Well, it’s the last Sunday in February, and I have one last Clark Gable film, as we end our celebration of him as the Star Of The Month! That film would be the 1958 movie Run Silent, Run Deep, which also stars Burt Lancaster. But first, let’s get through our theatrical short.
Coming Up Shorts! with… Reel Pink (1965)
(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)
(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)
The Pink Panther buys a group of worms to go fishing, but one of them keeps giving him trouble. Honestly, that description doesn’t fully describe what goes on in this cartoon. For the second half, the Panther faces off against a crab that he catches, while the worm just disappears completely. Both parts are somewhat amusing with the worm sabotaging him and the crab trying to fight him (even with a cannon from inside his shell), but the change just feels too abrupt, and throws off the fun of the cartoon. If it had been more consistent, it would be easier to recommend this one.
And Now For The Main Feature…
In World War II, Commander P. J. Richardson (Clark Gable) captains a submarine through the Bungo Straits near Japan, where the submarine is sunk by the Japanese destroyer Akikaze. Richardson survives, but is relegated to a desk job in Pearl Harbor. A year later, he learns from yeoman 1st class “Kraut” Miller (Jack Warden) that the Akikaze has sunk a fourth submarine in the Bungo Straits, and sends in a request to be returned to active duty. Meanwhile, the submarine Nerka returns to Pearl Harbor. With its captain out of commission due to injury, the members of the crew hope that Lieutenant James Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster) will take over. However, that idea is short-lived when they are informed that the Nerka will be captained by Commander Richardson. Jim is less than thrilled, and goes to Richardson’s home to tell him off and request a transfer (which he is denied). When they go to sea, the crew finds out that they have been assigned to patrol Area 7 (where the Bungo Straits are, much to their dismay). Richardson starts to run drills, pushing the crew to improve their timing. After about a week, they spot a Japanese sub, but Richardson chooses to ignore it. This act leaves the crew pondering whether he is a coward, with some of the officers starting to consider a mutiny (but Jim puts an end to the idea). A few days later, after doubling down on the drills, they come across a Japanese tanker and destroyer, and take them on successfully. However, they end up avoiding another convoy (on Richardson’s orders), and Jim goes to see him to find out why. Richardson then reveals that they will be going to the Bungo Straits (which their orders had told them NOT to do), and Jim deduces that it is to go after the Akikaze. Richardson thinks they have a surprise advantage, but when they come across the Akikaze protecting a convoy, they discover that the enemy is ready for them. They are forced to evade an errant torpedo, and the Akikaze drops depth charges, some of which cause damage, killing a few crew members (and giving Richardson a concussion). Richardson has them jettison some debris to help convince the Japanese that their sub had been destroyed, so that they can work on repairs. Richardson’s concussion causes him to lose consciousness, and the doctor tells him to take it easy (not that he wants to listen or let anybody else know about the problem). When Jim hears that Richardson wants to try again after the repairs have been completed, he decides that enough is enough, and assumes command himself (with plans to return to Pearl Harbor). However, when he hears on the radio from Tokyo Rose that they believe the Nerka has been sunk (and figures out how they were detected), he reconsiders his decision. Now, he figures they can try again, but will they be any more successful (and survive whatever other surprises may be in store)?
Run Silent, Run Deep is based on the novel (of the same name) by Commander Edward L. Beach. The film rights were acquired by United Artists (apparently the first time they bought the property first and then delegated it to somebody else later), and it ended up being given to Hill-Hecht-Lancaster Productions (Burt Lancaster’s production company). Burt Lancaster wanted the part of Lieutenant James Bledsoe, and they brought in Clark Gable to play the older commander. An attempt was made to keep the movie as authentic as possible, in between trying to use realistic submarine talk, combat incidents taken from the Navy archives, and learning about the equipment. Critics took to the movie, heaping a lot of praise upon it, although it wasn’t as big of a hit (at the time) with movie audiences.
I’ve seen a handful of submarine movies over time, but, so far, it’s mainly been the comedies that have stuck with me. So, when I say that I like Run Silent, Run Deep (after one viewing), you can bet I have a high opinion of the movie! I saw the movie mainly because of Clark Gable, and he did not disappoint! His character certainly seems to echo Captain Ahab of Moby Dick fame, as he is obsessed with trying to figure out how to take down the ship that sunk his submarine. He tries, as much as he can, to come up with a strategy to defeat it, and, once given another sub to work with, drills the men in the very methods he has determined would work. And, to continue it further, he wants ONLY to get that ship (and, at best, uses others like it as a test run to see if his methods have a hope of working). Of course, I can’t say whether he can be redeemed or not without giving away the film’s ending, but, suffice to say, Clark Gable made this movie worth seeing for me! All the special effects are well done, and certainly help to convey everything that’s going on! It just feels, to me, like a well-done submarine/war movie, and it’s one I would have no trouble whatsoever recommending!
This movie is available on Blu-ray from Kino Lorber.
Another month down, and thus the end of my celebration of Clark Gable! Tune in tomorrow as we start the celebration of Gene Kelly as the star for the month of March!
Film Length: 1 hour, 33 minutes
My Rating: 9/10
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