Run Silent, Run Deep

Run Silent, Run Deep

name= Run Silent, Run Deep

imdb_id= 0052151
amg_id= 1:42321
producer= Harold Hecht
William Schorr (assoc)
director= Robert Wise
writer= Edward L. Beach, Jr. (story)
John Gay (screenplay)
starring= Clark Gable
Burt Lancaster
music= Franz Waxman
cinematography= Russell Harlan
editing= George Boemler
distributor= United Artists
released= March 27, 1958 (USA)
runtime= 93 min.
language= English

"Run Silent, Run Deep" is a war film released in 1958 based on the 1955 novel by then-Commander Edward L. Beach, Jr.. It was directed by Robert Wise andstarred Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster; and featured the film debut of Don Rickles.

Movie plot

World War II United States Navy submarine Commander P.J. Richardson, (Clark Gable) has an obsession with the Japanese destroyer that sank his previous boat and three others. He convinces the navy board to give him a new sub command with the provision that his exec be someone who has just returned from active sea patrol. He is single-mindedly training the crew of his new boat, the USS "Nerka", to return to the Bungo Straits and sink the destroyer, captained by the crafty ex-submariner, now destroyer captain, nicknamed Bungo Pete. The executive officer, Lieutenant Jim Bledsoe (Burt Lancaster), is worried about the safety of his boat and his crew. Bledsoe also is seething with resentment at Richardson and the Navy brass for denying him the command of the ship which rightfully should have been his.

Richardson begins to drill the crew on a rapid bow shot, normally a desperation move in which the sub fires at a destroyer moving in for the kill "down the throat", i.e. at its bow coming head-on. He then bypasses one target only to take on a Japanese destroyer using the bow shot on which they have drilled. The crew becomes outraged when it becomes apparent that Richardson is choosing to avoid all legitimate targets in order to enter the Bungo Straits undetected in direct contradiction to mission orders, jeopardizing the boat and its crew merely to avenge the dead submarine. Shortly after engaging Bungo Pete, they are attacked by aircraft that had been clearly alerted to their presence and had been waiting in ambush. They are forced to dive and narrowly escape destruction from depth charges. Three of the crew are killed and Richardson suffers a skull fracture which incapacitates him. They also come close to being hit by what they mistakenly believe is one of their own torpedoes doubling back on them. By sending up blankets, equipment, and the bodies of the dead, they convince the Japanese that the sub has been sunk. Bledsoe uses Richardson's incapacitation to assume command and as an excuse to return to Pearl Harbor.

While listening to Tokyo Rose proclaiming the sinking of their ship, they are mystified how the Japanese were able to identify the crew of the boat. They later realize the Japanese are collecting their garbage. Bledsoe then further realizes that the submarine now has a real advantage--the Japanese believe they are sunk and their source of intelligence has dried up--and returns to the straits to take on Bungo Pete which the sub defeats only to be again subjected to a mystery torpedo. Richardson deduces that it was not Bungo Pete alone who had been killing the US subs but a Japanese sub working in concert with the destroyer. He orders the boat into a dive just seconds before a Japanese torpedo shoots by. The US sub then forces its adversary to surface and destroys it. The older sub skipper thus achieves his revenge. The film ends with Richardson dying from his head injury and being buried at sea.

It should be noted that "Run Silent, Run Deep"'s plot bears thematic similarity to "Moby-Dick", with Richardson as Ahab and the Japanese destroyer as the whale.

Novel plot

Beach's bestselling novel of submarine warfare begins shortly before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The story is ostensibly a Navy tape recording about events, as related by Richardson, leading to his award of the Medal of Honor. An American submarine captain, Richardson is given a new boat with orders to destroy Japanese shipping in the Pacific. His executive officer and former best friend, Jim Bledsoe, is resentful because Richardson is forced to fail him after Bledsoe acts recklessly during his test for qualification for command, nearly sinking their boat. Adding to the difficulties between them, Richardson is secretly in love with Bledsoe's fiancee, Laura, who despises him for ruining Bledsoe's chance. Bledsoe and Laura decide to marry anyway, despite his loss of command.

