Crimson Tide (1995) Poster



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The scene in which the U.S.S. Alabama is diving for the first time, is footage of the real submarine submerging. Tony Scott was following along in a helicopter obtaining shots of the ship. When the Captain of the Alabama requested that the helicopter cease filming, they submerged, which is what director Tony Scott was hoping for anyway.
The U.S. Navy found the subject of the film objectionable and inaccurate. It refused to provide any assistance in the movie's making.
The "Sonar" panels constantly depicted in the film are completely false. The movie version depicts a dumbed down pseudo radar screen, complete with a sweeptrack and bears absolutely no resemblance to a broadband passive sonar display. This was done to give the audience a more visual feel for the otherwise auditory science of Sonar operation.
According to a 1995 Premiere magazine article, when Quentin Tarantino visited the set, Denzel Washington confronted him about his use of the word "nigger" in his films. Tarantino got embarrassed and wanted to move the conversation to a more private area. Washington said, "No, if we're going to discuss it, let's discuss it now." In a 2012 interview with GQ, Washington said that he contacted Tarantino a few years after production and apologized for embarrassing him, asking, "You gonna walk around with that dge] the rest of your life?" He also called Tarantino "a fine artist." The same year, Washington's daughter, Katia Washington, worked as a production assistant on Tarantino's Django Unchained (2012).
The disagreement, between Captain Ramsey and Lieutenant Commander Hunter, over the origin of the Lipizzaner stallions throughout the movie foreshadows and illustrates the fundamental source of friction between the two men, both insisting that their mutually exclusive version of reality is the truth. Ironically, Captain Ramsey (who believes the stallions are Portuguese) and Lieutenant Commander Hunter (who says they are Spanish) are both incorrect. The Lippizaner stallions are in fact Slovenian - they originate from a town called Lipica. However, the horses are generally associated with the Spanish Riding School of Vienna, Austria, so Hunter was technically closer to the truth than Ramsey.
Since the U.S. Navy would not cooperate with the filming, the French Navy allowed the use of one of their Triomphant Class ballistic missile submarines, along with the aircraft carrier Foch for several scenes.
The time that elapses between when Ramsey says to Hunter "You have 3 minutes" and the successful reception of the EAM is 2 minutes and 38 seconds.
Robert Towne received an urgent call from Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer one night, regarding a key scene between Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman. They wanted Towne to rewrite the discussion on the nature of war between the two characters, thus setting up a more plausible potential for conflict, for the remainder of the film. Such was the urgency of the situation, that Towne had to dictate his rewrite over the phone, to Simpson and Bruckheimer, as they recorded his words.
The Alabama's bridge set was built on a huge hydraulic gimbal. The gimbal tilted the set to simulate the submarine's dive angles.
Skip Beard, listed as a Technical Advisor, served as the Commanding Officer of the real U.S.S. Alabama (SSBN 731). He can be seen in the Board of Inquiry scene. He is the man with no hair, sitting next to Jason Robards.
At one point in the film, a sonar operator mentions a Soviet "Akula" class submarine. There are two different Soviet/Russian submarine classes referred to by that name: the Project 971 attack submarine known to the Russians as the Shchuka ("Pike") has the NATO code name Akula. The Project 941 missile submarine, NATO codename Typhoon, is named the "Akula" class in Russian. U.S. Navy personnel would usually use the NATO code-names, so the submarine under discussion, is an attack boat.
Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer originally offered Val Kilmer one of the headlining roles, but he declined. Years later, Kilmer noted it was one of the few films that he wished he had agreed to be in. The role offered to Kilmer, by Simpson and Bruckheimer, was never formally specified.
Al Pacino was originally offered the role of Captain Ramsey. Warren Beatty was also interested in the movie, and Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer went through a long period, trying to convince him to sign on, before all parties moved on.
When Lieutenant Commander Hunter is relieved of duty, Captain Ramsey says "Get Lieutenant Zimmer in here!" Hans Zimmer composed the films soundtrack, and his name was added to the script, to pay him honor.
Ryan Phillippe's feature film debut.
This film marked the first of five collaborations between Tony Scott and Denzel Washington before Scott's death in 2012. It was also the third time Scott worked with James Gandolfini, with whom he would work four times in total.
Denzel Washington took this role so he would have an opportunity to "be in there jousting with a master."
Andy Garcia was one of the early choices for the role of Lieutenant Commander Hunter.
The set used for the bridge of the U.S.S. Alabama, was also used as the U.S.S. Georgia's bridge in Independence Day (1996)
The cigars, that Captain Frank Ramsey and Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter smoke at the beginning of their mission, are made by Montecristo. The brand is made in Cuba, and the Dominican Republic, by two different companies. But Ramsey's "more expensive than drugs" comment, implies that theirs were the Cuban-made variety. Ramsey's cigar of choice throughout the movie is the classic tapered Montecristo #2.
Tommy Lee Jones passed on the part of Captain Ramsey.
Along with Anatomy of a Murder (1959), Glory (1989), Independence Day (1996), and The Dark Knight (2008), this is one of only five films whose purely orchestral soundtracks won the Grammy Award for Best Score despite not being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Score.
