Run Silent Run Deep (1958)
Hill-Hecht-Lancaster (United Artists)
Directed by Robert Wise
Produced by Harold Hecht, William Schorr, James Hill
Written by John Gay
Adapted from the novel by Edward L. Beach
Cinematography by Russell Harlan
Edited by George Boemier
Music by Franz Waxman
Kino Lorber Blu-ray
I find it somewhat odd that I live near Annapolis, Maryland, a place where boats and boating constitute such a huge part of the culture, a strange place for someone who doesn’t like the water or boating. I simply cannot understand the excitement of getting on a boat, sailing, drifting, racing, fishing, etc. It’s just one of those things that’s not part of my DNA.
However, I am fascinated by submarines.
I can’t explain it, don’t know why or where this fascination comes from, but it’s there. There’s a guy I know that served on submarines for many years and I can listen to him tell submarine stories for hours on end. And submarine movies? I’ll watch them all, even the awful ones, but the good ones I’ll watch over and over.
As Run Silent Run Deep opens, a U.S. Navy submarine under the command of P.J. Richardson (Clark Gable, right) is destroyed by the Japanese near the coast of Japan in 1942. Tired of a too-slow recovery from behind a desk, Richardson ramrods his way to another submarine command, pushing out the man intended to captain the sub, Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster, left). Bledsoe is understandably angry, made even more so when Richardson wants to keep him on as his executive officer.
A clearly obsessed Richardson runs the crew through an intense series of grueling drills, but Bledsoe consents to it all, obeying (but not liking) the chain of command. As laborious as they are, the drills begin to pay off, and even Bledsoe begins to relax a bit until Richardson makes an unexpected move in the vicinity of a Japanese destroyer, a move that changes everything.
Run Silent Run Deep would be worth watching if only for the fact that Gable and Lancaster square off against each other, a conflict that’s bound to offer plenty of excitement (and it does). But the entire film delivers, thanks mostly to an excellent script by John Gay, adapted from the novel of the same name by Edward L. Beach, Jr. At this point in his career, director Robert Wise was already well established and knew how to work with an editor (George Boemier, in this case) to create a lean, taut tale of action, drama and suspense.
The film also features an excellent supporting cast, including Jack Warden, Brad Dexter, and Don Rickles in his first screen role. Besides Warden, the film also features three actors who would go on to boast appearances on The Twilight Zone: Joe Maross (“Third from the Sun,” “The Little People”), Mary LaRoche (“A World of His Own,” “Living Doll”) and Nick Cravat (above R as Russo, L as the gremlin in “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”).
Run Silent Run Deep is one of the best of a short list of excellent submarine movies and the Kino Lorber Blu-ray looks and sounds excellent. It’s too bad we don’t have more supplements (only a theatrical trailer), especially some of the background stories involving such a powerful cast and director, but this is a Blu-ray release well worth owning.