Run Silent, Run Deep
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|Run Silent, Run Deep|
Film poster by Reynold Brown
|Directed by||Robert Wise|
|Produced by||Harold Hecht|
|Screenplay by||John Gay|
|Based on||Run Silent, Run Deep
by Edward L. Beach, Jr.
|Music by||Franz Waxman|
|Editing by||George Boemler|
|Distributed by||United Artists|
|Running time||93 minutes|
Run Silent, Run Deep is a novel published first in 1955 by then-Commander Edward L. Beach, Jr.. The name refers to "silent running", a submarine stealth tactic. Run Silent, Run Deep is also the name of a 1958 movie starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster and based on the same novel. The story describes World War II submarine warfare, and deals with themes of vengeance, endurance, courage, loyalty, and honor, and how these can be tested during time of war.
The novel was on The New York Times Book Review list for several months. Beach served on submarines in the Pacific Ocean during the war, and this adds to the realism of the story. He composed two sequels to Run Silent, Run Deep: Dust on the Sea (1972), a third person narrative detailing later patrols of the Eel; and Cold is the Sea (1978), about Richardson's later career in nuclear submarines.
Beach's bestselling novel of submarine warfare begins soon before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The story is ostensibly the transcription of a Navy tape recording, as related by Commander Edward J. Richardson for use in a war bond drive, of events resulting in his award of the Medal of Honor.
The captain of an old submarine used for training at New London, Connecticut, Richardson and his crew are assigned to fit out and commission a new submarine, the USS Walrus, and take her to Pearl Harbor to destroy Japanese shipping in the Pacific Ocean. His executive officer and former best friend, Jim Bledsoe, is resentful because Richardson was forced to fail him during Bledsoe's qualification for command after Bledsoe acted recklessly, nearly sinking their boat. Adding to the difficulties between them, Richardson is secretly enamoured of Bledsoe's fiancee, Laura Elwood, who despises him for ruining Bledsoe's chance. Laura and Jim wed just before Walrus departs New London.
During their first war patrol in the Walrus, they encounter the Japanese destroyer Akikaze, whose skipper, Captain Tateo Nakame (nicknamed "Bungo Pete"), is responsible for a series of sinkings of several American submarines in the Bungo Suido, including the USS Nerka, which had been commanded by a close friend of Richardson's. Richardson, wounded in a subsequent encounter with Bungo, remains at Pearl Harbor while Bledsoe commands the Walrus for three war patrols. Bledsoe establishes a reputation for himself as an aggressive skipper with a good rate of sinkings. Between patrols, Bledsoe has an extramarital affair at Pearl Harbor, causing Richardson anguish for Laura's sake. During its next patrol, however, Walrus becomes Bungo Pete's seventh victim.
During his stint ashore, Richardson works on solving reliability problems with American torpedoes. Richardson is given a new command, USS Eel, when her skipper comes down with tuberculosis. When the news of the loss of Bledsoe and the Walrus arrives, Richardson convinces his superiors to let him hunt Bungo Pete in the Eel. A great battle ensues in a raging storm between the Eel, fighting on the surface, and Bungo Pete's special anti-submarine warfare group, which consists of a Q-ship, a Japanese submarine, and the Akikaze. After sinking all three vessels, Richardson discovers three lifeboats in the vicinity and realizes that Bungo Pete and his skilled specialists will be rescued to resume their hunting. He intentionally rams the lifeboats.
Soon after 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 begin a relationship with Laura Bledsoe.
The World War II U.S. Navy submarine commander P.J. Richardson (Clark Gable) has an obsession with the Japanese destroyer that had sunk his previous boat and three others in the Bungo Straits. He persuades the Navy Board to give him a new submarine command with the provision that his executive officer, also known as the XO or the "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 a crafty ex-submariner, now destroyer captain, nicknamed Bungo Pete. Richardson's 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 leadership for denying him command of the boat which he believes should rightfully have been his.
Richardson begins to drill the crew on a rapid bow shot, during which the submarine shoots at a destroyer moving in for the kill "down the throat" (i.e., at its bow coming head-on), which is normally considered a desperation shot due to the extremely narrow profile of the target. 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 destroyed submarine. Soon 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 barely escape destruction from depth charges. Three of the crew are killed, and Richardson suffers a skull fracture which incapacitates him. They are also almost 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 submarine 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 boat, 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 realizes additionally that the submarine now has a real advantage—the Japanese believe they are sunk and their source of intelligence has ended—and returns to the Bungo Straits to fight the Akikaze destroyer, which the submarine defeats only to be subjected again to a mystery torpedo. Richardson deduces that it was not the Akikaze alone which had been destroying the US submarines but a Japanese submarine working in concert with the destroyer. He orders the boat into a dive just seconds before a Japanese torpedo shoots by. The US submarine then forces its adversary to surface and destroys it. The older submarine skipper thus achieves his revenge. The film ends with Richardson dying from his head injury and being buried at sea.
There are a number of differences of plot of the book as compared to the movie. The period covered by 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 (after suffering a serious injury during action), and working on the torpedo exploder problem when his first command, USS Walrus, is sunk with the loss of all crew including Jim Bledsoe.
In the novel, the conflict between Richardson and Bledsoe starts much earlier while both men are reconditioning the old USS S-16 (SS-121) in Naval Submarine Base New London for service by the Polish Navy. The mutinous attitudes of the crew in the movie are an extension of Bledsoe's earlier rebelliousness in the novel. Richardson conns his boat through a wild night surface action against a Japanese convoy. The movie, produced with the assistance of the US Navy, does not feature the Eel ramming Japanese lifeboats: this change may have been due to the Navy's concerns about the accusations related to Dudley W. Morton shooting into lifeboats while commanding Wahoo.
The cinematic version of his novel was not particularly an object of affection for its author, Edward L. Beach. He would say later that the movie company bought only the title 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 pictures. 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 movie debut in a small role, and in his 2007 memoirs he recalled that during filming Gable would sometimes frustrate the moviemakers (including Lancaster, who was a financial investor in the movie) by adhering to a strict 9-to-5 approach to the workday—he would reportedly stop working during the filming of major scenes. Later in his life, Lancaster publicly had nothing but praise and admiration for Gable, whom he described as a consummate professional.
The movie contains several accurate depictions of torpedo attacks being arranged with periscope sightings, range and bearing calculations, and use of a Torpedo Data Computer to achieve a shooting solution. On the surface, the Captain uses a Target Bearing Transmitter mounted on the bridge to acquire a target visually and mark its bearing input for the shooting 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 using its diesel engines, and the use of its SJ radar in making accurate range and bearing calculations, although with greater risk of being sunk by bombs and shell fire. The director, Robert Wise, had real submariners working with 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, and the scenes now provide modern-day audiences with a fascinating view of what life was like aboard World War II submarines.
The special effects were completed simply using models, long before computer generated imagery (CGI) techniques were developed, and are clearly relatively crude by later 20th and 21st centuries standards, but were considered to be state-of-the-art when the movie was filmed in 1957.
- Edward L. Beach. Run silent, run deep. Pocket Books, 5th printing, 1963. POCKET BOOKS; ASIN: B000FQBEDG
- Run Silent, Run Deep at the Internet Movie Database
- Run Silent, Run Deep at AllRovi
- Run Silent, Run Deep (1958) at Rotten Tomatoes
- Run Silent, Run Deep at the TCM Movie Database
- George Chabot's Movie Review
- Book Review - J.T. Daniel Official website
- Book review - SubSim.com