Run Silent Run Deep (1958) Poster

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Playing Navy Politics
bkoganbing21 December 2005
This was the second of two films that Burt Lancaster's Hecht-Hill-Lancaster company produced with a co-star from the earlier generation of film icons. Lancaster got the services of Gary Cooper for Verz Cruz and for Run Silent Run Deep, Clark Gable signed on for a hitch in as a submarine captain with a mission that isn't in the orders.

Clark Gable has been desk bound for a year after losing his submarine in the Bungo Strait in Japanese waters. He hears of another submarine coming into Pearl Harbor with a wounded captain who will be on medical leave. So with a little back channel influence playing naval politics, Gable gets command of the U.S.S. Nerka.

He inherits a resentful crew and an executive officer in Burt Lancaster who thinks he should have inherited the job. Gable's going back to the Bungo Stratis to nail the Japanese battleship that sank his former submarine and it's against orders.

The conflict already existing between Gable and Lancaster and the one some in the crew would like to make is what gives the film its spark. Though this is a submarine film, you can see plot elements of Flying Leathernecks and The Caine Mutiny here. Brad Dexter is in the Fred MacMurray role.

If Humphrey Bogart on the Caine had had at least one confidant on board he might not have cracked up. Gable's confidante on the Nerka is Jack Warden who is desk bound with him and transferred with him to the Nerka when Gable got command. Both Warden and Dexter are the best in a good supporting cast.

By the way what Gable is drilling his men in doing is shooting with precise speed and accuracy into the bow of an oncoming enemy ship and then diving for cover in split seconds. Quite a maneuver.

And quite a good film as well.
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Gable and Lancaster on a collision course with the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII. Superb
Mickey-231 January 2003
"Run Silent, Run Deep" featured the only pairing of two screen giants-Clark Gable, in the twilight of his career, and Burt Lancaster, whose best performances were still ahead of him. Sad to say that they couldn't be used in a joint effort again, as the on-screen chemistry was on a supreme height.

Gable plays the commander of a WWII submarine that has recently been sunk in an ara referred to as the Bunko Straits, or Area 7. He has been assigned to a desk job back at Pearl Harbor, and even after a year, is still brooding over the loss of his crew and his boat. Lancaster has a good part, that of the Executive Officer of a sub called the USS Nerka. This boat has just had a command change, Lancaster desires that position, but is passed over in favor of Gable, who senses a chance to return to the Straits and extract revenge on the Japanese destroyer which he feels certain sank his old command. The clash between the two men is obvious, but they put their personal differences behind them, and head for a long lasting combat mission, which against orders, will include Gable's return visit to the forbidden area 7 of the Bunko Straits.

Besides the pairing of two of Hollywood's screen legends, the film features the realism of using an actual ship of the line, the USS Redfish, for many of the shots. Also, the viewer has a chance to feel a part of the underwater tensions and claustrophobic conditions that submariners experienced during times of combat underwater. A must-see, or even better, a must buy film for those that enjoy films of this genre.
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Wise stresses the human emotion of two screen icons..
Nazi_Fighter_David6 January 2004
Warning: Spoilers
After his submarine is sunk by a Japanese Akikase destroyer in the Bongo Straits off the coast of Japan in a 1942 encounter, Commander 'Rich' Richardson (Clark Gable) is put behind a desk for a while at Pearl Harbor...

During a year, the vessel that destroyed his battleship, sinks three other American subs that dare to enter Area Seven home of the Bungo Straits... Richardson is seen, reliving his Bungo failure, with one target in mind: Hunting down and destroying the Imperial Japanese Navy's Submarine...

His chance comes when the captain of another sub, the U.S.S. Nerka, reaches retirement... Richardson eventually convinces the Navy top brass for another chance and is given command...

The crew he inherits is antagonistic, as is his new executive officer, Lt. Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster), who had hoped for the command himself...

Richardson cannot forget the Akikase and his nightmares about it... Determined to sink it, he puts his ship and crew through many difficult training maneuvers anticipating the inevitable encounter...

When he learns of the destroyer's whereabouts, he deliberately announces that the Nerka is going into the Bongo Straits in direct defiance of orders to knock out the Japanese ship...

The pairing of Gable and Lancaster as incompatible but mutually respectful naval officers is at the head of Robert Wise's motion picture... Later, of course, the destroyer against sub action reappears, but the most interesting sequences are when Wise stresses the human emotion of two screen icons, one on the ascent, and the other near the end of his career...

'Run Silent Run Deep' has little resemblance to the book written by Capt. Edward R. Beach, who served on the personal staff of General Omar Bradley during Bradley's tenure as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as naval aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower... The motion picture isn't particularly a great underwater action film, but with Lancaster and Gable in top form— and ably supported by Jack Warden, Don Rickles, Brad Dexter and Lancaster's frequent sidekick Nick Cravat—it remains an interesting study of submariners and their dedication to duty under fire in World War II... The hate-your-enemy attitude remains undiluted however...
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Excellent Submarine Movie
Homer90031 January 2007
The interaction between Gable and Lancaster is something to behold. That and the story, the tension and the realism of men under attack. Yes, the special effects are not to the "high" standards of today, but they serve the story well and do not detract from the important drama. As one poster said, this movie would be ill served in color as would Das Boot in B&W. An overall excellent adaptation of the book and as far as the points not explained, all the better. I hate movies that stop the action to then explain to a character what that character is about to experience/see/do, etc. Give the movie goer credit for being able to fill in the gaps. A must have for any WWII movie collection.
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Great film!
grahamsj316 September 2002
WOW! is all I can say. This is the most realistic submarine film of it's day. I don't think anybody equaled this film in this genre until Das Boot was released nearly 30 years later. Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster star in this epic about a submarine and a mission. Others have commented at length on the basic story, so I'll leave that alone. Only a couple of details bothered me. The men were all too clean and well-shaven to be sub sailors. Some of the last WWII US Subs built had air conditioning, so that could explain the cleanliness and lack of condensation in the boat. Still, the entire crew should have been growing beards for the entire length of the cruise since water was too precious to be used for shaving or bathing while at sea. The only shipboard scene that I felt was unrealistic was one scene in the crew's mess. The space shown is far too large to have been aboard a US Fleet boat. Otherwise, I found the film to be a great depiction of the way life was aboard a US sub during WWII. The acting is superb by the entire cast, but it should be with names like Gable, Lancaster and Warden. This is one of the greats!
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A "War" movie that succeeds at all levels
RHKLWK24 March 2002
This is a wonderful movie depicting the experience of one United States Navy submarine during the Second World War. The "Silent Service" never looked better.

