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.
With Stan Wawrinka’s win at the 2014 Australian Open, he officially ended the so-called Big 4’s reign at the top of the men’s tennis rankings. The following Monday he pushed his way into the top four – past both Andy Murray and his compatriot Roger Federer – to become the #3 player in the world. The Big 4’s stranglehold on the top four places in the rankings had already been broken, but now it seems like with Stan’s win that it was permanent.
The Big 4 (as they were dubbed) were Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. A combination of the four always remained in the top 4 positions in the men’s singles rankings (and kept everyone else out) starting in 2009 to 2012 and won all the majors (with the exception of Marat Safin’s win at the 2005 Australian Open and Juan Martin Del Potro’s win at the 2009 U.S. Open) from 2004 to 2013. Their dominance was not only a physical force, but a mental one as the players ranked beneath them found it difficult to break through the barrier created by them.
Federer began the Big 4 in 2004 with his win at 2004 Wimbledon. Nadal made it a duo with his win at the 2005 French Open. By 2008, Djokovic and Murray were challenging the top two so much that by the next year, these four players made up the Big 4 and no one else could break into the sphere that they had created around the game.
Towards the end of their dominance, there have been several interlopers try and succeed in cracking the Big 4. Del Potro was the first to capture a major in their reign. David Ferrer was the first player not named Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray to break into the top 4 during their reign. Indeed, Ferrer (due to his relentless and successful schedule and injury and subsequent decline of part of the Big 4 – Nadal and Federer respectively) was the first player to crack the Big 4. Although he has received a lot of credit for this, it was Wawrinka’s win that finally put an end to the Big 4 – mainly because of the stage that he did it on – a major.
As with anything that is successful, nothing lasts forever. It was only a matter of time before challengers and personal challenges cracked the Big 4. Three things happened that precipitated the beginning of the end of the Big 4: Federer’s game declined, a prolonged injury timeout by Nadal and back surgery by Murray allowed challengers into the fray. By the time all of this happened and the dust settled, it was the beginning of 2014 and the 2014 Australian Open.
Time and age have caught up to Federer. He simply can’t outrun them, no matter who he employs as his coach or what racquet he uses. Nadal’s (and Djokovic’s for that matter) go-for-broke style of play simply can’t be sustained without sustaining repeated injuries. It was only a matter of time before the Big 4 was no more. It may have started quietly a couple years ago, but now with Wawrinka’s win, it is official. Look for more players to make inroads into the upper echelon over the next two years.
An open letter to WTA CEO Stacey Allaster:
I guess I never knew it before this year’s Australian Open, but I am done with all the shrieking and screaming being bellowed from the lungs of certain WTA Tour players. Done. I really can’t stand it anymore. The shrieking performed at this year’s Aussie open broke the proverbial camel’s back.
I’ve always thought that Victoria Azarenka’s and Maria Sharapova’s over-the-top shrieking was mildly amusing – even entertaining. Back in the day of their emergence as top players, their vocal persuasions were quite entertaining. I read of fans and even players complaining, but I guess I just kind of laughed it off as part of the show. It was never as bad as it is now. Something has changed. It irritates the hell out of me now. Perhaps it’s desperation. Perhaps it’s gamesmanship.
Now, it’s gotten to the point of being totally annoying to the viewer – and a hindrance to the opponent. Remember Serena Williams’ hindrance warning at the U.S. Open when she yelled “Come on!” as Sam Stosur was hitting the ball? That was a hindrance call. Now, I firmly believe that both ‘Shrieka’ and ‘Screamapova’s shrieking is also a hindrance. Both of those unnecessary shrieks reverberate well past the point of contact to the other side of the net when the opposing player is getting set to hit the return (or even hitting it). That is a hindrance call and should be treated as such.
There is also the sonically unpleasing sounds that both of them make. I can’t enjoy the match they’re playing without getting irritated at the sounds. Like I said before: once it was entertaining, even amusing. Now, it’s downright irritating. Imagine what it sounds like in the stadium they’re playing in, or even at court level? Unbelievable.
Monica Seles was the first tennis player to break the sound barrier. I remember players complaining about her grunt. At Wimbledon one year, she was forced not to grunt. She still managed to hit the ball. At least Seles’ grunt was just that – a grunt, not a scream. It was also short and compact. It started just before she hit the ball and ended as she hit the ball. It did not follow the ball over to the other side of the court and definitely not while the other player was getting ready to hit the return.
It’s going to take some real leadership from the WTA to put an end to this. So far it’s been a bunch of hemming and hawwing over the matter. The shrieking really detracts from their skills as a tennis player. It’s getting to be seen a just another way for them to win – a crutch, and an underhanded one at that.
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