The SkywalkerSwartz Blog

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Submarine Movies

So, what's the best submarine movie? Clearly Das Boot is the classic choice, although The Hunt for Red October, with its Cold War drama and classic Sean Connery lines ("One ping only!") is a close runner-up. Of course, each has its problems: The former is in German (and thus the subtitles will put off a lot of viewers) and the latter requires close attention (otherwise its dense plot will confuse a lot of viewers). Nevertheless, if you only see two sub movies, these should be the two.

What of the rest of the movies?

Well, having ridden the ALABAMA, I am compelled to mention Crimson Tide. It features excellent performances by Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington and an interesting dilemma regarding nuclear war, but in the submarine community it's a laughingstock. Pretty much every scene has multiple errors, a handful of which are on the IMDB goofs page, but the funny thing is that the dialogue is fairly accurate (e.g. what people say when the ship is diving, as opposed to what you see--a fast attack diving!). My guess is that they had a submariner help them write the script, but that they didn't have anybody on hand (or didn't listen to him) during filming.

I wasn't all that thrilled with Run Silent, Run Deep. I honestly don't remember much about the movie, other than when I finished it, I remember thinking, "That is a classic?"

U-571 is a bit silly/trite in points, but is still an enjoyable movie.

K-19: The Widowmaker features a horrific nuclear accident underway and an even more horrific Russian accent by Harrison Ford, but it tells its (true) story well. It's important to note that the Russians' reactors had (and, as far as I know, still have) many fewer safety features than the Americans'!

I recently saw a forgettable submarine rescue movie from 1978, Gray Lady Down, starring Charlton Heston ("Let my people to the surface, Pharaoh!"). In an interesting twist, Gray Lady Down's cast features two stars from the same year's Superman: Christopher Reeve (who of course plays Superman/Clark Kent) as LTJG Phillips, a bit part, and Ned Beatty (who plays Otis, Lex Luthor's bumbling assistant) as Chief Mickey, Stacy Keach's slightly-less-bumbling assistant. For much better sub rescue fare, read the excellent book The Terrible Hours by Peter Maas (there was also a halfway decent TV movie Submerged based on the book, starring Sam Neil (lead in Jurassic Park and XO on the Red October) as Charles "Sweede" Momsen).

However, the most accurate portrayal of submariners and their antics is definitely Down Periscope, the silly comedy featuring Kelsey Grammer. Ask any submariner and they'll tell you the same!

Mike agrees with you and I will take your word for it.
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