It is filmed in black and white, which is (possibly) a salute to the "Victory at Sea" series of a few years before, but this film would not work as well in color (in contrast with "Das Boot," which would not work as well in black and white). Like "Das Boot," the sets are realistic and give the viewer an intimate feeling of the claustrophobia that existed on these small subs.

The script is excellent, although I have one recommendation: Try to watch this film in a "closed caption" mode. I hear fine, but when I watched it a second time in closed captioned, I picked up even more, particularly the names of the crew.

Gable and Lancaster are a little too old for the roles they are playing. But, this is a small complaint in comparison to their remarkable performances. It's easy to think of Gable as "Rhett Butler," no more and no less, but this film illustrates what a very fine actor he was. Lancaster is excellent, and gives a preview of his Oscar-winning turn in "Elmer Gantry," just a year or two later.

This is an old-fashioned film made with the able assistance of the U.S. Navy, and one cannot help but feeling a little pride in our nation and gratitude for our brave WW II veterans, after watching it. Highly recommended.
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Indispensable submarine movie
Euromutt14 May 2006
When it comes that particular sub-genre of "military drama" movies that take place aboard submarines, the canon cannot be considered complete without "Run Silent Run Deep." It's not a flawless film, but nevertheless a very powerful one, and arguably seminal for the genre. This may well be the film which introduced the phrase "Ah-OOOO-gah! Dive, dive!" into the collective consciousness.

Plot synopsis: At the start of the film, it's late 1942, and Commander "Rich" Richardson (Gable) is commanding a submarine attacking Japanese shipping in the Bungo Strait. One of the escorting vessels, an Akikaze-class destroyer, counter-attacks and sinks the submarine with consummate skill. We skip ahead to mid-1943 and find Richardson in a desk job at Pacific Fleet headquarters at Pearl Harbor, obsessing over how to take revenge on the destroyer, which he has nicknamed "Bungo Pete," and which has sunk another three American submarines in the interim. When the position of commanding officer of the submarine Nerka becomes vacant, Richardson manages to wangle the job on the basis that the Nerka's next assignment will be to Japanese coastal waters, an area with which Richardson is well familiar. This, however, sets him at odds with the boat's executive officer, Lieutenant Bledsoe (Lancaster), who had originally been slated to take over command of the Nerka. Due to the losses incurred in the Bungo Strait, Richardson's orders are to avoid that waterway, but it is readily apparent to the viewer that Richardson fully intends to return to the Strait and sink "Bungo Pete." However, "Bungo Pete" is not the only threat that the Nerka faces...

The film's primary flaw is that it places emphasis on the significance of certain facts without explaining why these are significant. This is likely a result of being adapted from a novel. It would be helpful to know, for example, that the Bungo Strait is the waterway separating the Japanese islands of Kyushu and Shikoku, and is one of the two exits from the Inland Sea into the Pacific. It is the obvious route for shipping to and from the military logistics center at Hiroshima, among others, and would therefore be a "target-rich environment" for American submarines. Another commentator on this site asks why a Momo-class destroyer "merely serves as target practice" while the Akikaze-class is considered a serious threat. The answer is that the Momo is a "2nd class" destroyer, older, slower and more lightly armed than the Akikaze. Most importantly, 2nd class destroyers did not have depth charges, and were thus unable to harm a submerged submarine. (It should be noted, incidentally, that what is referred to as the Akikaze-class in this film is more correctly known as the Minekaze class. "Bungo Pete" could not be the historical Akikaze, as this vessel was in the South-West Pacific at the time this film takes place.) As to the question why Richardson opts not to dive when attacked by aircraft, the answer is that a submarine IS visible from the air if it's only at periscope depth, while at the same time, being submerged forces it to run on electric (battery) power instead of its diesels, resulting in less speed and maneuverability. For the Nerka to gain protection from diving, she would have to go so deep that she could not continue the attack against the Akikaze.

The pacing in the film is very good, and the story carries no unnecessary ballast. It was probably to maintain this that much of the exposition was cut. However, this does cause certain events in the film to come off as contrived to the casual viewer, which is unfortunate, because actually the story is very consistent. Like a good detective story, the film gives you clues to future events instead of springing them on you (per the dictum attributed to Chekov that a gun fired in Act III should be visible on the wall in Act I). Gable and Lancaster may, strictly speaking, be too old for their characters, but they play them convincingly, and their interaction--especially Bledsoe's grudging but increasing respect for Richardson--is very credible. There are some war movie clichés, and you can plainly see the wires used on the sub and torpedo models in the underwater scenes, but this was, after all, 1958. If you like submarine movies, you'll love this one.
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Wartime clash of the titans...Gable and Lancaster...
Doylenf29 May 2005
A submarine story that sticks to a simple "clash of wills" storyline without the inclusion of sub-plots and worn-out clichés that existed in so many WWII war stories is RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP. It proves without a doubt that CLARK GABLE and BURT LANCASTER were not only genuine classic stars but extremely good actors when given a solid script. And under Robert Wise's no nonsense direction, the cast of submarine sailors delivers the goods in realistic fashion, avoiding the sort of stereotypes often seen in these kind of war stories.

The main action involves Gable's revenge motif. He's like a Captain Ahab, fervently determined to sink the Japanese destroyer that took the lives of his former crew members a year earlier, just as Ahab ran after the whale. His motives are questioned by the man originally selected to be Captain, his second in command Burt Lancaster. It's the clash of wills between these strong personalities that gives the film its punch and keeps the situation tense and taut until the final battle.

