Sign in to follow this  
Sgt_Markoff

quirky submarine captains

16 posts in this topic

Hallo, I need to make a list of a few of the most memorable cinematic submarine commanders; or (in a pinch) their opposing surface-ship counterparts. American Navy, ideally; but any captain with an eccentric, erratic, or bombastic personality will suit.

Comedies, or straightforward war movies, or even any kind of maritime drama, all acceptable. I'm somewhat inclining my search towards intense, driven, over-the-edge characters; but even hapless, harried, and hangdog types are also of interest.

'Yes' to Richard Widmark in 'Bedford Incident', Jimmy Cagney in 'Mister Roberts', Clark Gable in 'Run Silent Run Deep', Jurgens/Mitchum in 'The Enemy Below', Cary Grant in 'Destination Tokyo' (although rather bland, better Cary Grant in 'Operation Petticoat', yes to Tom Tully (rather than Humphrey Bogart) in 'Caine Mutiny'...nix on John Wayne in 'Operation Pacific' or whatever that was called....catch my drift?

Thanks in advance for any contributions!

MPW-51233

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks--may I ask, how would your describe his personality in that one? I don't know it. Is he status-conscious? Insecure? Grasping? A martinette?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If nothing really leaps to mind so far as I have laid out the question, I will also accept choice land-borne candidates like Robert Mulligan's Custer ('Little Big Man'), Otto Preminger's leather-jackboot-loving commandant ('Stalag 17') or Henry Fonda's Lt. Colonel Thursday ('Fort Apache').

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

How about Das Boot? Great film involving anti-Nazi U-Boat commander with a Nazi girlfriend. Obviously does not fit your "American Navy" preference, but the captain is intense, driven to save his men, even at the cost of the ship.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I love James Mason as Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954). He had supposedly harnessed nuclear power for the Nautilus, but didn't trust the rest of humanity to share it with them. His home base was a volcanic island; take that, Dr. Evil! He played the organ but terrorized the shipping lanes. A really great villain because he had so many elements of a gentleman.

My favorite sub was the one in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961). It had this great "windshield" and "wings" like a classic late-50's automobile. I actually forget who played the captain, but the focus was on the inventor, Walter Pidgeon. He defies the United Nations (!) and takes the sub on a crazy mission halfway around the world to launch a missile to explode the fiery radiation belt around the earth. He's not a nut job but he's obsessed and the crew almost mutinies. He knows the world's only hope is for him to commit to something iffy and hope it works. In the same vein, there's Around the World Under the Sea (1966), which features an "all-star" scientific team led by Lloyd Bridges rather than an actual captain as the focal point. That one's about placing underwater sensors to detect earthquakes...and they stumble onto sunken treasure for good measure.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Just thought of another, though it's borderline. Bill Murray in Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (2004) plays an oceanographer/documentarian on an obsessive search for a mysterious sea creature which may or may not exist and may or may not have killed his partner. The voyage takes place on his Calypso-like, specially outfitted ship, but an underwater submersible plays a big part in the exploration. Murray is vain, obsessive and evasive, which makes the obvious Cousteau parallel all the more cheeky and devious.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow @DougieB

Walter Pidgeon defied the United Nations with an idea like that? He always seemed so pleasant and well-behaved

thenryb: yea Jurgen Prochnow came to mind swiftly but the reason why he doesn't quite fit is that his character is so competent and resolute. I'm seeking the untrustworthy commanders, the ones who inspire lack-of-confidence in their men. All the kriegsmarine captains were probably like the one in Das Boot and that rules them out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
17 hours ago, Sgt_Markoff said:

Thanks--may I ask, how would your describe his personality in that one? I don't know it. Is he status-conscious? Insecure? Grasping? A martinette?

Laughton was a paranoid lout in Devil and the Deep. The main plot concerns his almost maniacal jealousy regarding wife Tallulah Bankhead, and the men that Laughton believes she's having affairs with, including co-star Gary Cooper and a very young Cary Grant in an early role.

 

Another one I thought of that was a bit of a tyrant while at sea was Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Maniacal jealousy is always good thank ye. Ha! He suspects his junior officers of boffing his woman eh? Classic. That's really rich.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

THE SEA WOLF (1941) with Edward G. Robinson.

That's one Captain you can really get to hate.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
36 minutes ago, Dskow said:

THE SEA WOLF (1941) with Edward G. Robinson.

That's one Captain you can really get to hate.

Yea,  Wolf Larsen is a despicable character but Ghost was a ship and not a sub. 

Either way Robinson gives a brilliant performance playing a captain that even his own mother didn't love. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Too true, Tallu. I wonder what that story would be like if Alexander Knox's character (Humphrey Van Wyden) and John Garfield's character (whatever his name was) were reunited in one rebellious figure as London originally wrote. Have any of the remakes repaired this?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us