The Hunley (1999)

TV Movie  |   |  Action, Drama, History  |  11 July 1999 (USA)
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CSS Hunley tells the incredible true story of the crew of the manually propelled submarine CSS Hunley, during the siege of Charleston of 1864. It is a story of heroism in the face of ... See full summary »



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Won 1 Primetime Emmy. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Lt. George Dixon
Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard
Lt. Alexander
Simkins (as Christopher Bauer)
Capt. Pickering
Michael Dolan ...
Jeff Mandon ...
Frank Vogt ...
Ronald White
Kevin Robertson ...
Dixon's Wife
Jon Huffman ...
Indian Chief Captain
Dane Ritter ...
Beauregard's Aide


CSS Hunley tells the incredible true story of the crew of the manually propelled submarine CSS Hunley, during the siege of Charleston of 1864. It is a story of heroism in the face of adversity, the Hunley being the first submersible to sink an enemy boat in time of war. It also relates the human side of the story relating the uncommon and extaordinary temperament of the 9 men who led the Hunley into history and died valiantly accomplishing this feat. Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Action | Drama | History | War


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Release Date:

11 July 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

C.S.S. Hunley  »

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Did You Know?


The U.S.S. Housatonic was the first ship ever sunk by a submarine. The second was the H.M.S. Pathfinder, sunk by the German U-boat, U-21, in the fall of 1914. See more »


The double eagle Dixon's wife gives him is accurate for the period but the image is backwards. See more »


Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard: And what about you, Dixon? What did you lose in this war besides a good chunk of your leg? Your wife. I do not wish to be... indiscreet, but I have heard the story. She was on a ferry boat that went down in the Tennessee River - hit by a torpedo... that drifted in from God knows where. How can you bear that?
Lt. George Dixon: I read you lost your wife, sir. I'm sure it pains you to talk about that.
Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard: On the contrary. It helped me to get rid of the trappings of sentiment. She died... giving birth to my daughter. ...
See more »


Remake of The Great Adventure: The Hunley (1963) See more »


Haul Away, Joe
Traditional sea shanty
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User Reviews

Terrific historic portrayal
17 January 2000 | by (Atlanta) – See all my reviews

This is a made for TV dramatization of a true event in history, specifically the story of the Confederate efforts to develop a submersible boat during the civil war. The story opens in Charleston S.C. during the seize and naval blockade of that city by Federal forces. The Confederates were attempting to develop a submarine with a torpedo to be used as a weapon to break the blockade. This is the story of the successes and failures of that effort and follows the efforts of the crew in the development of the submarine (made from a converted boiler) and its ultimate deployment into battle.

The story is a fascinating piece of history; an event that clearly changed the course of naval warfare. Director John Gray did a good job in his portrayal of civil war Charleston during the seize, with citizens attempting to cope and go about the business of day to day living despite the daily bombardment. The scenes inside the boat were particularly well done, giving the viewer a good sense of the claustrophobic quarters in which they had to operate.

Unfortunately, the selection of Armand Assante for the lead character, Lt. Dixon was a mistake. Assante, the consummate tough guy, can be a powerful actor when placed in a suitable role for his skills like ‘Gotti'. But he does not have much range outside that type. In this film he was brittle in his portrayal, playing this role in typical tough guy fashion when the character required more subtlety and complexity. Also, his attempt at a southern accent was abysmal. No matter how he tried, he always sounded like a New York gangster.

Donald Sutherland was good as General Beauregard, but it was a minor role. The bright spot among the cast was Sebastian Roche who played Collins, the tempestuous Irishman. His cockiness and false bravado belied a vulnerable and frightened soul and he played it perfectly. His portrayal of panic during an oxygen deprivation drill was riveting.

I gave this film an 8, despite the miscasting of Assante. It was an entertaining drama with plenty of meat to keep most viewers interested and engaged.

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