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Mr. Bloom is retired from tax law consulting, but has written extensively on military and naval historical topics over a 40 year period, with some 60 articles in military and naval journals and several encyclopedias. His book on the Roman-Jewish war was published in 2002. He lives in Silver Spring, MD with his wife.

A I though I haven’t discovered any statistical validation, I have no doubt that submarines far surpass contemporary surface vessels as topics for popular entertainment. In presenting my survey of submarines in literature and mass media, I realize that my selections are far from comprehensive, and I will no doubt overlook some reader’s favorite. I trust that I have covered the most significant examples. The more fundamental cases are presented in some details. giving plot summaries, and key issues, while others are briefly annotated.

Originally I intended that this article would consist of an inventory of fictional submarines, underwater vessels that have been identified by name in imaginary tales, cinema or television but do not really exist as such (often sections of a real submarine are used as stage sets, but the real name is not used). However, readers will note that I have included some books and films that purport to describe actual boats; however, poetic license. the demands of the market (especially with respect to the exorbitantly expensive production costs of movies). or simply the constraints of censorship (disclosure restrictions) on ex-servicemen, has transformed these epics from documentaries to docudramas or faction (mixture off act and fiction).

I got the idea for this feature while working on my article, Nemo ‘s Nautilus that appeared in the April, 2006 issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW. Another incentive was my acquisition of a rare 1910 book by one Captain Danrit titled The Sunken Submarine, which is actually an English translation of a work by Emile Driant a prolific French author of future war fiction of the 1890s and early 1900s-the run-up to the Great War-when such cautionary tales were in vogue. Since there is no credit given to the French original, the book may or may not be a compilation of the French author’s La guerre fatale en sous-marin, Les exploits d’un sous-marin, Robinsons sousmarins, and Le sous-marin : le Vengeur all of which were published in France circa 1902-1904. The book concerns only the episode wherein the mythical French experimental submarine, DRAGONFLY, suffers a disaster while on trials off the coast of Morocco and only the journalist/guest survives the episode to tell of his miraculous escape from the doomed boat. I am an aficionado of these pre-WWI takes of the looming conflict, several of which feature submarine warfare as extrapolated from the Holland, Norenfeldt and Lake boats that were running trials during this period. As fascinating as this literature is, it requires a bit more research (and translation) on my part to deal with the early prophets of undersea combat. I note that Jules Verne’s TWENTY THOUSAND LEAGUES UNDER THE SEA, published in 1870 was not, contrary to popular belief, the first instance of the submarine in fiction. That honor goes to Theophile Gautier, another Frenchman, who had a short story published in 1848 with a submarine integral to the plot: Les Deux Etoiles. The exploration of this literature, which would include such gems as the popular juvenile fictional work Tom Swift and His Submarine Boat or, Under the Ocean (or Sunken Treasure by Victor Appleton, even though its technology is daffy, and Gaston Leroux’s La Bataille Invisible [translated as The Veiled Prisoner, London: 1923] a knock-off of Jules Verne, featuring a submarine filled with bizarre gadgetry, will have to await an article dedicated to this genre. Meanwhile, I decided to provide a quick tour of the invented worlds of undersea adventure.

I freely mix literature, film and television, since many submarine epics straddle all three media. I refer readers to my aforementioned article on Verne for detailed consideration of the earliest fictitious Nautilus from both a technical and literary aspect.

The first category that caught my attention is the wave of more or less propagandistic films that appeared during World War II to galvanize Americans behind the home front effort by demonstrating why we fight, to borrow from Frank Capra’s inspirational series under that title.

One propagandistic film, Delmer Daves’ quintessential submarine feature film Destination Tokyo (1943), starred Cary Grant as the captain of a submarine crew on a dangerous mission to Tokyo Bay.

The captain of the fictitious submarine USS COPPERFIN and his crew accept the secret mission of infiltrating Tokyo Bay in order to supply intelligence for the up-coming Doolittle Raid, (see Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo another wartime propaganda film from the aviators’ viewpoint). Scenes inside the submarine were shot in sound stage sets (which were constructed to be very unrealistically spacious). Exterior shots frequently use miniatures; a few show different Gatoclass boats. Made during the early phase of World War II when the US Navy was on the defensive, the film was effective propaganda.

