finds itself contending against a deadly, flu-like disease unleashed by some dastardly terrorists intent on blackmailing international governments into releasing its prisoners. A machine gun-toting Richard Harris leads the gallery of international luminaries against the villains while trying to avoid catching a bullet or a cold.

Lavishly mounted by European media tycoons Sir Lew Grade (the head of the British broadcast network ATV) and Italian film producer Carlo Ponti, The Cassandra Crossing was at least partially intended as a star vehicle for Ponti's wife, Sophia Loren, whom he had already guided to stardom in films like Boccaccio '70 [1962]. The late Italian director George P. Cosmatos was signed to direct based on the strength of his 1973 Richard Burton thriller, Massacre in Rome, and of course he went on to become one of the most significant, if not critically lauded, '80s action directors with films such as Rambo: First Blood Part II [1985] and Cobra [1986] as well as his controversial helming of the western Tombstone [1993].

This first teaming of Grade and Ponti was a complex affair, with its rights sold for both American and British network showings before a single frame was shot. The interiors were shot at the famous Cinecitta studios in Rome, with France and Switzerland providing most of the location footage. Unfortunately the Italian authorities were on a rampage against any possible tax dodges, slapping warrants against Ponti, Loren (who sat in custody for a brief period), and many of her co-stars, though nothing materialized in the courtroom except for a judgment against Ponti.

Loren shared most of her scenes with Harris, whose expecting wife, Ann Turkel, received a supporting role in The Cassandra Crossing as well. Loren also found herself sharing screen time with another famous sultry beauty, Ava Gardner, essentially reprising her role from the earlier disaster flick, Earthquake [1974]. According to Sophia Loren: A Biography, the two women got along well with former party girl Gardner supplying some invaluable acting advice: "Always shoot your closeups first thing in the morning, honey, 'cause your looks ain't gonna hold out all day."

The rest of the high-profile cast is easily one of the most bizarre of the period, with Burt Lancaster in an uncharacteristic role as the steel-jawed mastermind plotting the train's path with a plague-carrying anarchist aboard sneezing on the passengers' food. It was a busy year for the always in-demand star, who managed to also shoot Twilight's Last Gleaming and The Island of Dr. Moreau (both 1977) back to back. Other familiar faces include a young Martin Sheen (paired off as Gardner's love interest!!), footballer-turned-tabloid-sensation O.J. Simpson (a clear bid to reprise his success from The Towering Inferno [1974]), acting coach Lee Strasberg, colorful character actor Lionel Stander (Cul-de-sac [1966]), and – this being an Italian co-production, after all – a host of European cult actors including Ray Lovelock (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie [1974]), John Phillip Law (Danger: Diabolik [1968]), and two Luchino Visconti veterans, Ingrid Thulin (The Damned [1969]) and Alida Valli (Senso [1954]).

Unfortunately, a waning public demand for disaster films had set in by the time The Cassandra Crossing unspooled in theaters in early 1977, with its R rating and surprisingly harsh finale certainly not helping word of mouth. Critics were less than impressed, though the expert cinematography and rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith were elements singled out for frequent praise. Even the man who started the disaster craze, Irwin Allen, found it difficult to continue luring audiences in with increasingly absurd projects at the same time including The Swarm [1978] and When Time Ran Out [1980], paving the way for science fiction operas to take over Hollywood instead. Seen in retrospect, The Cassandra Crossing can at least be savored for its unique concoction of star power as well as an audacious storyline which can still astound viewers confident they've seen it all before.