Franz Waxman's score is almost non-existent, one of the chief shortcomings for me, as I always expect great things from Waxman. Here he opted for silence on the soundtrack when the situations get tense, as when the depth charges are sinking to the bottom of the ocean, barely missing the submarine. Perhaps this was a wise decision, since the sounds we do hear are those the sailors aboard the sub are experiencing while waiting tensely in their claustrophobic surroundings.

It's an admirable war film, graced by two excellent performances from Gable and Lancaster, both convincing in their display of authority and command. Although models are used in the battle scenes, all of the action looks very realistic thanks to some excellent B&W photography. Kudos to Robert Wise for keeping the whole story brisk and supercharged.

It never drags for a moment, as some of the other big wartime movies like DESTINATION TOKYO did. The script is taut and concise without resorting to any arbitrary love interest or humorous shenanigans which would have weakened the drama--and it's all told in a tense running time of 94 minutes.
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Good Suspense In This World War II Sub Story
sddavis637 September 2002
A good story and good performances from good actors leads inevitably to a really good movie, and that's what you get with this movie set on an American submarine patrolling Japanese waters during World War II.

Clark Gable plays Commander P.J. Richardson, reduced to a desk job at Naval headquarters in Pearl Harbor after the submarine he commanded was sunk by the Japanese. After another sub returns to base needing a new captain, Richardson convinces the brass to give him another shot, and he sets out on a quest for revenge, seeking the ship that shot his first sub out from under him. Among other challenges, Richardson has to put up with the wounded ego of his Executive Officer, Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster) who believed the command should have been given to him, and with the hostility of the crew, who would have preferred Bledsoe.

The story of Richardson's quest for revenge, of his efforts to gain the trust of his crew and of his ultimate fate is full of suspense and you will not find your attention wandering at any point of this movie. It is an excellent story, well worth watching.

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Who cares if this is over 50 years old?
shortround839118 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
After watching the great "Crimson Tide", I sought out to see more legendary submarine flicks. And while I was in Blockbuster, I saw "Run Silent, Run Deep" on the shelf and I remembered that movie being mentioned in "Crimson Tide" during the whole "submarine movie trivia" sequence on the bus. And the question that was asked was who the submarine commander in this movie was. And the guy answered "That guy with the ears and the mustache, Cary Grant." For those of you don't know what the answer was, it was really Clark Gable, and those massive ears and the thin 'stache were his trademarks throughout his career.

And once I picked up the DVD case, I showed it to my mother and she immediately saw the two actors on the front (Gable and Burt Lancaster) and told me how famous those two were. But the truth is, I didn't even know who those two guys were, obviously because of my young age at 17. But after I decided to rent it since it couldn't do any harm, my mother told me about the kind of acting legends that Gable and Lancaster were on the ride back home. But of course, it was a bunch of romance flicks that she told me about (Gone with the Wind, Elmer Gantry etc.), but I knew that if Gable and Lancaster were practically legends, and that this was a submarine film, I knew I might've started loving this. And strangely enough, I did. And I didn't even care for the fact that it was black and white, and the fact that it's 51 years old.

When it came to movies, I realized for the first time that my mother was right about Gable and Lancaster. Those two had real acting skill and were 2 of the best I've ever seen. But now in Hollywood we get too many male/female models who act and they have no talent. But I get to see what it was like in the old days when Hollywood cared about talent over money, fame and hotness.

Clark Gable is the submarine commander named P.J "Rich" Richardson. Rich is haunted by his memories of a Japanese battleship that destroyed his sub and his crew. For over a year, he dwells on that memory and wants vengeance more than anything. And then when a younger guy named James Bledsoe (Lancaster) heads a new sub that would be heading out into the Pacific to combat the Japanese, Rich abruptly takes command after convincing his superiors. And of course, Bledsoe isn't too happy about it but keeps his cool. And during the mission, Rich disobeys orders just to get the sub into the restricted areas which pushes the crew to planning on a mutiny, and causes tensions to rise between the two commanding officers (and I guess this is how Crimson Tide got that idea……).

The acting is excellent, thanks to Gable and Lancaster, we can feel the tension going on between these two. Oscar-winning acting in the 1950's was no different than it is today, and Gable and Lancaster could exhibit powerful human emotion especially when the 2 men clash over the safety and lives of the crew. And you're gonna find yourself siding with the both of them; you might side with Rich because of his quest for revenge even though he has to be doing the unethical to achieve his goal and Bledsoe just cares about the lives of the crew and even risked the sub being spotted when he ordered them to rise up to prevent a crew member from drowning. But by the end, the 2 men basically become each other when Rich realizes that revenge might not be worth it and when Bledsoe decides to go after the Japanese destroyer even when they're on their way home. Excellent character development to go along with the great story.

The action was, for its time, very well done. To be honest I expected much worse from the special effects, but you can still see what's going on with all the torpedoes and the subs underwater. And especially the explosions of the ships, while they were black and white, they still captured the grim reality of warfare on the ocean.

Also the thrills will make your heart pound like it did to mine and if the thrills were any more thrilling, I would've fainted. The scene at the end when the two subs face-off is among the best underwater battles I've seen in my life. The suspenseful part came when the fighter planes were dropping the bombs onto the sub underwater, and when one of the bombs hits the top of the sub and rolls over to explode and barely misses is when I nearly bit my fingernails off. And this was all perfectly edited and directed by the genius Robert Wise.

And another thing, that pin-up girl that the crew slaps on its back-side before battle is a total icon to me and it's hilarious. I wish that I had a poster like that at home, haha, but that's just the boy in me talking. And I think that was even referenced in "Die Hard" when John McClane pats a similar poster of a girl on the wall, and given Die Hard's reputation, that has clearly gotta be saying a lot about "RSRD". And I'm gonna remember that part forever because it displays the crew's humanity as men.