As the submarine nears Tokyo Bay, the Captain informs the men that the ship must negotiate the mine fields on the bay’s perimeter. When a returning Japanese cruiser and two destroyers approach the bay, he decides to follow them into the bay and thus avoid the mines. That night, Wolf, Raymond and Sparks go ashore to make the observations necessary for a future air attack on Tokyo.

While the men are away, Tommy is discovered to have a ruptured appendix, and Pills operates with the help of an instruction book and improvised scalpels. When the men on shore finish their surveil-lance, Raymond, who was reared in Tokyo, broadcasts their findings in Japanese. Despite this precaution, the Japanese decide to investigate the broadcast location, and the men narrowly escape discovery. Using the radioed information, the air attack on Tokyo begins, and the men of COPPERFIN watch it through their periscope.

After the attack, the submarine again slips through the mine fields by following a Japanese ship. The submarine’s position is later revealed when the crew torpedoes a Japanese aircraft carrier. Other Japanese ships bomb COPPERFIN, which is badly damaged. When the submarine is unable to evade the destroyer that is following it, Cassidy orders the men to attack. The destroyer is sunk, and the submarine heads back to San Francisco, where Cassidy’s wife and children are waiting at the dock.

When this film was being produced, Gato class subs were, in fact, beginning long-ranging commerce raiding forays deep into the heart of the Japanese maritime lanes, but this feature was not known to the public at the time, so the film makers had to fall back on the Doolittle-type undersea lone wolf raiding counterpart.

The above film has been discussed in more detail than of those covered in the balance of this article, because it is a prototype of the modem submarine saga.

Archie Mayo’s hard-hitting Crash Dive ( 1943) starred Tyrone Power as an ace PT boat skipper whose assignment to a submarine (commanded by Dana Andrews) led to victories against the Nazis in the North Atlantic, replete with the obligatory romantic adventure subplot (with love interest Anne Baxter). Alfred Hitchcock depicted eight survivors from a torpedoed boat adrift in Lifeboat ( 1944), which portrays enemy submarines from the victim’s viewpoint as a patriotic survival epic. Director Dick Powell’s The Enemv Below ( 1957) dealt with submarine warfare in the Atlantic as a cat-and-mouse chess match between two dueling commanders (Robert Mitchum as the captain of an American destroyer, and Curt Jurgens as the captain of a German U-boat). Another seminal submarine film was Robert Wise’s Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) with Burt Lancaster and Clark Gable as two clashing submarine officers. In the same year, Torpedo Run (1958) starred Glenn Ford as an obsessed and merciless WWII submarine commander. You can see a pattern emerging here: the confined, cramped, and isolated sub as a pressure cooker, setting off all the psychotic quirks that might otherwise lie dormant.

World War II (lite) continued to be represented in a somewhat humorous vein in a few forgettable films. USS STINGRAY (SS-161) is a fictitious U.S. Navy diesel engine submarine featured in the 1996 comedy film Down Periscope. The Stingray was played by the USS PAMPANITO (SS-383), a still-seaworthy World War II Balao-class submarine that is now a memorial and museum ship in San Francisco.

The 1959 movie Operation Petticoat, starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis, and the short-lived 1977-1978 television series of the same name, were set aboard a fictional SEA TIGER. The sub was most-closely based on the actual WWII-era submarine USS SEALION (SS-195), which like its film counterpart, was sunk at the pier at Cavite Navy Yard, the Philippines, on 10 December 1941 with the loss of5 crewmembers. The SEA TIGER in the movie was portrayed by three different American WWII era submarines: QUEENFISH (SS-393), in the opening and closing scenes (circa 1959), in which the “393” on the conning tower is visible, ARCHERFISH (SS-311 ), for all the WWII scenes where the boat was painted the standard gray and black, BALAO (SS-285), for all the scenes in which SEA TIGER was painted pink.

On a more sober note, two notable recent films provided a relatively sophisticated, high-tech experience of what it must have been like to live and work aboard a World War II boat. Both are worth considering at some length as taking the WWII sub film to a new level.

