The Top 8 Submarine Movies
by Dawn

At one time, my love for submarine movies drove me to make the goal of wanting to watch all submarine movies ever made. Silly me! Oh the rot my spouse and I have sat through. The movie “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” had an unrealistically huge sub and included a scene with a man blowing a trumpet standing on a table while women danced around him – oh the horror. Other so-called sub movies have a submarine in it, but many turn out to have very few scenes on or even about the sub. “The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming” starring Carl Reiner is a case in point – it’s still a worthwhile movie to watch, just not what I would call a movie really about a submarine. “Submerged” starring Steven Seagal also has very few scenes on a sub and is a truly terrible movie unless you are a die-hard Seagal fan. So, I have chosen to devote my time to more fun enterprises with higher rates of payoff. But I am sharing my opinion about what I consider the best submarine movies if you too enjoy this particular genre.

The Hunt for Red October – Fraught with tension, this thriller is full of twists and turns as well as fairly accurate military procedure. I have a family member who is a civilian working with the Navy on designing submarines who said that he couldn’t believe the up-to-date accuracy of naval weaponry. He thought that the government would have shut down or censored the movie and book. Filmed during the cold war, it’s a naval cat-and-mouse chase. Twenty years later, the politics and technology may have advanced some, but the movie still feels as fresh as when it came out. And for the ladies, they have their pick of eye candy in a young Alec Baldwin or a very distinguished Sean Connery.

Das Boot – Arguably the best submarine movie ever made. The handheld camera shots and actual sub-scaled sets certainly add to the tension and realism. No wonder this movie was nominated for so many Oscars. Gripping story and compelling characters. Normally I choose subtitles over dubbing every time – and I still do with this flick – but if you positively can’t do subtitles, know that every actor did his own dubbing in English. I’m becoming convinced that the best sub movies were made from historical source material – this is a prime example. Now excuse me while I pop this gem into my DVD. I’ve whet my own appetite…

Destination Tokyo – I must admit that really don’t generally care much for old sub movies. It’s not because of the lack of special effects, although laughable, they are forgiveable. It’s the old style of acting and the jingoism that really make so many old sub movies unwatchable for me. This movie made during WWII with Cary Grant is different. It’s based on actual events, shows true naval operations, and is very character driven. And there’s enough action to keep anyone interested.

K19:the Widowmaker – So I’m a sucker for true stories. This one is rather excruciating, yet every time it is on I end up watching it. The movie is about Russia’s first nuclear submarine on its maiden voyage in 1961. Apparently it was a rush job to launch the boat and many corners were cut – too many. What happens next is tense, horrific, and heroic. The drama of the real life tragedy reels you in, helped by actors such as Harrison Ford and Liam Neeson. It’s a well paced, well told story, a wonderful tribute. Survivors were said to heartily approve the movie, even parts they called “Hollywoodized.”

Run Silent, Run Deep – Another older sub movie. This one is a tale of revenge and redemption during WWII. The tension between Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster will make you forget any romanticized versions of the actors – all you’ll feel is hateful sweat during some scenes. Again, the special effects seem amateurish to what we have today, but the action will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Operation Petticoat – The only comedic sub flick worth watching, in my opinion. Many other sub movies are unintentional comedies, but that’s another story. Written by Blake Edwards (of the Pink Panther movies) this movie is pure goofiness. Comedy geniuses Cary Grant and Tony Curtis play off each so well. Later made into a TV show, this film is about a hapless sub that gets painted pink, has a con-man for an XO (executive officer) and carries five stranded female nurses.

U571- This movies gets an honorable mention because of the acting and the fact that it portrayed a story not told before – that of the capturing of the Enigma cipher machine. Although so many details have been changed as to considered historical fiction, the plot is based on the actual events during WWII. The realism seems to be missing from this one despite modern-day special effects, but the jingoism has made a reappearance.

Crimson Tide – This one gets an honorable mention because of its special effects and great acting. The plot itself is like a paint-by-numbers sub movie. Mutiny, fires onboard, and missile attacks have all been covered before by other, better war movies.