I'll admit that I said before that "Crimson Tide" was my favorite submarine movie of all time, but now I'm on the fence, because "Crimson Tide" took the idea of two submarine superiors clashing, from RSRD. And I'm not sure when I'm gonna decide. But anyway, this is a classic in its own right with two legendary actors and a great story about vengeance set in World War II.
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Brilliantly realized War drama about obsession and fear
wtdk12319 June 2005
One of the most influential war films from the 50's, "Run Silent Run Deep" had a huge impact on projects as diverse as "Das Boot" to "Star Trek" (the episode "Balance of Terror")due to Robert Wise's ("West Side Story", "The Sand Pepples", "The Andromea Strain", "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", "The Haunting", "The Day The Earth Stood Still", "Somebody Up There Likes Me!" and numerous other classic motion pictures) taunt, claustrophobic direction and the intelligent script by John Gay ("The Court Martial of George Armstrong Custer", "Sometimes a Great Notion")gives actors Clark Cable and Burt Lancaster material to sink their teeth into.

The plot, like Melville's "Moby Dick", focuses on obsession; Commander Richardson (Gable) finally has a new command after time spent at a desk. His last command sunk by a Japanese destroyer returns to haunt him; when he and his crew (featuring a marvelous group of character actors led by jack Warden, Don Rickles and Brad Dexter)of run into the same destroyed he obsessively hunts it down and, in turn, is hunted putting his crew and latest command at risk. This puts him into direct conflict with his second-in-command Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster). To paraphrase Lee Marvin's character in the film "The Big Red One", in war it isn't murder it's killing. The tunnel vision effects everyone in a crisis but when a commander is obsessed with his own revenge, it destroys the men's morale and puts the crew in jeopardy.

A thoughtful, penetrating drama that doesn't have men debating the merits of their morality but integrating it into their actions, "Run Silent Run Deep" deserves to be a deluxe release on DVD (much like the recent reissue of "The Day the Earth Stood Still")but probably won't receive it. "Das Boot" (all three versions)is a great film looking at similar circumstances but "Run Silent Run Deep" has the edge because the film rarely leaves the confines of the boat once the drama truly starts. A submarine is a crew member's entire world. Any threat to it could destroy that pressurized hot dog and wipe out everything including their important mission.
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What is that Captain?I cant make that out.
nelliebell-117 April 2004
Warning: Spoilers
These are the words that are if you will spoken once to often.Because they are not lost on the dying Commander Richardson it occurs to him and while quite stricken and weak climbs out of his bunk and hurries to the con with orders for Captain Bledsoe to take her down,crash dive.The Burial of Bongo Pete is not far off.This film has long had a favored place on my list of very good Hollywood films.This film provides the viewer with the way things might of been aboard a US submarine during world war II.If you by any chance get the feeling that things were cramped,they were.In this neck of the woods where I live there is a World War two submarine docked in its namesake naval museum called the USS Ling.This submarine saw limited duty during World War Two however the logs show that she was used as a training sub for most of her Active duty life.I personally took a tour some years back and its a long way to the Crimson Tide(USS Alabama).I do not know how to see these Hollywood films as they are poor compared to the real thing,however this film works because it is well cast and well performed,even Don Rickles does not seem to be to far off the mark.I would of liked to see Gable get back to Pearl however I felt the exit was to early, some thing we were not aware of caused that to occur.It is similar to the sinking of all those subs occurring in Area 7 in the latter part of 1942 again it is suggested that the notorious Destroyer Yakakase was not such a crack shot after all.An aging Gable did well in this film and a young first officer in Lancaster was very capable if not a crack shot.I was not so happy when the second attempt made by the USS Nirka under the command of Lancaster was almost given a free ride.There were no planes,and if you watch the film the first time in at 1800 yards she is being shelled by the Japanese destroyer and then some.It was truly fortunate that they were able to fool the pursuit into believing that they had been sunk.The second time in,even at 1500 yards the Japanese Destroyer Yakakase did not fire a shot.In fact the celebration seemed a little out of place due,perhaps to the fact that it was not real,I believe it was due to Bungo Pete(the unknown factor)which we were to here from very soon.This film does well but not as well as perhaps it could of.I gave this film a 9 out of 10 because for one thing when this film was originally done Lancaster was one of the Actors who were able to go out to sea on board active duty submarines in order to get to know first hand life aboard a submarine.It, as well as the instruments, were a lesson in technology all by them selves.Its hard to say and perhaps it was justified that there was some resentment towards Commander Richardson because orders are not always easy to follow in particular when there is a decided favorite.Take your pick? Nonetheless this is a good film worth viewing and viewing again.There are some questions that you might be able to be satisfied with but perhaps it might be good enough to leave well enough alone.Top rate Entertainment!
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Duel of great stars into a submarine : a veteran Gable and an impulsive Lancaster
ma-cortes27 October 2008
This interesting underwater drama concerns about an exciting battle of wits . Clark Gable stars as a veteran commander who is scheming to revenge during a dangerous voyage and solid Burt Lancaster as the second-in-command who attempts anticipate his every move . Tensions run high and rise between commandant Rich and Lt. Jim Bledsoe and the crew (Brad Dexter , Jack Warden , Don Rickles and 'Nick Cravat', usual pal of Lancaster) , as they set out from Pearl Harbor to destroy a Japanese cruiser . The veteran sub commander risks his crew when he's seeking vengeance . The crew is pushed to the brink of death by risked mission executed by avenger captain whose former submarine the Japonese had to blow up .

This nail-biter is a tightly-knit drama centered on the sea maneuvers going after a Japan's mightiest battleship of the Pacific . The film is famous as one of the best WWII submarine movies , though some scenes at sea , however , suffer from the utilization of obvious scale models in a just as obvious studio tank . Underwater shots were filmed with miniatures at the large inland Salton Sea in Southern California . Screenplay by John Gay from a book by commandant Edward Bleach . Atmospheric musical score by Franz Waxman and appropriate black and white cinematography by Rusell Harlan. The motion picture was meticulously mounted by Robert Wise who always manages to make a course correction in the nick of time and delivers another direct success . However , producers James Hill and Burt Lancaster had the film re-edited after director Robert Wise finished his cut . Then Wise left the film after this point for the rest of post-production.