U-571 is a 2000 movie directed by Jonathan Mostow, and starring Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Jon Bon Jovi, Jack Noseworthy, Will Estes, and Tom Guiry.

In the movie, a German submarine is boarded in 1942 by disguised American submariners seeking to capture its Enigma cipher machine. This movie was shot in and around Malta.

The film is loosely based on the capture of U-110 by the British Royal Navy. The film was slammed in the UK for its portrayal of an Enigma capture by an American, as opposed to British, crew. A German U-Boat, designated U-571, sights a British supply ship in its periscope and sinks it with a torpedo. Seconds later, a British destroyer moves in, forcing U-571 to dive. The destroyer drops depth charges which disable the submarine. The destroyer moves away believing it sunk the enemy. U-571 resurfaces but is stranded. The captain who had lost his engineering team following the attack orders his radioman to signal the Lorient U-Boat base to send a resupply ship using the Enigma.

Meanwhile, the officers of the US Navy are celebrating the wedding of Larson. During the party, Lieutenant Tyler comes in with a solemn look on his face because he didn’t get his own submarine to command. After complaining about it to Captain Dahlgren, he’s rebuffed and upset. Suddenly other Navy officers come in saying their shore !eave’s over. All the men go to the submarine docks to find their boat, the S-33, being converted into a U-Boat. Tyler rounds up Radioman Wentz who can speak German as well as English, a Marine named Coonan, and another Navy sailor named Hirsch who’s fluent in German too. The ship goes off to sea and Hirsch explains to everyone what the mission is. The Navy encoders detected radio signals from the disabled U-571 and they are going to be the resupply ship it called for. Coonan says that the Enigma device is onboard and that he will lead a boarding party to capture the U-Boat and liberate the Enigma. Then they’ll scuttle the ship so the real resupply sub will think U-571 was too late. Tyler is skeptical about this but goes along.

Back on U-571, the repairs are not going smoothly and the captain is alerted that there are other men out in the water. He sees several survivors, from the merchant ship he sank, on a lifeboat asking for asylum. He orders his men to shoot them which they reluctantly do.

During a rainstonn, the S-33 comes across U-571 and sends its boarding party over. They talce the ship by force, losing some sailors in the process. Larson is injured during the fighting later. They capture the Enigma and begin rounding up the prisoners including the captain. Afterwards, the S-33 is torpedoed and sunk by the real resupply sub and the captain is killed. Coonan, Larson, and many others are lost as well so Tyler takes command and orders his men to dive the ship and look for the enemy. They fire a salvo of torpedoes that destroys the enemy U-Boat leaving only one torpedo in a busted tube.

Tyler and his men search for survivors and find two: the black cook from the S-33, Eddy, and the captain of the U-571.

Critics were quick to point out some historical inaccuracies, In reality, the first capture of an Enigma machine and associated cipher keys from a U-boat was made in May 1941 by the British, who captured U-110. There were some 15 captures of Naval Enigma material during World War II, of which the Americans and Canadians carried out one each (U-505 and U-774, respectively), while the British performed the rest. The U.S. Navy did not seize German Naval Enigma material until June 1944, when it captured U-505. The British captures provided critical information for breaking Naval Enigma, so that by the time of the U-505 capture the Allies were reading Naval Enigma routinely.

Thus, the film caused irritation and anger in Britain. The film was discussed at Prime Minister’s Question Time where Tony Blair agreed with a questioner(a Member of Parliament) that the film was an affront to British sailors. In response to a letter from a British MP, US President Bill Clinton wrote assuring that the film’s plot was only a work of fiction. David Balme, the British Naval officer who led the boarding party aboard the U-110, was positive about the U-571 (“a great film”, arguing that the movie would not have been financially viable without being Americanised. Controversy aside, the film is quite good at conveying the atmosphere and conditions aboard WWII vintage boats.

In 2006, screenwriter David Ayer admitted that U-571 distorted history and stated that he would not do it again. Ayer told BBC Radio 4’s The Film Programme that he did not feel good about suggesting Americans captured the Naval Enigma cipher rather than the British.

