Top Ten Submarine Movies
|Dive down the list of the Dixon family's submarine movie
And as ever, if you're interested in checking out the flicks for
yourself, just click on the title to be whisked away to Amazon...
- Run Silent, Run
This one stars Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster. The original ad campaign said TERRIFIC
TOGETHER! And they are. The tension rises when Gable pulls rank to get command of his old
sub back, acing Lancaster out of the job. More action in the Pacific as the men face the
Japanese navy and themselves. Look for Don Rickles in a supporting role.
- Up Periscope
James Garner is an underwater demolitions expert assigned with a dangerous mission.
By-the-book sub captain Edmund O'Brien has to get him deep into Japanese waters. The two
clash immediately and things go from bad to worse on a mission that seems doomed before it
begins. A very suspenseful surface action against a strafing Zero is the highlight of this
one. This is my wife's favorite. It's very good but suffers from being set-bound in the
- The Enemy Below
This time the good guys are on the surface and the badguys below. Robert Mitchum is the
new skipper of a destroyer escort in the South Atlantic. He finds a German U-boat
captained by Curt Jurgens on its way back to the fatherland. An excellent cat and mouse
game ensues as the two warriors use trickery and raw courage to outwit one another. This
one benefits from lots of outdoor locations and the full use of an actual US Navy escort.
- Das Boot
The German point of view this time in an excellent and absorbing film by Wolfgang
Peterson. But it's a typically German flick full of dour moods and a downer ending. But
the claustrophobic feeling of the film and the dynamite performances make this one a
winner. German subs were more cramped than American ones. They were slightly smaller and
crowded. One bunk served two men as they went off and on shifts. This film puts that
across in a big way.
- Destination Tokyo
A wartime entry. Cary Grant's the skipper and John Garfield shines as usual as a feisty
torpedo mate. Nail biting suspense as Grant and crew enter Tokyo Bay to shoot Tojo's
shipping like fish in a barrel. But how the hell are they gonna get out?
- Above Us The Waves
A British film based on the true story of the mini-subs designed and built for use in the
Scandanavian fjords where German warships thought they were safely anchored. This one
chronicles the ultra-secret mission to sink the German battleship Tirpitz moored far up a
Norwegian fjord. Exciting and nerve wracking.
Not yet available.
- The Hunley
That rarity of rarities, a TV movie worth seeing again. Armand Assante is brooding and
driven in his role as the Captain of the Hunley, the experimental Confederate submarine
built to break the Union blockade of Charleston, South Carolina during the Civil War. It's
a great period piece and the action is thrilling. The sacrifice and valor of the men
entering this new and frightening theater of war are highlighted without the usual
quibbling about the Southern Cause.
Not yet available on DVD.
- We Dive at Dawn
Another British film. A straight ahead wartime adventure that takes time to show the
suffering of wives and family left behind. John Mills leads a cast of intrepid submariners
who are obsessed with sinking as much Nazi shipping as they can. Refreshingly, none of the
stodginess of other Brit war flicks made at this time. These guys are as gung-ho as their
American cinema counterparts. Fun stuff.
- Operation Pacific
John Wayne looks too darn big to serve in a submarine. But this is a sturdy wartime flick
with plenty of action and a woman's touch thanks to Patricia Neal. Nowhere near as good as
Wayne's other WWII naval flick, THEY WERE EXPENDABLE, but it's good nonetheless
You may've already noticed the absence of
HUNT FOR THE RED OCTOBER, CRIMSON TIDE, U-571 and ICE STATION ZEBRA. The last one is fun
if silly. The others don't make the cut. OCTOBER is dull. CRIMSON TIDE is derivative
Hollywood junk with tension aboard that is contrived and ultimately stupid. And U-571 gets
my vote as the worst submarine movie ever made. And there have been some stinkers. What
can I say? We're picky about our sub movies around my house.
©2004 by Chuck Dixon. All Rights Reserved. No part of this
article may be reproduced without permission.