The film originated a big hit into submarine sub-genre , along with : 'Torpedo run (1958)' by Joseph Pevney with Glenn Ford and Ernest Borgnine ; and subsequently , 'Das Boot(1982' by Wolfgang Petersen with Jurgen Prochnow ; 'Hunt for red October (1990)' by John McTiernan with Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery ; 'Crimson tide' by Tony Scott with Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman ; 'K19' with Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson , and several others .
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Gable and Lancaster are well matched.
Hey_Sweden13 January 2015
Clark Gable plays "Rich" Richardson, a submarine commander whose previous boat had been sunk. He's subsequently given a new sub to command, and a new XO in Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster). While back at sea, he's itching for some payback, and disobeys direct orders from his superiors to avoid a certain area. Soon, the commander and the crew will find themselves stalked by a stealthy enemy.

What's truly impressive about "Run Silent Run Deep" is how utterly convincing it is. The filmmakers, led by the talented director Robert Wise, were sticklers for accuracy, and everything looks and sounds authentic. There's no melodrama to be found here, nor is there any bloat: the film clocks in at a reasonable one hour and 33 minutes. All of the tension is genuine, and the storytelling is done in an efficient, no-frills style. Franz Waxmans' score is excellent, but the absolute best scene comes late in the film when score and sound effects are dropped out. The suspense then becomes extremely palpable.

Lancaster, a star who subscribed to the theory of balancing projects done for artistic reasons and ones done for commercial reasons, delivers a wonderful low key performance as the lieutenant who doubts his commanders' ability to lead but never oversteps his boundaries. Gable is appropriately intense, and these two men get a good odd couple chemistry going as their characters butt heads. The top notch supporting cast are all 100% believable: Jack Warden, Brad Dexter, Don Rickles (who does have some amusing moments), Nick Cravat, Joe Maross, Eddie Foy III, and Rudy Bond.

Even for a film released 57 years ago, the special effects are reasonable and don't distract from the scenario one bit.

This is a very fine example of the war / submarine genre.

Eight out of 10.
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As WWII wears on, the once feared submarines become the hunted by destroyers.
Deusvolt31 July 2006
A destroyer is relatively small, slim and can easily dodge torpedoes. They proved to be the death of many submarines in WWII. Destroyers were used as escorts screening supply convoys, merchant shipping, capital battleships, aircraft carriers and oil tankers. Their most effective weapons against submarines were the sonar and depth charges.

Commander Richardson (Clark Gable) lost a submarine under his command after firing torpedoes at a Japanese troop and supply convoy. The Japanese destroyer simply run down his submarine as it struggled to submerge. Not quickly enough though as it was split in two. Tragically, Richardson lost some of his men. He was demoted to a desk job and earned the reputation of a loser among sailors.

The experience led him to devise a tactic on how to escape after torpedoing an enemy ship. He figured that it was not enough to run away from a destroyer because it can easily hunt his sub down with sonar and depth charges. The pursuing destroyer must be sunk. How? It moves so much faster than a submarine that it is impossible to hit it broadside. It also dropped depth charges as it circled the submarine in an ever tightening "noose" maneuver.

Richardson thought that if a sub charged a destroyer head on firing torpedoes as it submerged, the enemy ship can be hit on the bow sharp. This calls for speed, precision timing and perfect aim. So he drove his men to exhaustion and frustration as he made them do a new drill for the special maneuver he had in mind. The scenario was this: Fire torpedoes at an enemy aircraft carrier, tanker or whatnot. Then as a destroyer gives chase, instead of submerging at once and running away, the sub will charge the destroyer head on as in a game of "chicken." At this position, the destroyer cannot yet make effective use of its depth charges as they are released at the stern. The front guns of the destroyer are also at an awkward elevation in relation to the sub lying low in the water. The sub may have enough time to fire at least one torpedo or at the most two before it is rammed by the destroyer. The trick then is to fire while submerging at the same time. Remember, this was in the days when torpedoes had no teleguidance and the sub's commander and crew relied entirely on their instinct for the right buoyancy, depth, speed and angle of descent as they submerged as to when to fire the torpedoes at the critical moment for the proper aim. I am curious as to whether this was actually done in WWII.

It was bad enough that Richardson's men resented him but his own XO, Lt. Bledsoe, whom he edged out of command of the submarine by using his connections, also hated him with a passion viewing his drills and new tactic as criminally dangerous and unworkable.

If you liked this movie, watch The Enemy Below starring Robert Mitchum and Kurt Jurgens for a better understanding of submarine vs. destroyer warfare.
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Deep -- and murky
rmax30482315 July 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Submarine movies are almost always fun to watch. Everyone crowded together, sweating, all that obsolete technology, sliding down ladders, hatches clanging shut, the popping rivet, the depth charges, the man left on deck as the sub plunges beneath the waves, the wisecracking crew, and the commands -- "Rig for silent running." "Rig for Depth Charge." "Crash Dive!" "Take her down to fifty feet." "Open outer doors one and two." "After torpedo room, report damage." "Come right to course one five zero." It's like going to mass.

"Run Silent, Run Deep" thankfully has no romantic side interest. The special effects are echt-1950s -- back projections, rather obvious model work. But it's fairly well done, for its kind. The major conflict is between Captain Gable (looking puffy-eyed, as if just coming down from battery acid) and Exec Lancaster, who was deprived of the command through direct intervention by Gable, who has his own agenda.

Gable's first boat was sunk in the Bungo Straits. Now he intends to disobey orders and take his new boat back to the same spot, kind of obsessed with revenging his lost shipmates. The crew come to think of him as just as mad as Captain Ahab following HIS obsession. Gable drills the crew over and over in order to get them to dive in exactly 32 seconds. (Thirty-seven won't do.) He does other odd things without explanation. He ignores a Japanese sub, ignores a convoy. He sinks a Momo destroyer with "a shot that isn't even in the books." The purpose of all this odd behavior is to sink the Akakaze, the destroyer that apparently got his last boat, as well as three or four others in the Bungo Straits. Let us simply say that in the end, Gable enters his house justified, or in this case his ocean.

There's a lot of tension aboard the boat, of course, what with the captain keeping his plans all to himself. The problem is that the story itself doesn't really make any sense. Here, presented in no particular order, are some questions that kept nagging at me.