Quentin Tarantino was brought in to do uncredited "punch-ups" of the dialogue. His major contribution was the comic book bickering. The character name "Russell Vossler" is a reference to Rand Vossler, with whom Tarantino used to work at a video store. See also Pulp Fiction (1994).
Toward the end of the film, the VLF antenna is raised. VLF is the acronym for the Very Low Frequency radio spectrum, used by submarines because VLF signals can penetrate up to forty meters of salt water. This allows submarines to receive messages while submerged. In addition, the very long wavelengths (10 to 100 kilometers) make it impossible to precisely determine the location of a VLF signal.
The origin of Lippizaner horses resides in 9 stallions and 24 mares of Spanish horses imported by the Archduke Carlos II of Austria in 1580. The Archduke founded the stud farm in Lipizzia (Slovenia). Denzel Washington, states in the film that the horses are actually Spanish, which is partly true. Spanish horses (originally bred with horses from Northern Africa) were bred with horses from Germany, Denmark and local Slovenian horses to create the Lipizzan breed (they're called Lipizzan in American English).
Robert Towne and Steven Zaillian also contributed key scenes. Towne wrote the "Von Clausewitz" scene, having to do with the essential nature of war.
The last 60 minutes of the movie is almost in real time. 60 minutes to launch, 60 minutes to the end credits.
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The name of the submarine is the U.S.S. Alabama. The University of Alabama's football team is called "The Crimson Tide," once led by famous coach Paul "Bear" Bryant. In the film, "Bear" is the name of the Alabama's Captain's dog.
The underlying dramatic plotline of this film was; at the time, a closely held secret in the command and control of the U.S. Navy's Ballistic Missile Submarine force. The "boomers", were the third leg of the "triad" of strategic nuclear weapons delivery systems consisting of: manned bombers, land-based missiles (in underground concrete silos); and, submarine based intermediate range ballistic missiles, as are carried aboard the SSBNs, like the Alabama. The crucial dramatic plotline of this film is; that without the authorization, and the validated order to do so; and, with such authorization and order being in doubt; and, not being positively and affirmatively known; and, not being in the possession of the submarine's Commanding Officer and its qualified nuclear weapons officers; the Commanding Officer (Hackman) proposed; (and his submarine had the capability to); arm and launch the nuclear weapons of his boat, on his and his officer's decisions alone, to do so. Unknown to the American public generally, at the time, and wrongly presumed to in fact be wholly otherwise; this allegedly fictional sequence of events was in fact true. The commanding officers and the nuclear weapons officers of the ballistic missile submarine force; unlike their Air Force counterparts in the then-existent Strike Command (the legendary Strategic Air Command (SAC) was abolished in 1992), had in effect, independent launch authority; should the officers of the submarine agree to such an action. The complete nuclear weapons release protocol (i.e. the permissive action links to arm and launch), existed entirely aboard the sub, and in the training of its crew, and the equipment and systems they were provided. For the land based missiles and bombers, this was not the case. The launch order transmitted by the "football" carrying military aide to the President, for the bomber and land based missile forces had to transmit to those forces, the unlocking codes necessary to initiate the weapons' arming and release (launching) protocols. Without this, the missiles could both never be launched, and their weapons never armed. It was known as positive control. Because of the difficulty of communicating with the subs, at all times on deterrent patrol, and normally several hundred feet beneath the ocean's surface; and also normally operating in total radio silence; a crisis might develop, and the ground based radios to communicate with the subs might be preemptively destroyed. So, the Navy and Defense Department's initial solution; was, to give launch control authority jointly, and individually, to the sub's commander and his officers. This was not generally known until Crimson Tide (1995). With the reduction in global tensions since the 1990s, between the superpowers; and, the vast improvement in ground and space based global communications, the U.S. Navy's "boomers" are now joined in the positive control regime with the other legs of the nuclear triad.
The Alabama's torpedo tubes are located on either side of its hull instead of the traditional bow and stern positions. This is because her bow, like that of most modern submarines, contains a large passive sonar array.
Before the crew loads the submarine, they do the "Roll Tide Roll", which is done before, and during, all of the Alabama Crimson Tide games.
There is another U.S.S. Alabama, a World War II battleship, permanently docked at Mobile Bay, Alabama, that serves as a museum, which has also been occasionally used as a hurricane shelter. Most recently, during Hurricane Katrina, in which members of eighteen museum employee families took shelter during the storm.
Denzel Washington had been doing a lot of boxing before the movie. It was his idea to add the boxing montage.
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Jason Robards, who plays the Admiral in the inquiry scene, served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, and received the Navy Cross (though he is not listed in official rolls of Navy Cross recipients, despite the claims some - not he - have made).
Reportedly, Tony Scott used four cameras simultaneously, for at least a few scenes.