“It was a distortion … a mercenary decision … to create this parallel history in order to drive the movie for an American audience,” he said. “Both my grandparents were officers in World War Two, and I would be personally offended if somebody distorted their achievements.”

The movie has also been criticized for a scene in which the U-boat crewmen machine-gun Allied merchant crewmen who have survived their ship’s sinking, killing them in cold blood as they float helplessly in their lifeboat. The implication is that the killing of survivors was typical U-boat behavior; critics of the U-571 movie, however, point out that this is an incorrect depiction of typical U-boat crew behavior. In contrast to the depiction of U-boat men in the movie, U-boat crewman almost universally followed the accepted rules of war; in a number of incidents, they helped survivors with food, directions and occasionally medical aid. Assistance to survivors only stopped after Admiral Karl Donitz issued the Laconia order following a US attack on U-boats transporting injured POWs under a flag of truce. In fact, out of several thousand sinkings of merchantmen in World War II, there is only one documented case of a U-boat crew deliberately attacking the ship’s survivors: that of the U-852, whose crew attacked survivors of the Greek ship Peleus.

There was a real German submarine designated U-571, but that vessel was never involved in events depicted in the film.

Das Boot, released in 1981, is a feature film directed by Wolfgang Petersen, adapted from a novel of the same name by Lothar-Gunther Buchheim. Hans-Joachim Krug, former first officer on U-219, served as a consultant, as well as Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, the actual captain of the real U-96.

The movie has a strong anti-war message. One of Petersen’s stated goals was to guide the audience through a journey into madness, showing what war is all about. Petersen heightened suspense by very rarely showing any external views of the submarine unless it is running on the surface and relying on sounds to convey action outside the boat, thus showing the audience only the claustrophobic interior the crew would see. The original 1981 version cost OM 30 million (US$40 million in 1997 dollars) to make; it was at the time the most expensive film in the history of German cinema. The director’s meticulous attention to detail resulted in an extremely realistic and historically accurate movie. The movie is the story of a single mission of one U-boat, U-96, and its crew. It depicts both the excitement of battle and the tedium of the fruitless hunt, and shows the men serving aboard U-boats as ordinary individuals with a desire to do their best for their comrades and their country. The story is based on an amalgamation of the exploits of the real U-96, a Type VIIC-class U-boat commanded by Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock, one of Germany’s top U-boat to1111age aces during the war.

When the U-96 launches into the sea, Werner is in awe and takes a lot of photos of the submarine and its crew. He gets to know the rest of the crew, like Johann, the Mechanic (Erwin Leder), Chief Bosun, and some crewmen like Ullmann, Pilgrim, Frenssen, Dufte or Schwalle. He marvels when the submarine makes its first dive to 150 meters. But time passes, and he begins to realize the routine of being crammed together with 40 people in a small space with almost no ventilation. There is an unhealthy undercurrent of sweat, filth and boredom, fuelled by the fact that there is nobody to fight against. Werner has no one to talk to. He cannot relate to the battle-hardened Captain, the quiet LI, the Nazi I WO, the cynical 2WO or the tough crew.

The U-96 crew look forward to returning home to La Rochelle, but then the High Command orders that their new destination be La Spezia in Italy, meaning the U-96 must cross the bottleneck at Gibraltar, which is crawling with British ships .

In Gibraltar, the U-96 attempts to break through the British barrier, but it is shot at by British forces, forced to dive and-heavily damaged-starts to sink to its doom. The U-96 falls to 280 metres in depth, but just before the hull breaks, the submarine lands on a sand bar on the ocean floor. Numerous hull breaches occur, water floods in, and the battery cells and the water pumps are damaged, but the crew manages to make repairs and to resurface just before they would have suffocated. Seriously damaged, the U-96 returns under cover of night to its base in La Rochelle.

The crew gets a heroes’ welcome in La Rochelle, but during their reception, allied fighter planes bomb and strafe the facilities. Several crew members are killed, among them Johann and the 2WO. Werner finds the Captain, also seriously wounded, who sees his boat sinking to the dock’s bottom. When the submarine disappears, the Captain dies.

