Run Silent Run Deep
Cast & Crew
In 1942, in the Bungo Straits near the coast of Japan, a U.S. Naval submarine captained by Commander "P. J." Richardson is sunk by the Japanese destroyer Akikaze . Richardson, who is among the survivors, spends the next year stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Learning from his yeoman, Mueller, that the fourth submarine sent into the Bungo Straits has been destroyed by the Akikaze , Richardson resolves to request a return to sea duty. Soon after, the submarine Nerka arrives at Pearl Harbor. Because the Nerka 's captain has been injured, the ship's executive officer, Lt. James Bledsoe, expects to assume command. After Bledsoe receives orders to remain "exec" to Richardson, who has been assigned to captain the Nerka , Bledsoe confronts Richardson at his home, but Richardson flatly refuses Bledsoe's demand to be relieved. After the Nerka returns to sea with its new captain, the crew is soon dismayed to learn they have been assigned to patrol Area 7, which contains the Bungo Straits. Richardson's demanding, precision drills heighten the crew's anxiety until Bledsoe informs them that their orders forbid them to enter the straits. After a week of intensive drilling, the crew responds excitedly when a Japanese submarine is sighted, but are perplexed when Richardson refuses to engage the enemy ship. During a rapid dive drill, sailor Russo is accidentally trapped on the deck while emptying garbage and barely survives. When Richardson questions Bledsoe about the laxness of the crew, the exec informs him that the men have lost their respect for him because of his refusal to attack the enemy. Richardson doubles the drills and, a few days later, when the Nerka sights a tanker and a destroyer, orders the submarine into combat. Under Richardson's guidance, the Nerka destroys the tanker from the surface, then purposely lures the destroyer toward the submarine, which then executes a precision shallow dive that allows the crew to shoot torpedoes directly into the enemy ship's bow. The crew are greatly cheered by their successful attack, but later confounded when Richardson purposely evades a Japanese convoy the next day. Suspicious when Richardson orders a change of course, Bledsoe discovers the commander is taking the Nerka into the Bungo Straits. When challenged, Richardson reminds Bledsoe that a captain has discretion to change orders if it becomes advantageous to do so. Richardson insists that the Nerka crew has proven their ability to master the tricky, dangerous "down-the-throat" bow shot that will be necessary to sink the Akikaze . Bledsoe angrily accuses Richardson of senselessly risking the lives of the crew and threatens to bring charges against him if he fails. Shortly after the crew has been informed of the change in orders, Lt. j.g. Gerald Cartwright and several officers propose to Bledsoe that he relieve Richardson. Although the officers cite naval regulations, Bledsoe instantly quashes the plan, telling them it is their duty to follow their captain where ever he leads them. After days of scouting, the Nerka sights the Akikaze escorting a supply convoy. The submarine lures the destroyer by sinking two freighter ships, but as the Akikaze closes in on the Nerka , enemy bomber planes attack, forcing Richardson to order an early dive. After the Nerka torpedoes just miss the Akikaze , a wild torpedo circles back toward the Nerka , forcing evasive maneuvers. The Akikaze then drops depth charges on the Nerka , causing damage in the forward torpedo room. Richardson investigates and is knocked unconscious when a series of depth charges explode simultaneously outside the submarine's hull. Upon reviving, Richardson orders the jettisoning of debris, including the bodies of the crew killed in the attack in hopes that the Akikaze will believe the submarine destroyed. The ruse works, but Richardson, Bledsoe and the men are puzzled by an indecipherable Morse code message heard just after the Akikaze ceases its attack. When Medic Hendrix states that Richardson has suffered a severe concussion that needs immediate care, the commander orders him not to reveal the information. Richardson summons Bledsoe, who is stunned when the commander directs him to resume their search for the Akikaze after two days of mandatory repairs. Bledsoe refuses, assumes command and orders the ship to return to Pearl Harbor. The crew is relieved to be returning to port, but are disturbed by Bledsoe's agitation. Two days later, in the officer's mess hall, Bledsoe and the others are startled when a broadcast by