The dockside scene, where Captain Ramsey addresses the crew, shows the U.S.S. Alabama in the background, and after his speech, the crew runs onboard. The sub was actually the U.S.S. Barbel (SS-580), a conventionally-powered (i.e. non-nuclear) attack submarine originally commissioned in 1959. The sail ("conning tower") is a plywood mock-up that generally matched the real Alabama's. Barbel's original sail not only looked different, but had already been removed (the Barbel was about to be scrapped).
According to a Don Simpson interview, Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise were also considered for the role of Lieutenant Commander Hunter.
Gene Hackman's character wears a pink cap, similar to Tony Scott's trademark headgear.
"Eternal Father, Strong To Save" which is playing when the submarine dives for the first time is commonly known among naval personnel as "The Navy Hymn". It can be heard in many movies, such as The Right Stuff (1983), Titanic (1997) and The Perfect Storm (2000).
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The film cast includes three Oscar winners: Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington, and Jason Robards - each of them has at least two Oscars to his name - and one Oscar nominee: Viggo Mortensen.
Hollywood Pictures movie executives, to include studio President Ricardo Mestres, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer, Tony Scott, and writers Michael Schiffer and Richard Henrick, were invited by the Navy to ride the Trident ballistic missile submarine U.S.S. Florida (SSBN-728) with the Gold Crew in 1993, to support research into the movie. The submarine crew was informed that the plot line of Crimson Tide would be "Hunt for Red October meets 2001: A Space Odyssey," where a computer on the ship was trying to launch missiles to start World War III, while the crew tries to prevent it. The crew was instructed by the Navy to demonstrate to the studio executives that there was no computer that could launch missiles. The studio was given full access to film onboard the ship, and videotaped the ship's Executive Officer, Lieutenant Commander William Toti, responding to a fire drill, a flooding drill, and a missile launch, just as Denzel Washington does in the movie. When the studio forwarded the film's script to the Navy several months later, the story had changed to Denzel Washington leading a mutiny. While Bruckheimer later stated that the story was always about a mutiny, some Navy leaders blamed the ship's real XO, Toti, for planting the mutiny storyline in the producer's heads. Four years later, when the ship's XO, then Commander Toti, took command of a submarine in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Crimson Tide screenwriter Michael Schiffer was one of the attendees at his change-of-command ceremony.
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Matt Craven (Lieutenant Zimmer) and Rocky Carroll (Lieutenant Westerguard) went on to act together on NCIS (2003) as Secretary of the Navy Jarvis (Craven) and NCIS Director Vance (Carroll).
The only previous film that has been about an American Naval Officer being relieved of command by his Executive Officer was The Caine Mutiny (1954), in which Humphrey Bogart played the Captain. Bogart and Jason Robards, who appears in this film, have both been married to Lauren Bacall.
Michael Schiffer wrote the part of Captain Ramsey specifically with Gene Hackman in mind.
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The submarine set was also used for scenes in Independence Day (1996), as well as JAG: Shadow (1995).
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As Ramsey reviews Hunter's service record, November 11, 1959 appears as the character's date of birth. Numerous other events have taken place on November 11th, including: birth of General Patton in 1885, President Harding's dedication of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in 1921, the beginning of construction of the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor in 1909, and the date Washington became a state in 1889. The U.S.S. Alabama is based in Washington. General Patton is mentioned in the movie. The actor is actually five years older.
In the prelude, the CNN reporter (played by former NBC correspondent Richard Valeriani) establishes his location as "Reporting live from the French aircraft carrier Foch, somewhere in the Mediterranean." The carrier's namesake, French General Ferdinand Foch, once notably commented, "Aviation is fine as a sport. But as an instrument of war, it is worthless."
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This film reunites Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman since the film Power (1986).
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Gene Hackman and Jason Robards also appeared in Enemy of the State (1998), although they never actually had a scene together.
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Notable Quentin Tarantino script contributions included Hunter calling himself Captain Kirk, dialogue about submarine films The Enemy Below (1957) and Run Silent Run Deep (1958), and Hunter cornering Rivetti about his argument with Bennefield over whether Jack Kirby or Jean Giraud was the better artist to draw the Silver Surfer.
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The movie opens with the statement about the three most powerful men in the world. They are: 1. The President of the United States. 2. The Premier of the Soviet Union. 3. The Captain of a nuclear submarine.
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Some scenes were added by Robert Towne in an uncredited script rewrite.
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Some of the submarine footage was later reused in Agent Red (2000).
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Quentin Tarantino was reluctant to doctor the script because it was not his own project or idea, but Tony Scott, who he had been friends with since Scott directed the Tarantino-penned True Romance (1993), persuaded him. Tarantino said Scott tried to have him come on board later projects in a similar capacity, but he felt it would distract from his own writing process.
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Captain Ramsey's dog is a Jack Russell Terrier which is considered the most intelligent breed of dog.
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The dog that Captain Ramsey has in the movie, is named "Bear". Gene Hackman and James Gandolfini starred together again, in Get Shorty (1995). Gandolfini's character's nickname in that film was "Bear".
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James Gandolfini and Lillo Brancato would go on to costar in the The Sopranos.
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Jason Robards: The Admiral during the inquiry scene.
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Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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