The movie drew high critical acclaim and is seen as one of the best German movies of all time, classed together with art films such as Nosferatu by F.W. Murnau, Metropolis by Fritz Lang and Der blaue Engel with Marlene Dietrich. It is rightly regarded as highly important among the subgenre of submarine movies.

There were a few quibbles. In the movie, there is only one ardent Nazi in the crew of 40, namely the First Lieutenant (referred to comically in one scene as Unser Hitler jugendfiihrer or Our Hitler Youth Leader), and the rest of the crew remains either indifferent or openly anti-Nazi (the Captain). Some have stated that this scenario is quite unlikely as most U-Boat crews were allegedly selected from those naval service members with strong belief in the Nazi Party. One has only to look at the difficulties experienced with POW camps set aside for capturerd U-Boat crews. At this stage in the war, morale was high and this degree of scepticism would have been unlikely.

There are a number of good “Cold War” era films.

Ice Station Zebra, a novel by Alistair Maclean published in 1963, begins as Drift Ice Station Zebra, a British meteorological station built on an ice floe in the Arctic Sea, is in trouble. The station has had a fire, and men have died. The rest are holed up in one hut with no food or heat, and little liquid water. If help does not reach them soon, they will die.

The (fictional) nuclear-powered submarine USS DOLPHIN is dispatched on a rescue mission. Just before it departs, the mysterious Dr. Carpenter, an apparent expert in dealing with frostbite and other deep-cold medical conditions (and the narrator of the story), is sent to accompany it.

At first, Captain Swanson is suspicious of Carpenter; even though he receives an order from NA TO instructing him to obey Carpenter’s every command, except where crew safety is at stake. Swanson tells Carpenter he is still inclined to refuse. Carpenter reveals that this is not simply a rescue mission-the station is actually a highly equipped listening post, keeping watch for nuclear missile launches from the Soviet Union. Swanson then allows Carpenter to come along.

Soon DOLPHIN is under the Arctic ice pack, searching for a place to surface and attempt to contact Zebra, whose radio signals are becoming weaker by the hour.

The ice there is still too thick to punch through with the sub’s sail -but maybe it can be opened with a torpedo. Disaster strikes. The crew attempts to load a torpedo into one of the tubes, but when the inner door is opened, a torrent of water rushes in, killing a crewman and sending DOLPHIN into a nearly catastrophic dive. Only by heroic measures is DOLPHIN able to save itself. After successfully cracking the ice, the sub finally emerges just two hundred feet from Zebra.

Finally, the survivors are aboard, Zebra is abandoned, and the Dolphin heads back, but not without several further incidents. The ship’s doctor is knocked into a coma. Carpenter himself is severely hurt in another apparent accident. Then, a fire breaks out in the engine room and the sub is forced to shut down its nuclear power plant. Without power for heating or air purification, the Dolphin looks set to become a frozen tomb trapped under the ice pack. Only the ingenuity of the captain and dedication of the crew saves the ship.

The book was made into a film in 1968 featuring Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Jim Brown and Lloyd Nolan .

Perhaps the most famous breakthrough film is the one based on Tom Clancy’s first novel, The Hunt for Red October, published in 1984, notably the U.S. Naval Institute Press’s first work of fiction and still the most successful. The story follows the intertwined adventures of Soviet submarine captain Marko Aleksandrovich Ramius, and CIA analyst Jack Ryan.

The novel is sometimes referred to as the first real example of the techno-thriller, a hybrid between the spy thriller and science fiction, in which attention to technical and operational detail about military and intelligence activities is paramount. Research for The Hunt (or Red October was conducted using the Harpoon board game developed by Larry Bond.

