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 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).