There was only one person whom I wished to sit and watch this film with, my good buddy and cuddle machine, Kevin the Yeti. Just managing to squeeze his humongous hairy butt next to me on the sofa, we snuggled in with a few gallons of beer and a mountain of popcorn, I knew there was no chance of getting cold whilst watching this icy adventure.
This film hits all the right buzzwords for me, Cold War espionage, spies, a submarine, secret mission and a bunch of shifty geezers.
But however much I love this film, we did both agree that an edit could cut at least half an hour from the run time. Clocking in at nearly 2 and half hours I believe it would be more punchy if it was chopped in size. Just an observation, as I know this film is much loved by many people, It’s just a personal view.
Anyway what is this about?
It starts when a satellite crash lands in the Arctic with sensitive highly classified documents of which all the superpowers are after. In comes the top brass who start recruiting for a team to reach the impossibly bleak weather station outpost called Ice Station Zebra.
First up is the submarine Commander James Ferraday (Rock Hudson) who is to pick up a platoon of Marines and a rather dodgy looking British Intelligence agent with cat like reflexes called Mr Jones (Played by the ever brilliant Patrick Mcgoohan and basically just reliving his role from Danger Man, The Prisoner). Next to turn up for the sub trip is the lovable but shifty Russian defector and spy, Boris Vaslov (hilariously played by Ernest Borgnine). Then last but not least you have the bubbling intensity of badass Captain Anders (Jim Brown) who takes control of the marines.
Tagline – It’s a race for the secret … or TOTAL DESTRUCTION
This is a film of two parts, first part getting the gang together on the Submarine and their voyage to the Arctic. Then part two is set within the compound of the ice station and where the espionage starts to reveal itself.
Now throw in some brinkmanship with the incoming Russians wanting to retrieve their fallen capsule and everyone of the submarine crew looking deceptive and cagey as they all race to Ice Station Zebra. It’s all good fun if not dragged out some, perfect film fodder for a Saturday Matinee.
The fictional USS Tigerfish nuclear submarine sets are very impressive and actually filmed on USS Ronquil (SS-396) a soon to be decommissioned WWII sub.
The film is directed by John Sturges who made incredible films like The Magnificent Seven, The Great Escape and Bad Day at Black Rock (which I need to see). Adapted from a book of the same name by Alistair MacLean
Here’s the trailer and an alternative poster, which amps up the cold war tension in it’s artwork.
Further Reading Links