The Hunt for Red October was inspired by a real incident. On November 8, 1975, the Soviet Navy frigate Storozhevoy mutinied, which at the time the West believed was an attempt to defect from Latvia to the Swedish island of Gotland. The mutiny was led by the ship’s Political Officer, Captain Valery Sablin. The mutiny was unsuccessful; Sablin was captured, court-martialed and executed. Some faulted the Swedes for failing to assist the mutineers, but this was unrealistic given Sweden’s neutrality and their proximity to the USSR …

Marko Ramius, a Lithuanian by birth, who has risen to high levels of trust in the Soviet Navy, intends to defect to the United States with his officers and the experimental nuclear submarine Red October. The Red October is equipped with a revolutionary stealth propulsion system (in the movie, a magneto hydrodynamic drive) nicknamed the caterpillar drive, making it extremely difficult to detect with regular methods. Ramius’ defection is spurred by several factors, in particular the death of his wife due to a doctor’s incompetence. Because the doctor was the son of a Politburo member, he was beyond reproach. This, in conjunction with a long-standing dissatisfaction with Communism and the callousness of the Soviet establishment towards its sailors, ultimately exhausts Ramius’ tolerance for the Soviet system’s failings.

Ryan, a naval historian turned CIA analyst, deduces Ramius’ plans. The U.S. high command meanwhile comes up with contingency plans in case the Soviet Fleet has intentions other than the cover. As tensions rise between the U.S. and Soviet fleets, and the crew of a U.S. attack submarine stumble on the secret to detecting the Red October, Ryan must contact the Red October’s rebellious captain to prevent the loss of a decisive technological advantage. Through a combination of circumstances, Ryan becomes responsible for seeing the sub, and Ramius, to safety from the pursuing Soviet naval fleet. After a clever diversionary tactic, the Americans find a way to help the Red October safely reach the coast of Virginia. The film, released in 1990, with Sean Connery in the role of Ramius, Alec Baldwin playing Ryan, Scott Glenn as the American sub commander, and James Earl Jones as US Admiral James Greer, was true to the novel and very adept at simulating the tensions besetting both the Soviet and American officers and crew.

Crimson Tide, is a 1995 submarine film starring Denzel Washing-ton and Gene Hackman and directed by Tony Scott. It is a typical submarine film, in that it focuses on the tension that occurs between the men who must not only endure the scarce and dangerous space aboard an Ohio-class nuclear submarine, but also the weight of responsibility for the nuclear SLBMs they are trained to deploy, and the mental stress of the dire consequences that could result from a miscalculation. The film takes place in 1995 Gudging from several references made in the story) during a period of instability in Russia. An ultranationalist has taken control of a nuclear missile installation and is threatening nuclear war if either the Americans or the Russian government attempt to confront him.

The United States nuclear strategic missile submarine USS ALABAMA is given the mission to go on patrol and be available to launch its missiles in a pre-emptive strike if the Russian nuclear installation attempts to fuel its missiles, in which case they can be launched one hour after the fueling process begins. Captain Frank Ramsey (Hackman) is the commander of the sub, one of the very few Captains remaining in the US Navy with any experience in combat. He chooses as his new executive officer (XO) Lieutenant Commander Ron Hunter (Washington), who has an extensive education in military history and tactics, but no combat experience.

ALABAMA eventually receives an order to launch its missiles on the Russian nuclear installation, based on satellite information that the missiles are being fueled. However, before the Alabama can launch its missiles, a second message begins to come through, but is interrupted by the attack of a Russian Akula-class attack submarine friendly to the ultranationalist cause, which is destroyed in open combat. The communications systems are damaged in the attack, the remainder of the message cannot be received, and the message cannot be authenticated. Cut off from communications, attacked by the hostile Akula and with an order in hand to launch, Captain Ramsey decides to proceed with the launch. XO Hunter refuses to concur as is procedurally required for launch, and instead tries to confirm the second message, which he believes is a retraction of the previous launch order. Eventually, Hunter orders the arrest of Ramsey for attempting to exceed his authority, Ramsey escapes confinement to confront Hunter with charges of mutiny, and the two men struggle for control. Eventually, the crew divides into those loyal to the captain and those who do not want to risk nuclear war. Ramsey (white) and Hunter (black) exchange overt allusions to race as the command crisis escalates, and Ramsey portrays the XO as an upstart Harvard graduate who does not respect his place in the chain of command. In the end, the communications equipment is repaired and it turns out that the Russian army has the situation under control and the rebellion is subdued, eliminating the need to launch the missiles.