1. Gable sinks the Momo destroyer with a down-the-throat shot as practice for pulling the same stunt with the Akakaze destroyer. "The Akakaze is no Momo," someone points out, "The Akakaze never misses." What's the difference between a Momo and an Akakaze? Why does one serve merely for target practice, while the other never misses? How can you tell one individual destroyer from another individual destroyer through a submarine's periscope? We're never told the answer.

2. Gable's plan involves attracting the destroyer, steaming on the surface as the destroyer approaches, firing at the sub, submerging in 32 seconds, then firing a head-on shot at the destroyer. Why thirty-two seconds? What's so great about 32 seconds? Why not dive five seconds earlier and let the process take 37 seconds? Answer: as far as we can tell, it makes no difference at all, except that shaving off the additional 5 seconds enhances the alienation of the crew from the captain. This is known as a "plot device."

3. The boat and the Akakaze finally meet, and the Akakaze turns head-on as planned, but the boat comes under air attack. At this point, Gable, alone on the bridge, hollers down the hatch, "We'll have to make this a surface attack." Why? Why doesn't he follow through with his original plan to submerge? The boat would be protected against air attack and the original plan could be followed without modification. (As it is, the surface attack fails.) Why does being attacked from the air compel a submarine to remain on the surface? Answer: Only Gable knows, and he took his secret with him.

4. After each destroyer attack -- whether the destroyer is sunk or not -- some mysterious morse code comes in on the radio. It turns out to be coming from a nearby Japanese submarine whose presence is unexpected. Why is the Japanese submarine betraying its presence by using its radio, since its effectiveness depends on its remaining hidden? Answer: They really ARE inscrutable?

5. Just after sinking a freighter and the Momo destroyer, Captain Gable avoids firing at a Japanese convoy they encounter because he doesn't want to give away his position. What's the point? He has just torpedoed and sunk two Japanese ships. The second ship, the Momo, had ample time to signal that he was under torpedo attack and that, therefore, there was an enemy submarine around. Answer: No excuse, sir.

6. At the end, after they have sunk the Akakaze, they hear radio signals that seem to come out of nowhere. A radioman asks, "What is that, sir. I can't make that out." Are they all stupid? The signals are in nice clear CW, although the message is just a jumble of random letters and numbers, nicely transmitted. Any competent operator would know that they were coming from an antenna that was close by. If you have a loud transmission coming from a nearby antenna in the middle of the ocean and you sweep the horizon and there are no surface ships, what conclusion is logically forced upon you? Answer: seagulls.

7. The crew has been driven nuts by all those practice dives designed to prune their time to submerge down to 32 seconds. At the end, with the Akakaze steaming head-on as planned, although they have plenty of time to dive, they take her in on the surface and launch torpedoes at the prearranged distance. The plan works and the Akakaze is blown to bits. What was the purpose of all those demanding practice dives? Why was the original plan discarded? Again, nobody knows.

Nick Cravatt, Lancaster's old circus buddy, is in this film too. He is even given a speaking part, mostly comic. He was better in those parts where, like Harpo, he was mute. His ingenuous overacting was endearing. Lancaster's performance is toned down. We don't get to see that mile-wide grin filled with gleaming ivory tombstones.
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One of the best submarine dramas
JamesHitchcock20 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Films about submarine warfare have long been a popular sub-genre of the war film, possibly because their claustrophobic setting allows ample scope for psychological analysis and character development. There were a number produced during and in the years following World War II, such as this one or the British-made "Above Us the Waves", but there have also been more recent examples such as the German "Das Boot" (also about World War II) and "The Hunt for Red October", "Crimson Tide" and "K-19 The Widowmaker", all with a Cold War setting.

"Run Silent, Run Deep" shares with the last two films mentioned above the theme of a conflict between the submarine commander and his second- in-command. In all three films the two men have very different personalities and in each case the commander is an obsessive, driven character while his executive officer is more relaxed. All three films cast two major stars opposite one another- Gene Hackman and Denzel Washington in "Crimson Tide", Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson in "K-19" and Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster here.

Gable's character, Commander P.J. Richardson, is the captain of a submarine which is sunk by a Japanese destroyer in the Bungo Straits. He persuades the Navy Board to give him command of another submarine, the USS Nerka, thus bringing him into conflict with the Nerka's executive officer, Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe, who possesses the necessary qualifications for command and believes that he should have been promoted to the captaincy. The crew also dislike Richardson, a strict disciplinarian who forces them to go through endless drills, and would much prefer to serve under the more easygoing Bledsoe. As the film progresses it becomes clear that Richardson is obsessed with avenging the loss of his previous submarine by sinking the destroyer responsible, even though he is under orders to avoid the Bungo Straits. The purpose of his repeated drills is to perfect a daring manoeuvre which he believes will give him an advantage over the enemy ship.

The film is on one level a tense and exciting action/adventure drama, and works very well as such. On a deeper level, however, it is also a psychological study of the two men and a study in style of leadership. Both Gable and the scriptwriters resisted the temptation to make Richardson a simple villain. Certainly, he is a difficult, prickly character, unpopular with the crew and his subordinate officers. His cavalier interpretation of orders would not win him many friends among his superiors if they knew what he was up to. Yet his leadership inspires his men to brilliant feats of seamanship, enabling them to sink three Japanese vessels. Although on a human level the likable Bledsoe is well-versed in the arts of making friends and influencing people, he is also more cautious and pragmatic. There is a strong implication that, had he been in command, the crew might not have accomplished so much.

The two men are very well played by Gable and Lancaster. In 1958 Gable was of course coming to the end of his career- he only had another two years to live, although in that period he was to make another five films- but Lancaster's still had another thirty years to run, and the film came at a time when his career was undergoing a change of direction. Although there had been exceptions, such as "The Killers" and "From Here to Eternity", most of his films from the forties and fifties had been action adventures in which he had played physically demanding roles. For a war film, "Run Silent, Run Deep" does not contain much in the way of physical action- most of the action sequences were created using models- but rather looks forward to the sort of thoughtful, character-driven movies in which Lancaster was to specialise in the sixties and seventies.

