The Cassandra Crossing (1976)

Genres - Action, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Disaster Film, Action Thriller  |   Run Time - 125 min.  |   Countries - Germany , France , United Kingdom , Italy , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Donald Guarisco

This late-period entry into the disaster epic genre isn't the worst of the bunch but it's also far from the best. The Cassandra Crossing starts well enough, setting up its 'spread of a plague' premise with a crackerjack action sequence and several brisk scenes that introduce its main players. However, the story becomes bogged down once the train starts moving, limping its way through a lot of pulp-y melodrama as it slowly works its way towards an action-heavy finale. George Cosmatos directs the goings-on with reasonable sense of polish, although he's clearly more comfortable with the action rather than the drama -- and his work in that area is sometimes hamstrung by some cheap-looking special effects. The best aspect of the film is its star-studded cast: Richard Harris delivers a stronger and more committed performance than the film really deserves, Sophia Loren acquits herself nicely as his on-again/off-again lover and Burt Lancaster does solid work as a nefarious government figure. Also of note are colorful character turns by Martin Sheen as a gigolo with secrets to hide and Lee Strasberg as a pickpocket with a tragic backstory. Ultimately, The Cassandra Crossing is a pro-forma piece of work; an acceptable time-waster but nothing more.