The movie culminates in a review at the Pacific Fleet headquarters in Hawaii where several Admirals express grave concern about the breakdown of nuclear launch operations in wartime. While the elder Ramsey voluntarily retires and the young Hunter is given a command, the movie aims to present the intractably uncertain nature of the launch scenario, in essence placing full blame on neither character. A gentlemen’s reconciliation between officers occurs at the closure of the film.

Although the film does not claim to be based on a true story, events that transpire throughout the plot are strikingly similar to one of the most tense periods of the Cuban Missile Crisis. On October 27, 1962, a Soviet submarine officer named Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov reportedly refused to comply with the launch of a nuclear warhead while being closely tracked by a U.S. warship near Cuba. In order to initiate such an attack, Soviet naval procedures stated that the captain and two other officers must concur. The other officer on duty agreed to the launch, but Arkhipov convinced the captain to wait for instructions from Moscow before proceeding.

Reverting back to the perilous early days of Soviet-American undersea competition, K-19: The Widowmaker is a movie released in 2002, starring Harrison Ford as Captain Alexis Vostrikov and Liam Neeson as Captain Mikhail Polenin It purports to depict the first of many disasters that befell the Soviet submarine K-19. It is based on the factual situation confronting the officers and crew of an early HOTEL-class Soviet sub …. one of the first nuclear-powered Russian subs and one plagued with shoddy workmanship and poor design resulting from a rush to catch up with American undersea developments and to create a Soviet nuclear presence on America’s littoral doorstep .. The movie’s script aroused considerable ire when it was read by the original crew of K-19. Two open letters were sent to the actors and production team, one from several officers and crew members, the other from the boat’s captain. Many complaints, based on preliminary screenings and perusal of the screenplay, centered on what was felt to be the incorrect and stereotypical portrayal of the Soviet crew sailors as disorderly, drunken, illiterate and rebellious.

The producers made significant changes to the script and the revised portrayal of the Soviet crew was more respectful. Several scenes were cut and the names of the crew were changed at the request of the crewmembers and their families. When the film was premiered in Russia in October, 2002, 52 veterans of the K-19 submarine were flown in to the St. Petersburg premiere. Despite many technical and historical issues that remained (caused by the need to appease the general theatre going audience), the film and Ford’s performance in particular received high marks from them.

I will conclude the article with a quick look at science fictional subs as a kind of postscript to my Nemo/Nautilus piece. On the Beach is a post-apocalyptic end-of-the-world novel written by British author Nevil Shute after he had emigrated to Australia. It was published in 1957.

The novel was adapted for the screenplay of a 1959 movie featuring Gregory Peck (USS SA WFISH Captain Dwight Lionel Towers), Ava Gardner (Moira Davidson), Fred Astaire {scientist Julian-John in the novel-Osborne) and Anthony Perkins (Australian naval officer Peter Holmes). It was directed by Stanley Kramer.

The story is set in what was then the near future (1963 in the book, 1964 in the first movie, and 2000 in the television production) in the months following World War III. The conflict has devastated the northern hemisphere, polluting the atmosphere with nuclear fallout and killing all life. While the nuclear bombs were confined to the northern hemisphere, global air currents are slowly carrying the fallout to the southern hemisphere. The only part of the planet still habitable is the far south of the globe, specifically Australia and New Zealand, South Africa, and the southern parts of South America.

From Australia, survivors detect a mysterious though incompre-hensible Morse code radio signal originating from the United States. With hope that some life has remained in the contaminated regions, one of the last American nuclear submarines, USS SA WFISH (USS SCORPION in the book), placed by its Captain under Australian Naval Command, is ordered to sail north from its port of refuge in Melbourne (Australia1s southernmost major mainland city) to try to contact whoever is sending the signal. The American Captain, Dwight Towers, leads the operation, leaving behind a woman of recent acquaintance, the alcoholic Moira Davidson, to whom he’s become attached, despite his feelings of guilt regarding the certain deaths of his wife and children in the U.S. He refuses to admit that they are dead and continues to behave as though they are still alive, buying them gifts and writing them letters. In the novel, he remains faithful to his wife, while in the film, he has an affair with Moira.

