Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day weekend is here again

TCM is beginning its annual Memorial Day lineup of war movies around noon today. The prime time lineup for the first night of the weekend is based around submarine movies, with the first being Run Silent, Run Deep, at 8:00 PM ET.

Clark Gable stars as Commander Richardson, a man who's starting the movie at a desk job. That's because he lost his last submarine to the Japaneseat the beginning of World War II. But one of the submarines in the fleet is up for a new commander. Burt Lancaster plays Lt. Bledsoe, the ship's first officer, who believes that having been in such a position for a while, is due ot get a promotion. But no, there wouldn't be a movie if that happened. You know that Richardson is going to be sent back to sea, and that this is going to be one of the causes of conflict between the two men.

Once Richardson takes command and is given his orders, you can probably guess what the other source of conflict is. Bledsoe believes that Richardson is less intent on carrying out the orders he's been given, and more interested in getting the one specific Japanese sub that got his last command. And Richardson isn't acting to inspire any confidence in Bledsoe. Still, Bledsoe has to follow orders. (Apparently, he's seen The Caine Mutiny, which came out a few years before this one.) Most of the rest of the crew, who have known Bledsoe much longer than Richardson, would side with Bledsoe, but will they get that chance? Thankfully, a Japanese sub comes along, forcing them all into collective action.

The one big problem that Run Silent, Run Deep has is that it really comes across as formulaic. We've seen the plot elements before, taken straight from movies like Twelve O'Clock High (the Gable character is much like Gregory Peck's character in the earlier movie), or The Caine Mutiny minus the strawberries. Still, Run Silent, Run Deep is a pretty good movie, with top-notch performances from the two leads, and a nice supporting cast. Jack Warden plays the man who got assigned to the sub along with Cmdr. Richardson and is his one friend on the ship. Brad Dexter plays one of the confidants of Bledsoe. And Don Rickles, of all people, gets a turn in a dramatic movie as the sub's quartermaster. The movie was filmed in part on a submarine, making the sequences more authentic and more claustrophobic, which is a big plus. The tension is quite palpable.

No comments: