Showing posts with label Jim Brown. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jim Brown. Show all posts

12 October 2011

ICE STATION ZEBRA/1968/ROCK HUDSON

ICE STATION ZEBRA

1968/Director: John Sturges/Writers: Alistair MacLean (novel), Douglas Heyes (screenplay)

Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Alf Kjellin, Gerald S. O'Loughlin   

My dad was stationed on Lackland Airforce Base in San Antonio Texas in the late 60's. One of the little perks of being the son of a military dad was having the ID card that got me onto the base and then inot some cool places, like the bowling alley, the BX (base exchange), the cafeterias and of course the various bland looking movie houses. With my ID card it cost me all of 35 cents to see assorted spaghetti westerns, horror and sci-fi films, comedies and once in a while a real movie. Such was the case with Ice Station Zebra, a film I saw all alone in the base theater at about the age of eleven. Shot in stunning 70mm  with a dramatic score (restored in full with intermission music on the version I have) it was awesome to behold on the big screen and if I remember right I saw it about three times in a week.

The film is based, somewhat loosely I understand, on the 1963 spy thriller of the same name by Alastair MacLain. His earlier The Guns of Navarone was made into a successful movie with Gregory Peck and David Niven and MGM hoped to turn this new novel into another box office winner. The film in fact did well and earned a couple Oscar nominations for special effects and cinematography but lost out to 2001: A Space Odyssey. It also revived the career of Rock Hudson as an action star after he had become somewhat typecast in his pillow talk movies with actresses like Doris Day. Charlton Heston was originally slated to play Hudson's role as Captain Ferraday but declined saying the script was too weak. While Heston would have shone in the role Rock does just fine as the capable Captain of the USS Tigerfish as it heads towards the North Pole on both a rescue and top secret mission that involves British spies, Russian defectors, U.S Marines and not one single female character in the entire film.

The story begins in Scotland where Submarine Captain Ferraday (Hudson) is given the mission of taking the USS Tigerfish up under the polar ice caps to rescue the scientific team stationed at Ice Station Zebra following a reported series of explosions there. An overland, or over icepack, route is ruled out and Ferraday is none to pleased to receive orders that his command is second to a British spy named "Mr. Jones", played by Patrick MacGoohan who took some time off from his The Prisoner TV series to do the film. Jones is brilliant but slightly jumpy and sleeps with a gun under his pillow and drinks plenty of "medicinal" whiskey to balance himself out. The rescue mission is actually a cover for retrieving a capsule that was ejected to Earth from a satellite. The capsule contains something that both the Americans and Russians are racing to the North Pole to get first. The Tigerfish later receive by helicopter two unexpected visitors. One is a constantly smiling and helpful Russian defector named Boris Vaslov (Ernest Borgnine) and the other is tough and disciplined Marine Captain Anders (Jim Brown).