During the Cold War, a scientific team refits a Japanese submarine and hires an ex-Navy officer to find a secret Chinese atomic island base and prevent a Communist plot against America that could trigger WW3.
When a handful of settlers survive an Apache attack on their wagon train they must put their lives into the hands of Comanche Todd, a white man who has lived with the Comanches most of his ... See full summary »
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% of its population and in which Russia's war dead totaled more than 300,000. See more »
At the beginning of the movie, when Sidney Poitier is being lowered from the helicopter, his hands switch between black and Caucasian (white) hands. Clearly, the stunt double is white. See more »
A much more subtle, more sophisticated movie than The Caine Mutiny, free of that film's naive stridency. It is not so jingoistic as befits a film from the counterculture of the 1960s when values where under assault. Widmark like Bogie has something not quite right with him. Bogie's Queeg had obvious dysfunctions that were, frankly, a bit too salient for believability. Queeg's love of mindless drilling, his obsessive cleanliness and cowardliness were drawn so broadly; it damaged the movie's credibility. What I love about this movie, besides the unrelenting tension, is the realism of the movie. You will really feel you are aboard the ship Widmark's beating upon MacArthur, coupled with his flinching visibly when the doctor makes the mistake of saying women, can you tell Freudianism was in its heyday? , all are early warning signs something is not quite right with Widmark. The trigger is when a Russian ship lowers it flag as a common sign of deference, when Widmark does not return the courtesy, they proceed to dump garbage in the sea while glaring at him. That does it, Widmark takes it as a personal insult. He stalks back into the bridge,"You still want to exchange courtesies with our Russian friends."
From this point on he begins to come apart at the seems, the reformed Nazi Commodore picks up on it right away. He begins watching him quietly and worriedly. Poitier gives such a great performance; what made him such a powerful actor is, like Brando, he says so much with his expressive eyes. You can tell right away Poitier senses Widmark is a time bomb; watch Widmark go Postal when Poitier gently suggests maybe this is why he has been passed over for promotion; his open contempt for civilian control which he makes no mystery about. The film builds gently to its powerful climax. The events which would have seemed ridiculous are rational consequences of Widmark's flaws carried to their logical conclusion. The movie echoes Dr. Strangelove, while totally humorless, human irrationality coupled with nuclear weapons has but one ineluctable, tragic outcome. In a WW2 ship, the consequences would have been prosaic, here they are cataclysmic. The director, like Kubrick, wants you to see the instrument of Armageddon: human irrationality combined with nuclear technology.
The acting in the movie is above average. Poitier steals the movie and is the best actor here including Widmark. At this point in his life he had been somewhat typecast as a dangerous loony; somewhat the 50s version of Bruce Dern. Widmark did play other roles but in his best movies he is crazy: Kiss Of Death, Road House, and here. This is such a hidden little gem that will surprise you. I am waiting for the blu ray; I may give up and buy the DVD. It is a great movie.
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