Producers: Lew Grade, Carlo Ponti
Director: George P. Cosmatos
Screenplay: Robert Katz, Tom Mankiewicz, George P. Cosmatos
Cinematography: Ennio Guarnieri
Production Design: Aurelio Crugnola
Music: Jerry Goldsmith
Film Editing: Robert Silvi
Cast: Sophia Loren (Jennifer Rispoli Chamberlain), Richard Harris (Dr. Jonathan Chamberlain), Martin Sheen (Robby Navarro), O.J. Simpson (Haley), Lionel Stander (Max), Ann Turkel (Susan), Ingrid Thulin (Dr. Elena Stradner), Lee Strasberg (Herman Kaplan), Ava Gardner (Nicole Dressler), Burt Lancaster (Col. Stephen Mackenzie), John Phillip Law (Major Stark).
C-129m. Letterboxed.

by Nathaniel Thompson

The Cassandra Crossing

The Cassandra Crossing

If a flaming skyscraper or an upside-down luxury liner filled with stars could draw in hordes at the box office, the reasoning behind The Cassandra Crossing (1976) follows that three threats against a contained group of big name actors equals twice the box office. Trapped and careening toward a rickety bridge, a trainload full of colorful characters finds itself contending against a deadly, flu-like disease unleashed by some dastardly terrorists intent on blackmailing international governments into releasing its prisoners. A machine gun-toting Richard Harris leads the gallery of international luminaries against the villains while trying to avoid catching a bullet or a cold. Lavishly mounted by European media tycoons Sir Lew Grade (the head of the British broadcast network ATV) and Italian film producer Carlo Ponti, The Cassandra Crossing was at least partially intended as a star vehicle for Ponti's wife, Sophia Loren, whom he had already guided to stardom in films like Boccaccio '70 [1962]. The late Italian director George P. Cosmatos was signed to direct based on the strength of his 1973 Richard Burton thriller, Massacre in Rome, and of course he went on to become one of the most significant, if not critically lauded, '80s action directors with films such as Rambo: First Blood Part II [1985] and Cobra [1986] as well as his controversial helming of the western Tombstone [1993]. This first teaming of Grade and Ponti was a complex affair, with its rights sold for both American and British network showings before a single frame was shot. The interiors were shot at the famous Cinecitta studios in Rome, with France and Switzerland providing most of the location footage. Unfortunately the Italian authorities were on a rampage against any possible tax dodges, slapping warrants against Ponti, Loren (who sat in custody for a brief period), and many of her co-stars, though nothing materialized in the courtroom except for a judgment against Ponti. Loren shared most of her scenes with Harris, whose expecting wife, Ann Turkel, received a supporting role in The Cassandra Crossing as well. Loren also found herself sharing screen time with another famous sultry beauty, Ava Gardner, essentially reprising her role from the earlier disaster flick, Earthquake [1974]. According to Sophia Loren: A Biography, the two women got along well with former party girl Gardner supplying some invaluable acting advice: "Always shoot your closeups first thing in the morning, honey, 'cause your looks ain't gonna hold out all day." The rest of the high-profile cast is easily one of the most bizarre of the period, with Burt Lancaster in an uncharacteristic role as the steel-jawed mastermind plotting the train's path with a plague-carrying anarchist aboard sneezing on the passengers' food. It was a busy year for the always in-demand star, who managed to also shoot Twilight's Last Gleaming and The Island of Dr. Moreau (both 1977) back to back. Other familiar faces include a young Martin Sheen (paired off as Gardner's love interest!!), footballer-turned-tabloid-sensation O.J. Simpson (a clear bid to reprise his success from The Towering Inferno [1974]), acting coach Lee Strasberg, colorful character actor Lionel Stander (Cul-de-sac [1966]), and – this being an Italian co-production, after all – a host of European cult actors including Ray Lovelock (Let Sleeping Corpses Lie [1974]), John Phillip Law (Danger: Diabolik [1968]), and two Luchino Visconti veterans, Ingrid Thulin (The Damned [1969]) and Alida Valli (Senso [1954]). Unfortunately, a waning public demand for disaster films had set in by the time The Cassandra Crossing unspooled in theaters in early 1977, with its R rating and surprisingly harsh finale certainly not helping word of mouth. Critics were less than impressed, though the expert cinematography and rousing score by Jerry Goldsmith were elements singled out for frequent praise. Even the man who started the disaster craze, Irwin Allen, found it difficult to continue luring audiences in with increasingly absurd projects at the same time including The Swarm [1978] and When Time Ran Out [1980], paving the way for science fiction operas to take over Hollywood instead. Seen in retrospect, The Cassandra Crossing can at least be savored for its unique concoction of star power as well as an audacious storyline which can still astound viewers confident they've seen it all before. Producers: Lew Grade, Carlo Ponti Director: George P. Cosmatos Screenplay: Robert Katz, Tom Mankiewicz, George P. Cosmatos Cinematography: Ennio Guarnieri Production Design: Aurelio Crugnola Music: Jerry Goldsmith Film Editing: Robert Silvi Cast: Sophia Loren (Jennifer Rispoli Chamberlain), Richard Harris (Dr. Jonathan Chamberlain), Martin Sheen (Robby Navarro), O.J. Simpson (Haley), Lionel Stander (Max), Ann Turkel (Susan), Ingrid Thulin (Dr. Elena Stradner), Lee Strasberg (Herman Kaplan), Ava Gardner (Nicole Dressler), Burt Lancaster (Col. Stephen Mackenzie), John Phillip Law (Major Stark). C-129m. Letterboxed. by Nathaniel Thompson

Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris


Two-time Best Actor nominee Richard Harris, who was also famous for his feisty, off-screen exploits, was once characterized along with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole as one of Britain's most charismatic and unpredictable leading men during the heyday of their popularity in the '60s and '70s. He died at the University College of London Hospital on Friday, Oct. 25. He had been suffering from Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphatic cancer, and was 72 years old.

Harris was born October 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, one of nine children born to farmer Ivan Harris and his wife, Mildred Harty. He was a noted rugby player as a youth, but shortly after his move to London in the mid-50s, Harris studied classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. After a few years of stage experience, he made his screen debut in Alive and Kicking (1958) and quickly developed a reputation as a talented young actor. His film career became increasingly impressive with such strong supporting turns in Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962).

Yet it wasn't until 1963 that Harris became an unlikely star after thrilling movie viewers and critics with his electrifying performance in This Sporting Life. His portrayal of a bitter young coal miner who becomes a professional rugby star marked the arrival of a major international talent and won him the Best Actor award at Cannes and an Oscar nomination.

Strangely enough, Harris' next projects were multimillion dollar epics and he went largely unnoticed amid the all-star casts; he had a small role as Cain in John Huston's production of The Bible (1966) and in Hawaii (1966) he played a sea captain who falls in love with a married woman (Julie Andrews). He also tried his hand at a mod spy comedy opposite Doris Day - Caprice (1967). A much better role for him was playing King Arthur in the film version of the Broadway hit Camelot (1967). The movie was not well received critically, but Harris' singing skills proved to be a surprise; not only did he win a Golden Globe for his performance, but the film's soundtrack album proved to be a bigger commercial hit than the film itself. Even more surprising was his unexpected success the following year with the pop hit "MacArthur Park" - that kitsch cornerstone of lounge karaoke. The song just missed topping the Billboard singles chart in the "Summer of 1968;" It was topped by Herb Albert's "This Guy's In Love with You."

The '70s proved to be a mixed bag for Harris. He scored a huge commercial hit with his best-known film of that decade, A Man Called Horse (1970). It became a cult Western and featured him as an English aristocrat captured, tortured and eventually adopted by Sioux Indians. He also showed some promise behind the camera, co-writing the screenplay for the psychological thriller The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun (1970) and directing (as well as starring) in The Hero (1972), a drama about an aging soccer star. But the quality of films in which Harris appeared declined as the decade progressed: Orca (1977) - a terrible Jaws rip-off, The Wild Geese(1978), and worst of all, Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), in which he had a thankless role as Bo Derek's explorer father.

Based on those films and his general inactivity in the '80s, Harris' comeback performance in The Field (1990) was a wonderful surprise. In that film he played a man who has nurtured a field into a prized piece of real estate only to lose his sanity as the property is taken from him; the role earned him a deserved Oscar nomination and showed that he was still a vital screen presence. Harris took full advantage of this new spurt in his career by committing himself to many fine character roles: the cool, refined gunslinger in Unforgiven(1992), his intense portrayal of a father mourning the death of his son in Cry the Beloved Country (1995), the resident villain of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997), and as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the epic Gladiator (2000).

