Monday, February 25, 2013

Penny Thoughts ‘13—Ice Station Zebra (1968) ***

G, 148 min.
Director: John Sturges
Writers: Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink, Alistair MacLean (novel)
Starring: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Alf Kjellin, Gerald S. O’Loughlin

With Snowmageddon: The Sequel about to reign down on the Midwest, “Ice Station Zebra” seems an appropriate movie for today’s Penny Thoughts. This military mystery thriller garnered two Oscar nominations for this story that is similar in nature to other popular film adaptations of Alistair MacLean’s novels “The Guns of Navarone”, “Where Eagles Dare”, and “Force 10 From Navarone”.

The cast is capably led by Rock Hudson as a submarine captain in charge of beating the Russians to a remote polar military base where a Russian satellite has fallen to the Earth. It is Patrick McGoohan as a British spy with his own secret mission who really steals the show, though. One of the greatest snubs ever committed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in my opinion, was failing to nominate McGoohan as a supporting actor for his role as King Richard I in Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart”. He is so good as seeming to know more than anybody in the room.

“Ice Station Zebra” isn’t an amazing film, but it’s one of those great fun movies. It’s the type of movie I could’ve enjoyed on any random evening with my father. It has military procedures. It has mystery and betrayal. It has some great classic actors, including the wonderful Ernest Borgnine, a favorite with my family. It’s just the type of movie that movies were made for. It also has some wonderful submarine sequences; some of the best until “Das Boot” took the submarine subgenre and slam-dunked it. 

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