|Directed by||Mark Robson|
|Produced by||Mark Robson|
|Screenplay by||Abraham Polonsky|
|Based on||novel by
|Music by||Allyn Ferguson|
|Edited by||Garth Craven|
Lorimar Productions (Ireland) Ltd.
|Distributed by||20th Century Fox|
Avalanche Express is a 1979 cold war adventure thriller film produced and directed by Mark Robson, about the struggle over a defecting Russian general. It starred Lee Marvin, Robert Shaw (in his last performance), Maximilian Schell, and Linda Evans. The screenplay by Abraham Polonsky was based on the novel by Colin Forbes. Both Shaw and Robson died near the end of shooting.
Russian general Marenkov (Robert Shaw) decides to defect to the West, and CIA agent Harry Wargrave (Lee Marvin) leads the team that is to get him out. Wargrave decides that Marenkov should travel across Europe by train, on the fictional "Avalanche Express". The idea is to lure the Russians into attacking the train, and thus discover who their secret agents in Europe are. Consequently, during the train journey they must survive both a terrorist attack and an avalanche, all planned by Russian spy-catcher Nikolai Bunin (Maximilian Schell).
- Lee Marvin as Wargrave
- Robert Shaw as Marenkov
- Linda Evans as Elsa Lang
- Maximilian Schell as Bunin
- Joe Namath as Leroy
- Horst Buchholz as Scholten
- Mike Connors as Haller
- Claudio Cassinelli as Molinari
- Kristina Nel as Helga Mann
- David Hess as Geiger
- Günter Meisner as Muehler
- Sylva Langova as Olga
- Cyril Shaps as Sedov
- Vladek Sheybal as Zannbin
- Arthur Brauss as Neckerman
- Sky du Mont as Philip John
- Richard Marner as Prachko
- Arnold Drummond as Commissar (Maxim Gorky)
- Paul Glawion as Alfredo
- Dan van Husen as Bernardo
During production in Ireland, both director Mark Robson and starring actor Robert Shaw died of heart attacks within weeks of each other. Monte Hellman was brought in to finish the direction, and Gene Corman (Roger Corman's brother) was called in to complete Robson's duties as producer.
Robert Rietty was hired to re-voice Robert Shaw's dialogue in the opening scene, as it was decided to redo that scene in Russian with English subtitles instead of having the Russians speak broken English. As a consequence, for continuity, all of Shaw's dialogue throughout the film was re-voiced by Rietty.
Hellman, Corman and Rietty were not credited for their work, but the film's end credit contains a note stating: "The producers wish to express their appreciation to Monte Hellman and Gene Corman for their post production services."
- Aubrey Solomon, Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History, Scarecrow Press, 1989 p258
- Monte Hellman: his life and films, pages 130 to 133