Yet Harris will probably be best remembered by current audiences for his portrayal of Dumbledore, the benevolent and wily head of Hogwarts School in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) which will be released nationwide in just three weeks. Harris is survived by his three sons, Jared, Jamie (both actors) and the director Damian Harris.

by Michael T. Toole

Richard Harris, 1930-2002 - TCM Remembers Richard Harris

Two-time Best Actor nominee Richard Harris, who was also famous for his feisty, off-screen exploits, was once characterized along with Richard Burton and Peter O'Toole as one of Britain's most charismatic and unpredictable leading men during the heyday of their popularity in the '60s and '70s. He died at the University College of London Hospital on Friday, Oct. 25. He had been suffering from Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphatic cancer, and was 72 years old. Harris was born October 1, 1930, in Limerick, Ireland, one of nine children born to farmer Ivan Harris and his wife, Mildred Harty. He was a noted rugby player as a youth, but shortly after his move to London in the mid-50s, Harris studied classical acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. After a few years of stage experience, he made his screen debut in Alive and Kicking (1958) and quickly developed a reputation as a talented young actor. His film career became increasingly impressive with such strong supporting turns in Shake Hands with the Devil (1959), The Guns of Navarone (1961) and Mutiny on the Bounty (1962). Yet it wasn't until 1963 that Harris became an unlikely star after thrilling movie viewers and critics with his electrifying performance in This Sporting Life. His portrayal of a bitter young coal miner who becomes a professional rugby star marked the arrival of a major international talent and won him the Best Actor award at Cannes and an Oscar nomination. Strangely enough, Harris' next projects were multimillion dollar epics and he went largely unnoticed amid the all-star casts; he had a small role as Cain in John Huston's production of The Bible (1966) and in Hawaii (1966) he played a sea captain who falls in love with a married woman (Julie Andrews). He also tried his hand at a mod spy comedy opposite Doris Day - Caprice (1967). A much better role for him was playing King Arthur in the film version of the Broadway hit Camelot (1967). The movie was not well received critically, but Harris' singing skills proved to be a surprise; not only did he win a Golden Globe for his performance, but the film's soundtrack album proved to be a bigger commercial hit than the film itself. Even more surprising was his unexpected success the following year with the pop hit "MacArthur Park" - that kitsch cornerstone of lounge karaoke. The song just missed topping the Billboard singles chart in the "Summer of 1968;" It was topped by Herb Albert's "This Guy's In Love with You." The '70s proved to be a mixed bag for Harris. He scored a huge commercial hit with his best-known film of that decade, A Man Called Horse (1970). It became a cult Western and featured him as an English aristocrat captured, tortured and eventually adopted by Sioux Indians. He also showed some promise behind the camera, co-writing the screenplay for the psychological thriller The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun (1970) and directing (as well as starring) in The Hero (1972), a drama about an aging soccer star. But the quality of films in which Harris appeared declined as the decade progressed: Orca (1977) - a terrible Jaws rip-off, The Wild Geese(1978), and worst of all, Tarzan, the Ape Man (1981), in which he had a thankless role as Bo Derek's explorer father. Based on those films and his general inactivity in the '80s, Harris' comeback performance in The Field (1990) was a wonderful surprise. In that film he played a man who has nurtured a field into a prized piece of real estate only to lose his sanity as the property is taken from him; the role earned him a deserved Oscar nomination and showed that he was still a vital screen presence. Harris took full advantage of this new spurt in his career by committing himself to many fine character roles: the cool, refined gunslinger in Unforgiven(1992), his intense portrayal of a father mourning the death of his son in Cry the Beloved Country (1995), the resident villain of Smilla's Sense of Snow (1997), and as the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius in the epic Gladiator (2000). Yet Harris will probably be best remembered by current audiences for his portrayal of Dumbledore, the benevolent and wily head of Hogwarts School in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001) and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) which will be released nationwide in just three weeks. Harris is survived by his three sons, Jared, Jamie (both actors) and the director Damian Harris. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1977

Re-released in United States on Video January 5, 1994

Released in United States 1977

Re-released in United States on Video January 5, 1994