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The captain of a submarine sunk by the Japanese during WWII is finally given a chance to skipper another sub after a year of working a desk job. His singleminded determination for revenge against the destroyer that sunk his previous vessel puts his new crew in unneccessary danger. Written by
Kevin Ackley <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The comic character of Russo in this movie was played by Nick Cravat who was a circus partner colleague of Burt Lancaster's from his old circus days. Cravat was known as Lancaster's old personal friend and for having many non-speaking parts alongside Lancaster. This film apparently marked a reconciliation between the two after a long period as well as Cravat having several lines of dialogue in a movie. See more »
In one underwater shot looking up at a torpedo, the wires pulling it are visible. See more »
When it comes that particular sub-genre of "military drama" movies that take place aboard submarines, the canon cannot be considered complete without "Run Silent Run Deep." It's not a flawless film, but nevertheless a very powerful one, and arguably seminal for the genre. This may well be the film which introduced the phrase "Ah-OOOO-gah! Dive, dive!" into the collective consciousness.
Plot synopsis: At the start of the film, it's late 1942, and Commander "Rich" Richardson (Gable) is commanding a submarine attacking Japanese shipping in the Bungo Strait. One of the escorting vessels, an Akikaze-class destroyer, counter-attacks and sinks the submarine with consummate skill. We skip ahead to mid-1943 and find Richardson in a desk job at Pacific Fleet headquarters at Pearl Harbor, obsessing over how to take revenge on the destroyer, which he has nicknamed "Bungo Pete," and which has sunk another three American submarines in the interim. When the position of commanding officer of the submarine Nerka becomes vacant, Richardson manages to wangle the job on the basis that the Nerka's next assignment will be to Japanese coastal waters, an area with which Richardson is well familiar. This, however, sets him at odds with the boat's executive officer, Lieutenant Bledsoe (Lancaster), who had originally been slated to take over command of the Nerka. Due to the losses incurred in the Bungo Strait, Richardson's orders are to avoid that waterway, but it is readily apparent to the viewer that Richardson fully intends to return to the Strait and sink "Bungo Pete." However, "Bungo Pete" is not the only threat that the Nerka faces...
The film's primary flaw is that it places emphasis on the significance of certain facts without explaining why these are significant. This is likely a result of being adapted from a novel. It would be helpful to know, for example, that the Bungo Strait is the waterway separating the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and is one of the two exits from the Inland Sea into the Pacific. It is the obvious route for shipping to and from the military logistics center at Hiroshima, among others, and would therefore be a "target-rich environment" for American submarines. Another commentator on this site asks why a Momo-class destroyer "merely serves as target practice" while the Akikaze-class is considered a serious threat. The answer is that the Momo is a "2nd class" destroyer, older, slower and more lightly armed than the Akikaze. Most importantly, 2nd class destroyers did not have depth charges, and were thus unable to harm a submerged submarine. (It should be noted, incidentally, that what is referred to as the Akikaze-class in this film is more correctly known as the Minekaze class. "Bungo Pete" could not be the historical Akikaze, as this vessel was in the South-West Pacific at the time this film takes place.) As to the question why Richardson opts not to dive when attacked by aircraft, the answer is that a submarine IS visible from the air if it's only at periscope depth, while at the same time, being submerged forces it to run on electric (battery) power instead of its diesels, resulting in less speed and maneuverability. For the Nerka to gain protection from diving, she would have to go so deep that she could not continue the attack against the Akikaze.
The pacing in the film is very good, and the story carries no unnecessary ballast. It was probably to maintain this that much of the exposition was cut. However, this does cause certain events in the film to come off as contrived to the casual viewer, which is unfortunate, because actually the story is very consistent. Like a good detective story, the film gives you clues to future events instead of springing them on you (per the dictum attributed to Chekov that a gun fired in Act III should be visible on the wall in Act I). Gable and Lancaster may, strictly speaking, be too old for their characters, but they play them convincingly, and their interaction--especially Bledsoe's grudging but increasing respect for Richardson--is very credible. There are some war movie clichés, and you can plainly see the wires used on the sub and torpedo models in the underwater scenes, but this was, after all, 1958. If you like submarine movies, you'll love this one.
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