Tokyo Rose laments the loss of the Nerka and names several lost officers and men, calling Mueller "Kraut," a nickname recently applied to him by Cartwright, who wrote it on a scrap piece of paper. Bledsoe abruptly questions several members of the crew then visits the ailing Richardson, who deduces that Bledsoe intends to return to the straits. Bledsoe reveals that he has concluded that the Japanese have been able to locate the submarines because they have been retrieving the submarines' garbage sacks. Bledsoe points out that because the Japanese believe the Nerka destroyed, the submarine now has a legitimate attack advantage. Bledsoe then orders the Nerka back to the Bungo Straits in time to intercept the next supply convoy. As the submarine engages the freighter to draw in the Akikaze , Richardson slips in and out of consciousness, fretting over the Morse code signal. The Nerka crew successfully blow up the Akikaze using Richardson's shallow dive maneuver, but are confused when they detect a torpedo coming at them. Richardson then revives and orders the ship to crash dive, informing Bledsoe that the Morse code has emanated from a Japanese submarine working in tandem with the Akikaze . The Nerka evades the torpedo, then attempts to silently wait out the Japanese submarine while both are deep undersea. Knowing that waiting is a weak gamble, Richardson tells Bledsoe that with the Akikaze destroyed, the convoy's only defense is the submarine, so Bledsoe orders the Nerka to surface and attack the convoy, thus forcing the enemy submarine to the surface. The ploy works and Bledsoe turns over the helm to Richardson for the successful attack on the submarine. After the attack, Richardson collapses and later dies. Bledsoe then leads the burial at sea service for the Nerka 's commander.
Eddie Foy Iii
H. M. Wynant
Rear Adm. Rob Roy Mcgregor Usn, Ret.
Thomas E. Tutwiler
Run Silent, Run Deep
In a story that has echoes of Moby Dick, Clark Gable plays the captain of a submarine sunk by the Japanese during World War II who is given a chance to command another one after a year at a desk job. Focused almost entirely on revenge against the destroyer that sunk his previous vessel, he finds himself pitted against his second-in-command (Burt Lancaster) and facing a mutiny for putting his new crew in unnecessary danger.
Lancaster's rise to the highest pinnacle of Hollywood fame enabled him to find projects and produce the films he wanted to make under the banner of his HHL production company. Typically, HHL would find the material and convince United Artists to finance and distribute the movies, but in this case, it was the studio that bought the property, a novel by 30-year naval officer Capt. Edward L. Beach. HHL was asked to develop it. Lancaster saw himself in the role of the daring executive officer who bucks the more conservative and hard-nosed commander. For that role, the company struck a one-picture deal with Clark Gable, who was no longer top box office but still one of the most enduring and popular stars of Hollywood.
The relationship with Gable started out on rocky ground. Lancaster was younger and at the height of his critical and commercial powers. Gable, however, felt his less sympathetic role might be seen as secondary to his co-star, especially when he caught wind that Lancaster was doing some rewrites behind the back of the screenwriter HHL hired, John Gay. To make matters worse, Gable was put off by the chaos that typically attended HHL productions. Shortly before the start of production, Gable showed up for a 7:00 am meeting at the HHL offices and found the place locked up. He and his wife sat on the steps outside for ten minutes before Gay showed up. When Gay phoned Lancaster's producing partner Harold Hecht, he was told the meeting had been changed to 8:00 am. But no one had informed him or the star. "What kind of cheesy, crummy outfit is this?" Gable fumed.
Gable needn't have worried. Run Silent, Run Deep turned out to be far more his picture than Lancaster's, with the driven, vengeful captain the more dramatically interesting character. As production began, he grew more congenial and relaxed, although he did throw a fit over the scene in which Lancaster wrests control of the ship away from him. Gable flat out refused to do it, and production was halted for two days. Finally Gay hit on the idea of having Gable's character receive a severe injury, requiring his second-in-command to take control without having to resort to mutiny. Satisfied with that solution, Gable returned to work and production proceeded smoothly.