Robert Wise is today best remembered as the director of those two famous musicals, "West Side Story" and "The Sound of Music", but he was a versatile director who could work in most genres, including films noirs, Westerns, disaster movies and war films. "Run Silent, Run Deep" is never going to equal something like "The Sound of Music" in the affections of the public, but it serves as a very good example of another side of Wise's talents. It rates as one of the best submarine dramas ever made. 8/10
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That's great actor John Gibson in the role as 'Captain Blunt'
Matthew_Capitano8 September 2015
Pretty good war film with a fine performance by Clark Gable as 'Captain Richardson' who heads for a forbidden target position called the Bunghole Straits. Also appearing in an uncredited role is excellent actor John Gibson as 'Captain Blunt' who near the beginning of the film tells Lancaster that he'll have to wait for a command.

When Richardson receives a new sub, he heads his ship for the Bunghole Straits to try and take on the Japanese on his own terms. Burt Lancaster and Don Rickles are in the cast. Rickles is a humorous presence even when he's not trying to be humorous. Good action and suspense with the usual dramatic subplot of crew jealousy involving who should get command of what.

Gable and Gibson are the stars here. One of the better war films, this one is set almost entirely on the submarine.

To the Bunghole Straits!
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The Bungo Straights?
thejcowboy2214 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Nothing like watching an action packed Submarine movie on a Fall afternoon during football season. Normally I would watch my beloved G-Men, (The New York Football Giants) take on their NFL opponents but this year things are different. Arrogant uninformed NFL players are taking a different approach by refusing to stand for the National Anthem. They feel that their being profiled due to the color of their skin so kneeling or sitting is their defiant message to America. Legally they can do what they want. I am personally offended cause I was taught to stand in honor of our great Men And Woman who serve in our military. As for the movie our star is the elder Iconic Clark Gable who plays a Submarine commander P.J. Richardson who lost his ship earlier and wants revenge against his Japanese destroyer Captain nemesis Bungo Pete. Bungo Pete is responsible for the sinking of three U.S. Ships in the hazardous waters of the aforementioned. A frustrated desk bound ex-commander Richardson tries to influence the Navy Board to commission him with another sub. The board agrees but with the condition that his first officer is someone who is seasoned in active duty. Enter first officer Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster). Richardson evenhandedly trains his new crew for his sub the USS Nerka with one proviso issued by his superiors is that they are forbidden to enter the dangerous waters of the Bungo Straights. Richardson and Bledsoe quickly are on the offensive as I enjoyed the cat and mouse activities of Naval warfare. Watching Gable on patrol watch and issuing the famous cry, "DIVE DIVE DIVE!" Lancaster as the patient and obedient first lieutenant who handles the in-fighting as certain members of the crew who are insubordinate. Lancaster's acting was so natural as his dis- pleasure of Gable's command comes through naturally. There's a good reason with Lancaster's annoyances with Gable. Lancaster was the producer of this film and ran things on a tight schedule. Everyday at 5:00 Gable would call it quits. Even in the middle of crucial scenes, Gable would walk off the set. Don Rickles and Jack Warden stand out as active crew members in this underwater thriller. Rickles questioning authority and Warden dissatisfied with his commanders decisions. This all surfaces with an exciting confrontation you won't want to miss. You also see a declining elderly Gable who appears just a shell of a man against the strong and confident Burt Lancaster the new generation of Hollywood's heart throbs to take over the reins. Digesting my earlier statements about the kneeling protests, I feel everyone has the right to show their beliefs for the betterment of a cause or injustice at least a few times but I feel the NFL should address the problems and needs head on and come to some sort of agreement.
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aside from Das Boot, one of the very best submarine flicks
MartinHafer2 August 2005
There's really nothing to knock about this excellent submarine film. The acting was stellar--with Clark Gable giving a generally restrained performance and Burt Lancaster doing a fine job as his second in command. The writing and directing were also very good and are meant to appeal to the intelligent and discerning viewers. Although not exactly upbeat, I like the way the movie ends--it may be a bit of a downer for some, but represents the sacrifices that are often made in war. As a result of all these pluses, it is an even better film than the exceptional Destination Tokyo. However, considering the absolute care and devotion to detail in the German film, Das Boot, it must rank as perhaps the second-best submarine film of all-time.
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Excellent actors, an interesting plot.
chanesaw11 December 2000
This is one of my favorite movies. While not as technologically accurate as Das Boot, it is an entertaining film which will capture your attention and leave you satisfied at the end. The development of the tension and conflict between Clark Gable, the submarine commander, and Burt Lancaster, his first officer, as their conflict over the purpose and method of their mission evolves is fascinating. There are very good and tense battle scenes in this film, and once you have seen it, the phrase, "We'll take her with decks awash," will be branded in your mind forever.

The setting is World War II, Pacific Theater, and anyone interested in war movies focusing on that epic era will doubtlessly place this one on their favorites list. I have seen it several times, intend to view it again, and highly recommend it.
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The Best Submarine Movie
Wayner5031 October 2006
Warning: Spoilers
"Run Silent, Run Deep" is a super sub movie. Two Hollywood legends, Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, are in top form as a sub commander and his executive officer, respectively. Old hands Brad Dexter, Jack Warden and Don Rickles head a good supporting cast. The film portrays the danger, dirt, grease and claustrophobia of a WWII submarine patrol. The movie is based on a memoir by a WWII submarine officer, so the accuracy is there. A quick outline of the plot is that Cmdr Richardson (Clark Gable) had his sub hit and sunk in the Bungo Straits, a very dangerous hunting area for U S subs. After his rescue, he's brought back to Hawaii, and is assigned to a new sub. His second in command, Lt Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster), meets him and they don't exactly hit it off. The boat goes out on patrol, and Richardson wants to return to the Bungo Straits. Bledsoe isn't so sure that's a good idea or in accordance with their orders, but Richardson finds "conditions of special advantage", and the boat goes there. After several tense chases and pursuits, Richardson discovers the Japanese secret tactic which has sunk his sub and others. This is a great undersea war story. Fans of WWII films and sub movies will be rewarded with a great story, top drawer acting and terrific action.
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desperation and obsession above and below the sea.
michaelRokeefe8 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Torpedos full ahead! This classic is probably the best example on screen of the everyday life and working on a submarine. Commander Richardson(Clark Gable)waits a year after losing his ship to get command again of a submarine to stalk the Japanese destroyer that haunts his every dream. He will have to battle with his first officer Lt. Bledsoe(Burt Lancaster)who vied for this same command. The crew is also balkish to Richardson and his obsessive drills to make that one big kill. This is superb WWII sub action.