Typically for a Shute novel, the characters are remarkably stoic and avoid the expression of intense emotions. They do not, for the most part, flee southward as refugees but rather accept their fate once the lethal radiation levels reach the latitudes at which they live. Finally, most of the Australians do opt for the government-promoted alternative of suicide when the symptoms of radiation-sickness appear.

In the book (though this is not mentioned in the original film), the war is said to have involved the bombing of the United Kingdom by Egypt. The aircraft used were obtained from the USSR and so the attack was mistakenly thought to have been led by the Soviets, leading to a retaliation on the USSR by the NA TO powers. The book also hints at a strike by the People’s Republic of China against the USSR, aiming at occupying Soviet industrial areas near the Chinese border; this strike leads to a Russian retaliatory strike. This may have been a reference to the then-contemporary Suez crisis. In the later television movie, the Third World War is sparked by the People’s Republic of China launching an all-out invasion of Taiwan that brings the United States to Taiwan’s defence. After the U.S. deploys its forces to attack the Chinese with conventional weaponry, the Chinese launch an all-out nuclear missile attack on North America, which results in the United States launching a nuclear strike against mainland China.

Much of the novel’s action takes place in Melbourne, close to the southernmost part of the Australian mainland. Shute is said to have despised the first movie version (which was released little more than a month before he died), feeling that his characters had been altered too greatly. However, the film shoot in and around Melbourne (with some of the racing action shot at Riverside Raceway) was a great novelty for that city at the time. It was claimed that Ava Gardner described Melbourne as ‘the perfect place to make a film about the end of the world’; the purported quote was actually invented by journalist Neil Jillett.

Vovage to the Bottom of the Sea is a film released in 1961 based on the novel by Theodore Sturgeon, also published in 1961 Walter Pidgeon is the nominal star of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, portraying Admiral Harriman Nelson, the designer of the submarine Sea view, a glass-nosed research submarine. The sub embarks on her shakedown cruise under the polar ice cap as the movie begins. Upon surfacing, however, the crew discovers that the entire sky is on fire-the Van Allen radiation belt has been ignited by a freak meteor shower, and the Earth is being slowly burnt to a cinder. Nelson and his colleague, Commodore Lucius Emery (Peter Lorre), devise a plan to extinguish the belt using one of the Seaview’s nuclear missiles, but they are denounced at an emergency meeting of the United Nations. Disregarding the UN vote against him, Nelson decides to go forward with his plan before the Earth is destroyed, hoping to get the approval of the president of the United States while his ship races from New York to the Marianas in the Pacific to launch its missile on time and target, with the world’s navies hunting her down and communication with Washington impossible because of the fire in the sky. Nelson must combat not only the threats from other ships but also the doubts of his own protege, Commander Lee Crane (Robert Sterling), the captain of SEA VIEW, about his plan and his methods, and the growing suspicion-being spread by Dr. Susan Hiller (Joan Fontaine), a psychiatrist who was visiting the vessel-about his sanity, as well as the growing discontent of the crew, who would like to see their families before the end of the world, and the presence of one religious fanatic (Michael Ansara) who thinks the fire in the sky is God’s will. Worse still, there appears to be a saboteur-and possibly more than one-aboard. The plot is episodic in pacing and features elements that were clearly derived in inspiration from Disney’s 1954 production of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, such as Nelson’s eccentricity and the outlaw status of his ship; but the undersea maneuvers to tap the trans-Atlantic telephone cable (in order to reach Washington), the battle with a giant squid, a duel with an attack submarine, and a harrowing tangle with a WWII mine field would become standard elements of the series of the same name that followed this movie two years later. Pidgeon brings dignity if not a huge amount of energy to the role of the admiral, and Lorre, Fontaine, Ansara, and Henry Daniell (playing Nelson’s scientific nemesis) added some colorful performances, and Barbara Eden, as Nelson’s secretary, is easy on the eyes. The real star of the movie, however, is the submarine SEA VIEW and the special effects, which, to be fully appreciated, should be seen in a letter boxed televised presentation of the movie.

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