On their first war patrol in the "USS Walrus", they encounter the Japanese destroyer "Akikaze", whose skipper, Captain Tateo Nakame, is nicknamed "Bungo Pete" and who is responsible for a series of sinkings of American submarines in the Bungo Suido, including the "Octopus", on which Richardson served and the "Nerka", captained by a close friend. Richardson, wounded in a subsequent encounter with Pete, remains at Pearl Harbor while Bledsoe takes the "Walrus" out for three war patrols. Bledsoe establishes a name for himself as a highly aggressive skipper with a high rate of sinkings. Between patrols, Bledsoe has an extramarital affair at Pearl Harbor, causing Richardson pain for Laura's sake. On the last of the patrols, however, Bungo Pete sinks the "Walrus".

During his stint ashore, Richardson works on solving reliability problems with American torpedoes. When the news of the loss of Bledsoe and the "Walrus" comes in, Richardson convinces his superiors to let him return to the Bungo Suido and hunt Pete in a new submarine, "USS Eel". An epic battle ensues between the "Eel" and Bungo Pete's special anti-submarine warfare group, which consists of the "Akikaze", a Q-ship, and a Japanese submarine. After sinking all three vessels, Richardson realizes that Bungo Pete and his skilled specialists will be rescued to resume their hunting, and rams the lifeboats intentionally to kill them.

Following the destruction of Bungo Pete, the "Eel" is detailed to lifeguard duty off Guam, where Richardson's actions saving three aviators earns him the Medal of Honor. After the war he returns home, expressing his hope to win the love of Laura Bledsoe.

Beach served on submarines in the Pacific during the war, and this adds to the realism of the story. He penned two sequels to "Run Silent, Run Deep": "Dust on the Sea" (1972) and "Cold is the Sea" (1978).


There are a number of differences in the plot of the book, as compared to the movie. The period covered in the book is much longer — from before the bombing of Pearl Harbor in December 1941 until the end of the war. Like the movie, Richardson has two fleet boat commands in the book. The movie uses many plot elements of the novel, such as Japanese gathering intelligence from the sub's garbage. However, in the book, Richardson is ashore recovering from a broken leg and working on the torpedo exploder problem when his first command, the "Walrus", is sunk with the loss of all hands including Jim Bledsoe.

In the novel, the conflict between Richardson and Bledsoe starts much earlier while both men are reconditioning the old "S-16" in New London for service in the Polish Navy. The mutinous attitudes of the crew in the movie are not a part of the novel's plot. Richardson does not suffer a serious injury in action, and cons his boat through a wild night surface action against a Japanese convoy.

The film version of his novel was not particularly an object of affection for its author, Edward L. Beach. He would later say that Hollywood only bought the title (it was on "The New York Times Book Review" list for several months) and was not interested in producing an accurate depiction of the theme and plot of his novel.


The USS "Redfish" was used for many of the exterior shots. Captain Rob Roy McGregor, who had commanded two fleet boats ("Grouper" and "Sea Cat") during World War II, acted as technical advisor.

Don Rickles made his film debut in a small role. In his 2007 memoirs, he recalled with some amusement that during filming, Gable would sometimes frustrate the filmmakers (including Lancaster, who was an investor in the film) by adhering to a strict 9-to-5 approach to the workday. Gable would reportedly stop working right in the middle of key scenes. Some of the more dramatic sequences in the film come when Bledsoe angrily confronts Richardson over his collusion. Lancaster's anger was possibly made all the more realistic by his being exasperated with Gable off camera. Later in life, Lancaster had nothing but praise and admiration for Gable whom he described as the consummate pro.

The movie contains several accurate depictions of torpedo attacks being set up with periscope sightings, range and bearing calculations, and use of a Torpedo Data Computer to achieve a firing solution. On the surface, the captain uses a Target Bearing Transmitter mounted on the bridge to acquire the target visually and mark its bearing input for the firing party inside the conning tower. This depicted the preferred tactic of night surface attack, taking advantage of both the submarine's greater speed and maneuverability running on its diesel engines, and the use of its SJ radar in making accurate range and bearing calculations, and although with greater risk of being sunk by bombs and shell fire. Wise had real submariners work the cast until they could realistically depict the complexities of these torpedo attacks. Submarine veterans of World war II who viewed the film remarked on the accuracy of these scenes.

The special effects, using models and relatively crude by today's standards, were considered state of the art when the movie was filmed in 1957.


External links

*imdb title|id=0052151
*tcmdb title|id=20880
* [ George Chabot's Movie Review]
* [ Book Review - J.T. Daniel Official website]
* [ Film review] by Bosley Crowther - "New York Times" - March 28, 1958
* [] - Book Review -

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