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A Very Cold War.,
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This review is from: Ice Station Zebra (DVD)Released in 1968, "Ice Station Zebra" remains an engrossing, suspenseful thriller, well directed by John Sturges. With films like "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape" to his credit, you know that any movie directed by Mr. Sturges is going to hold your attention, even if--in this case--it clocks in at over two and a half hours.
The titular station is a weather outpost located close to the North Pole. Something has gone terribly wrong there, and an American nuclear submarine is sent on an urgent rescue mission. Nasty Arctic weather--and the polar ice cap--will not allow any other means of transport to reach "Zebra". Of course, there is a more sinister agenda here than trying to save the lives of a few stranded scientists. This is why the submarine has two espionage "experts" on board--one British and one Russian--as well as a platoon of marines.
Rock Hudson stars as the sub captain. While this role does not challenge Mr. Hudson's acting abilities, he is appropriately fearless and stalwart in the face of danger. Ernest Borgnine is our Russian secret service agent, working for the "West" as a "good Russian"--or is he ? Mr. Borgnine is a good actor, and after the first few scenes, I found myself accepting him in this role. Jim Brown is the tough-as-nails marine leader. I would never call him a great actor, but Mr. Brown is certainly convincing as someone nobody wants to annoy ! Real acting honours in this movie go to Patrick McGoohan as the British "agent". Fondly remembered for his sixties TV series "Danger Man" ( aka Secret Agent ) and "The Prisoner", it will always be a mystery to me why Mr. McGoohan did not choose to make a greater number of films and become a huge star. Frankly, for me at least, he steals the film.
The colour, widescreen picture is excellent, as is the sound for a 36-year old film. While some of the arctic action clearly takes place in the studio, I was impressed with the submarine footage, and once you are under the ice cap, you can really feel the tension. Yes--it's a submarine film--things do indeed "go wrong" !
Ladies--while my wife did enjoy "Ice Station Zebra", she did confirm that this is a "guy movie" ! In fact, there are no women in the cast at all. If you are looking for romance, this is not the place !
It is not clear to me why Howard Hughes would want to watch this film hundreds of times, but is it a coincidence that this DVD starts with a trailer for "The Aviator" ? I don't think so.
The disc includes a few other trailers, and an interesting short on one of "Zebra's" cameramen who helped to pioneer action film photography--fascinating.
I suppose the West vs. Soviet "cold war" scenario is dated--in 2005, international tensions are much more complicated--but "Ice Station Zebra" still delivers a tense, exciting story, and this DVD was worth the wait. Recommended.
A very sad footnote, dated 15 January 2009--Mr. Patrick McGoohan has passed away--another fine actor has left us.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 15, 2013 10:13:25 PM PDT
Mary McGreevey says:
I don't think that romance is a requirement for a woman to enjoy this film. I loved all kinds of spy films and books, and I'm a big fan of Patrick McGoohan in all his roles. This film is full of tension and excitement, so anyone could like it.
But hey, if a man or woman looks for romance, they certainly don't pick spy films, or do they? If they know McGoohan at all, there's always a woman after him in THE PRISONER or espcially in SECRET AGENT and DANGER MAN, but it comes to naught, but he's on duty, on guard, and often enough the woman is the killer sent to get him. TENSION!
I know a lot of men would find ICE STATION ZEBRA a bore because it lacks real violence of the modern shoot-em kind. There, I've assumed that men look for VIOLENCE. Am I right? Maybe????? Well, maybe the gay men look for romance, and a submarine is just the place for close sleeping quarters, eh?
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 16, 2013 8:53:32 PM PDT
D. Patterson says:
one of my alltime favs but the origional reviewer missed the only woman in this great movie. when the commander is in the pub and gets a phone call, you see what might be the owners wife in the back. as far as i know the only female representative visable.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 19, 2013 8:40:12 PM PDT
Mary McGreevey says:
Perhaps we can just say, women are smarter. They don't get in a sub and head for the Antarctic, because they know the death could be terrible. On the other hand, a tourguide in my company, a very lively Pole, took off for Alaska, got to love the cold weather there working outdoors on a construction site as a materials coordinator, then applied to work in Antactica for that research station down there. I think she's one of the cooks or cleaners,but she loves it and has done it for years now already, saving all her money,to take back to her family in Poland.
Furthermore, I remember that here in Berkeley some 20 years ago, I responded to an ad from a male author who needed help with his "fan mail". He wrote a book about living alone off the coast of Canada, on some island, for an entire year, and then stated that he would like to do it again, but with the right woman. What happens? THOUSANDS of letters flood his apartment's mailbox (before email), with long, long and intimate letters of women's whole life history,how miserable they are in office jobs in Toronto, etc., and how they would just love to come and spend a year with him and him alone, in ice and snow, on that island. My job would be to go through these shoeboxes of letters and photos and see if anything seemed really real. I burst out laughing at this assignment, after reading a few. Truly, why not write a book about the misery of most office jobs that women are stuck in, all around this modern world?
THank God I am a tourguide and still love it since 1996. Everyone should learn to drive a bus or truck if they want an outside job. The women who do so will meet plenty of men that way... no need to move to an island or the Antarctic.
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