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Ice Station Zebra (1968)

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USN nuclear sub USS Tigerfish must rush to the North Pole to rescue the staff of Drift Ice Station Zebra weather station.



(novel), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »



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Dr. Jack Benning


Commander James Ferraday, USN, has new orders: get David Jones, a British civilian, Captain Anders, a tough Marine with a platoon of troops, Boris Vasilov, a friendly Russian, and the crew of the nuclear sub USS Tigerfish to the North Pole to rescue the crew of Drift Ice Station Zebra, a weather station at the top of the world. The mission takes on new and dangerous twists as the crew finds out that all is not as it seems at Zebra, and that someone will stop at nothing to prevent the mission from being completed. Written by Steve Fenwick <scf@w0x0f.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


It's a race for the secret ... or TOTAL DESTRUCTION See more »


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

23 October 1968 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Eisstation Zebra  »


Box Office


$8,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (35 mm prints)| (35 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.20 : 1
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Did You Know?


In Alistair MacLean's source book (of the same name), upon which the film's based, the specialist Arctic combat US Marines platoon did not feature in the book. See more »


Not only did Jim Brown's retention of his cover on his head violate military (not just USMC) protocol, exiting the H2 Seasprite or any helicopter with his cover in place is a serious safety of flight violation, especially that close to the surface. Had the cover been sucked into an engine the helo would have been lost and the submarine seriously damaged. See more »


David Jones: Is it true, Captain, that aboard United States naval vessels, no whiskey is ever served?
[lights a cigarette]
Cmdr. Ferraday: I'm to extend to you every facility, short of endangering the lives of the crew. That could include a pint of medicinal whiskey - if you happen to be seasick.
David Jones: I am - habitually.
See more »


Edited into Fer-de-Lance (1974) See more »


Mission Accomplished
Written and Performed by Michel Legrand Et Son Orchestre
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Thrilling and rousing film in which Rock Hudson is dispatched to a dangerous mission to rescue a spy artifact
8 July 2012 | by See all my reviews

Spectacular film about Cold War filmed mostly in study that won two Academy Award nominations : Cinematography and special visual effects. Captain James Ferraday (this was Rock Hudson's favourite film of his own, and also of Howard Hughes ; Charlton Heston was originally offered the role but turned it down, saying there was no characterization in the script) , Commander of the nuclear submarine called USS Tigershark, is assigned to the polar ice region on a rescue mission when an emergency signal is heard from a research station, Ice Station Zebra (in real life, there was no "Ice Station Zebra", but there was an "Ice Station Alpha" which was situated in a Arctic's Ice Island). On board there is a civilian and possibly a spy named David Jones (Laurence Harvey was originally cast in Patrick McGoohan's role) , whose orders are dark . Ferraday doesn't like being kept in the secret but Jones is strongly secretive and doesn't give much away . Along the way, they collect two additional passengers, a Russian veteran named Boris Vaslov (the recently deceased Ernest Borgnine) , likely also a spy, and an African-American Marine Captain (Jim Brown) . Based on the novel (1963) by Alistair MacLean, Scottish author of Best-seller novels such as "The Guns of Navarone" . It's one of two Alistair MacLean filmed adaptations released in 1968, the other was ¨Where Eagles Dare¨. Changes made from the Alistair MacLean source novel of the same name for this film included the name of the nuclear submarine, the Dolphin, which was re-named the USS Tigerfish and the names of two characters: Submarine Commander Swanson became Commander Ferraday and spy Dr. Carpenter became David Jones .

It is one of the most thrilling and exciting films set on the years of the Cold War. Great superproduction with all-star-cast , impressive scenes , shimmer photography and a vibrant sound , the time has increased its documentary value. The acting of the interesting characters is believable and convincing, especially by Patrick McGoohan and the Russian Colonel well played by Alf Kjellin . Special appearance by Lloyd Nolan and film debut for Ron Masak .The film's story has similarities with the real life events, reported in the media in April 1959, of the Discoverer II experimental Corona satellite capsule that went missing and was recovered by Soviet intelligence agents after it crashed near Spitsbergen in the Arctic Ocean ; Spitsbergen is in Norway's Svalbard archipelago of islands which is where both Alistair MacLean 's novel and the film of Bear Island is set. The screenplay has eloquent dialogue, continuous tension and surprising twists that keep the viewer's attention .The soundtrack by singer and French composer Michel Legrand -"The Umbrellas of Cherbourg"- , is full of vibrant sound , brings a solemn score, cutting edge, played by an orchestra of wind . Colorful cinematography in glimmer color by Daniel Fapp. Unique and innovative underwater camera equipment was developed for this movie by 2nd unit cameraman and cinematographer 'John M Stephens', a former U.S.A. Navy diver, who is billed in the credits for additional arctic photography , the camera system enabled the first ever filming of a continuous submarine dive and this technical innovation produced some outstanding photography for the picture.

The visual effects, despite its quality, not 'see that snow is artificial, that the landscape of the polar station is mounted on set ; his picture is the first of two movies based on an Alistair MacLean novel set in rugged icy and snowy terrain , the second would be Bear Island about eleven years later. John Sturges' filmmaking is absorbent and entertaining , a good job , It's one of two filmed Alistair MacLean adaptations directed by Sturges , the other was ¨The Satan Bug¨ made and released about three years earlier . The production shoot for ¨Ice Station Zebra¨ went for nineteen weeks, from Spring 1967 until October 1967. Rating : Very good , wholesome seeing .

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