The producers took great pains to make everything about the story and setting authentic down to the last detail, including efforts to make the dialogue "real submarine talk," according to Lancaster. Even the combat incidents, Lancaster insisted, were taken from Navy archives. The comedian Don Rickles, cast as a crewmember, recalled that Lancaster took the technical aspects of the film very seriously, constantly asking questions about pieces of equipment and the sub's operation.
The official premiere of the film was held April 1, 1958, aboard the submarine USS Perch for an invited audience of senior Navy officers. Critics praised the work of director Robert Wise, Oscar®-nominated for another picture that year, I Want to Live! (1958), and later a winner for West Side Story (1961) and The Sound of Music (1965). Even The New York Times's Bosley Crowther, who trashed the previous HHL productions Vera Cruz (1954) and Trapeze (1956), praised the performances here and said, "A better film about war beneath the ocean and about guys in the 'silent service' has not been made."
Yet, despite its skill at weaving action with an intense personal drama and the audience appeal of its two stars, the picture was not a commercial smash and was overshadowed at the box office by another submarine movie that followed shortly after, Operation Petticoat (1959), a comedy teaming another established star, Cary Grant, with a younger actor on the rise, Tony Curtis. Run Silent, Run Deep cinematographer Russell Harlan also shot Petticoat, and editor George Boemler went on to cut a later submarine adventure, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).
Director: Robert Wise
Producer: Harold Hecht
Screenplay: John Gay, based on the novel by Edward L. Beach
Cinematography: Russell Harlan
Editing: George Boemler
Art Direction: Edward Carrere
Original Music: Franz Waxman
Cast: Clark Gable (Commander Richardson), Burt Lancaster (Lieutenant Bledsoe), Jack Warden (Yeoman Mueller), Brad Dexter (Cartwright), Don Rickles (Ruby).
by Rob Nixon
Run Silent, Run Deep
Run Silent, Run Deep
By Richard Harland Smith
Run Silent, Run Deep
Robert Wise (1914-2005)
Born on September 10, 1914 in Winchester, Ind., Wise was a child of the Depression who quit college to earn a living in the movie industry. He began as an assistant cutter at RKO, where he worked his way up to the position of film editor and earned an Oscar® nomination for his bravura work with Orson Welles on Citizen Kane. He also edited The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) for Welles, along with several other RKO films.
Wise became a director by default when RKO and producer Val Lewton assigned him to The Curse of the Cat People (1944) after Gunther von Fritsch failed to meet the film's production schedule. Wise turned the film into a first-rate psychological thriller, and enjoyed equal success with another Lewton horror film, The Body Snatcher (1945).
Critical praise also was showered upon Wise's Born to Kill (1947), a crime melodrama; and Blood on the Moon (1948), an unusual psychological Western starring Robert Mitchum. Even more highly regarded was The Set-Up (1949), a no-punches-pulled boxing drama that won the Critics' Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. Wise moved on from RKO in the early 1950s, directing one of the movies' classic alien invasion films, The Day the Earth Stood Still, for 20th Century Fox.
At MGM he directed Executive Suite (1954), a compelling all-star boardroom drama; Somebody Up There Likes Me, a film bio of boxer Rocky Graziano that established Paul Newman as a major star; and The Haunting (1963), a chilling haunted-hause melodrama. His films for United Artists include Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), a submarine drama with Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; I Want to Live! (1958), a harrowing account of a convicted murderess on Death Row, with Susan Hayward in her Oscar-winning performance; and the crime caper Odds Against Tomorrow (1959).
Wise served as president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Directors Guild of America. He was awarded the Academy's Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 1966, and the Directors Guild's highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award, in 1988. He remained active as a director through the 1970s. His final film, Rooftops (1989) was a musical with an urban setting that recalled West Side Story.
