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Richard Widmark plays a hardened cold-warrior and captain of the American destroyer USS Bedford. Sidney Poitier is a reporter given permission to interview the captain during a routine patrol. Poitier gets more than he bargained for when the Bedford discovers a Soviet sub in the depths and the captain begins a relentless pursuit, pushing his crew to the breaking point. This one's grim tension to the end. Written by
KC Hunt <email@example.com>
The name of the Bedford's captain, "Eric Finlander" (played by Richard Widmark) is an obvious reference to the nation of Finland, which has a long and troubled history with its much larger neighbor to its east, the USSR/Russia. Finland was actually part of Russia for more than a century and as an independent nation fought Russia in the Winter War and the Continuation War, which together cost Finland 10 percent of its population and in which Russia's war dead totaled more than 300,000. See more »
After shooting down the doctor's plans for the crew, Captain Finlander lowers a brace holding books on a shelf to hand a few of them to the doctor. He doesn't return the brace to its secure position to hold the books - even as they are going to General Quarters status. See more »
Trouble with that kid, he can't forget what a big hero he was. Star quarterback... voted Most All-Around, Most Likely, Most Popular... that one he's still bucking for. The only way to cut him down to size is to keep on him.
Yeah, if he survives.
Well, I hammer too hard, you let me know.
Yeah, it's a lot of work being a mean bastard.
Hmm. Sometimes I can't help admiring how effortlessly you do it, captain. Almost as if it came naturally.
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I saw this film when it was released in the mid 1960s, again on VHS over the years and finally on satelite television. It holds up very well. The theme of obsession in the line of duty is as relevant today as it was when Melville wrote "Moby Dick". The acting is excellent. Hats off to Eric Portman as the West German Navy commodore advisor in submarine warfare. He sort of reprises his roles in the "49th Parallel" and "We Dive at Dawn". He is one Englishman who portrays a great German. Martin Balsam does his usual excellent work as the under appreciated ship's doctor. This also contains yet another of Sydney Poitier's race neutral rolls. Very revolutionary for the mid 1960s ("Lillies of the Field" being another).
The ship model and iceberg scenes seem a bit dated in this digital graphics era but I shudder with cold every time I there is an exterior scene. I sailed in Greenland waters once and I know what is feels like on that grey ocean under that grey sky.
Clearly, this is British production. One interior shot of the ship shows a rack of Enfield rifles, already obsolete by the time this film was made. Not a problem really.
The suspense and tesnion hold up well after several viewings and the inevitable ending is, well, inevitable.
If you did not grow up during the Cold War this film will have less impact than living with the bomb ("The bomb, Alexi, the Hydrogen bomb..." oh, that was another cold war film).
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