Supporting cast includes: Jack Warden, Brad Dexter, Don Rickles, Joe Maross and Rudy Bond. Kudos to acclaimed director Robert Wise and to Franz Waxman for the original score and the photography of Russell Harlan.
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The Consummate Submarine Movie
Bob-4515 July 2004
Warning: Spoilers
The Consummate Submarine Movie

The Bungo Straits has become a graveyard of. In less than a year, it's claimed four American submarines, mysteriously sunk without firing a shot. `Bungo Pete', the Yakakazi class destroyer responsible, has become a dark apparition in the eyes of US Pacific Fleet submariners. No one knows this more than Commander P.J. Richardson (Clark Gable); the captain of the first submarine sunk by `Bungo Pete'. Now, Richardson is determined to take a submarine back to the Bungo Straits and sink `Bungo Pete'. But first, he must overcome the doubts and resistance of his executive officer (Burt Lancaster) and crew.

Taut, suspenseful and action packed, `Run Silent, Run Deep' is completely effective, except for the last scene.


The ending is abrupt and detached. Lancaster's indirect references in his requiem to Gable are an inappropriate honor for a man who had so bravely risked his career and given his life for his fellow submariners.


Gable is terrific and the tough, determined Richardson. He should have received an Oscar nomination. For most of the film, Lancaster is assured as the Exec. However, his flat line readings in the last scene suck most of the life from it, leaving me feeling detached and unmoved. Most of Lancaster's problem in that scene is due to the dialogue; instead of praising Gable, it addresses him indirectly. That's a cheap requiem for a brave Of the supporting cast, Jack Warden should be particularly singled out. He brings authority and class to what could have been a throwaway part. Don Rickles `wise guy' approach also brings welcome levity to the intense surroundings. However, I must mention Nick Cravat as the cook. Anyone who's seen Cravat as a mute in `The Crimson Pirate' probably wondered if Cravat actually could speak. After hearing him here, I can understand why they chose to make him a mute in `Pirate'.

However, the best thing about `Run Silent, Run Deep' is the action, suspense and incredibly realistic special effects. Ships exploding never looked this good or this real again until `Star Wars'. Pity, Otto Preminger didn't hire this special effects team for `In Harms Way'.

`Run Silent, Run Deep' is a terrific submarine movie and is vastly superior to the book. It is only slightly marred by the anticlimactic ending, which is no way denigrates what came before. I give it a `9'.
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Sometimes Simpler is Better
mlevans1 August 2002
Warning: Spoilers
Submarine movies are among the rare war films that manage to avoid the often awkward entanglement of romance between battle scenes. A little romance never hurt anyone, of course, but very rarely has a love interest been inserted into a war film without looking hopelessly out of place and detrimental to the overall quality of the film. (i.e., In Harm's Way, Midway, The Caine Mutiny, Pearl Harbor, etc.)

Other than Operation Petticoat, which really wasn't a war movie at all, this is one danger that most sub films can avoid. Of course other dangers lurk ahead, like invisible depth charges, waiting to blast a film off course. A submarine crew is going to be doing, essentially, the same thing over and over, with varying degrees of success. This is one drawback of the lengthy director's cut of Das Boot.

In Run Silent, Run Deep, though, we have a compact, well-edited little film that tells its story and then shuts up. It may not be the best submarine film ever made, but it would not be torpedoed by any others, either. Directing legend Robert Wise is at the helm, taking a break from horror flicks and musicals, to send Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster into battle against the Japanese.


Gable and Lancaster both show why they were top drawing cards in their day, pitted against each other in a battle of wills that needs no plastic romance to break up the scenes. Gable plays Captain R. J. Richardson, a man with a mission to avenge the destruction of his previous sub, at the hands of the Akakazi, a top-of-the-line Japanese destroyer, operating in the Bungo Straights. He pulls enough strings to get command of a sub which Lancaster (Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe) was scheduled to take over. Naturally Bledsoe is not pleased to see a recent desk jockey use leverage to take the command he rightly felt was his. Richardson refuses to let him transfer, though, so the drama is set to commence as the sub heads for sea.

Like the Caine Mutiny, Mutiny on the Bounty, and other films, Bledsoe feels called to `relieve' Richardson as captain, after he realizes Richardson plans to make another attempt at the Akakazi, after narrowly avoiding destruction and losing three men in their first battle with it.

Without giving away the rest of the plot, this is a good old-fashioned war movie. All of the action is either inside or on the deck of the tiny sub after the fist 20 minutes or so, yet things never stagnate. The tension builds between the two officers and the life and death struggles of the crew and its machine against the hardware of the enemy make time stand still. Although special effects have come a long way since 1958, sometimes simple is better. The eerie stillness and pitch blackness of the ocean shots as the crew silently waits for depth charges to explode, is riveting. When they do explode and light up the silhouette of the sub, the effect is about as good as any CGI today could produce.

The cast is great with wonderful veterans like Jack Warden and Don Rickles adding their professionalism and polish to the production. Of course, Lancaster and Gable both turn in outstanding performances. Has any captain ever had a more commanding voice for crying `Dive! Dive!'?

Run Silent, Run Deep is not as long, nor as complicated as many war movies and also avoids the temptation to tack on an ill-fitting romance or to philosophize about war and peace or US versus Japanese morality. It merely tells the story of a man determined to avenge the death of his earlier crew and another man determined to keep HIS crew from going to the same watery grave. This is one of the better submarine films ever made and is still a fine family film that has lost none of its watchability or poignancy.
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