The films in TCM's salute to Robert Wise are Citizen Kane (1941), The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), The Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945), Born to Kill (1947), Blood on the Moon (1948), The Set-Up (1949), Executive Suite (1954), Somebody Up There Likes Me (1956), Run Silent, Run Deep (1958), B>West Side Story (1959), Odds Against Tomorrow (1959) and The Haunting (1963).
by Roger Fristoe
Robert Wise (1914-2005)
A fleet boat of the Navy, with most of her fighting capability intact! And you'd take her back to Pearl, I don't believe it!- Commander Richardson
Albert Salmi was first choice for the role of Mueller, but dropped out due to a personality clash with Clark Gable.
Following an onscreen title card denoting that the setting is 1942, in the Bungo Straits off the coast of Japan, a brief sequence unfolds that in which "P. J. Richardson's" submarine is sunk by a Japanese destroyer. The credits then appear, followed by the main story, which takes place approximately on year later. The following written statement appears at the film's conclusion: "Our appreciation to the Department of Defense, the United States Navy, and the officers and men of submarine Flotilla 1 for the cooperation extended." Although most contemporary reviews refer to the film as Run Silent, Run Deep, the onscreen title contains no punctuation. The film's production company, Jeffrey Productions, Inc., was a subsidiary of Hecht-Hill-Lancaster, headed by producer Harold Hecht, writer James Hill and actor Burt Lancaster.
According to a May 1955 Daily Variety news item, the purchase of Commander Edward L. Beach's novel, Run Silent, Run Deep marked the first time that United Artists acquired a property outright with production assignment to be arranged later. Previously, the company had aligned with independent filmmakers who already had developed their own story properties. According to September 1955 Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times reports, Cary Grant was to star in Run Silent Run Deep, which was to be directed by Delmer Daves. Grant and Daves previously had teamed for the Warner Bros. 1944 World War II submarine drama Destination Tokyo (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). A May 22, 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item states that Nigel Balchin was writing the screenplay with John Gay, who is credited onscreen as the screenwriter.
Hollywood Reporter news items add the following actors to the cast: Albert Salmi, Robert Vaughan, Vince Edwards, Jim Murdock, Vince Williams, Joe Kelsay, Russell Thorson, Jimmy Hayes, Patrick Colby, Paul Busch, Rollin Moriyama, Dale Ishimoto, Jim Yanagi, Joe Awaki, Robert Kino, Jack Sterling, Joe Brooks, Roger Terry, William Angelo, Bob Moechel and Teru Shimada. Salmi, Vaughan and Edwards were not identifiable in the viewed print, and the the appearance of the other actors in the final film has not been confirmed. The film was shot in part on location at a naval base in San Diego, CA. An August 1957 Hollywood Reporter news item indicates that some location filming was to be done on board the U.S.S. Redfish.
Nick Cravat, a longtime personal friend of Lancaster, had appeared in numerous films with the star and was known for never speaking a line. Following a reconciliation of the friends after a long estrangement, Cravat reunited with Lancaster in Run Silent Run Deep, in which his character, "Russo," had several lines of dialogue and provided comic relief.
A September 1957 Los Angeles Times article reported that the Navy Department had shipped more than $500,000 worth of instruments and equipment for use in the submarine interior sets for Run Silent Run Deep, resulting in no "mock-ups" or "dummy" instruments being used in the underwater combat scenes. According to an April 1958 Los Angeles Times article, Run Silent Run Deep was the first film to have an underwater submarine premiere, when the film was shown to a group of navy and press guests aboard the U.S.S. Perch just off Terminal Island in the Pacific. A modern source adds Wayne Dahmer to the cast and Robert J. Schiffer (Makeup artist) and Irving J. Moore (Assistant Director) to the crew. According to modern sources, after constant script rewrites throughout production, co-producers Hill and Lancaster decided to re-edit the film after director Robert Wise submitted his cut, prompting Wise to withdraw completely from post-production. A 1965 Daily Variety news item indicates that a television series based on the movie was being considered, but the show was never produced.
Released in United States on Video May 1, 2001
Released in United States Spring March 1958
Released in United States Spring March 1958
Released in United States on Video May 1, 2001