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Run Silent, Run Deep

I borrowed this movie because of its connection to Robert Wise's own Star Trek: The Motion Picture and, to a lesser extent, the TOS episode "Balance of Terror", and I can certainly see how it served to inspire both. In fact however, the portrayal of the "old dog" commander and the "young dog" XO was more complex than the relationship between Kirk and Decker.

Clark Gable (looking past his prime, but that was probably the point) as Richardson was driven to recapture a command and to exact vengeance on the Japanese destroyer that sunk his old submarine. But not to the point where it became obsessional or compromised his battle effectiveness. Burt Lancaster's Bledsoe was prim and proper, but also ambitious and not above letting his captain know that he would be willing to accede to the crew's wishes to take over. The crew itself wasn't a homogeneous, faceless crowd, but consisted of deftly drawn individuals (including Don Rickles in a dramatic role) with their own opinions, rituals and tensions.

How each character reacted wasn't always predictable - Bledsoe for instance, criticising the captain for running away from battle early in the piece, but then choosing to return to Pearl Harbour with 15 unused torpedoes later. Some of the plot twists also were unusual - Richardson spending much of the third act incapacitated for instance.

Wise wasn't particularly effective in staging the action sequences or ratcheting up the tension, especially in the climactic battle sequences (or what we might think are the climactic sequences), and the special effects are primitive by today's standards (watch for the torpedo clearly pulled along by a string). But that's of little consequence: the strength of the film lies elsewhere.

Will have to seek out The Enemy Below, the other 50s submarine movie that "Balance of Terror" took its cues from.

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