Adam Piggott

Gentleman adventurer

Sunday movie thread – The Hunt for Red October.

Some movies are like an old and trusted warm blanket; you know that when you put them on and snuggle up it’s going to be a cozy and relaxing time. I have a large DVD collection as I don’t believe in streaming through third parties, kind of like my complete aversion to storing my data in a cloud. DVDs are great because they’re dirt cheap and if the company who made them goes bust, what do I care?

A few days ago the good folks over at Maggie’s Farm posted up an old documentary on the making of The Hunt for Red October.

I already have seen the documentary as I have it included on my special edition DVD. But it was cool to see it again, and then today I was at a loose end late in the day and I thought, what the hell; I’ll throw on the film and give it another run around the block.

It holds up, of course, as I knew it would. This is a film where everyone involved hit it out of the park. The man who wrote the novel on which the film is based, Tom Clancy, had to have been well satisfied with the finished product.

In his first big screen role, Alec Baldwin stars as CIA analyst Jack Ryan, a researcher who has a problem with a new Soviet attack submarine that has some serious discrepancies with how they’re supposed to be built. The sub, commanded by the ever cool Sean Connery, puts to sea where it transpires that the captain and officers intend to defect.

No scene of this film is wasted. Everything is taut, tight, and to the point. But at the same time the film allows the characters to breathe. Men in dreadful positions of command take their time as they decide the fate of those around them and at times many more. Scott Glenn as a US attack sub commander stands out, as does Sam Neil as a Soviet officer. But really, every single actor on this film gave a wonderful performance. It is if they were all lifted together by their inclusion in such a wonderful project.

It is also a film for men. There is a single female role at the beginning of the film as Jack Ryan’s wife, but after that this is a film not for men, but of men. Not long after I put on the film the Good Wife was snuggled down on the couch beside me; girls just can’t resist a film about manly men doing manly things.

Alec Baldwin’s appalling personal politics aside, I really value his performance in this movie and what he brings to the role. It was somewhat of a travesty that the future films featuring the Jack Ryan character starred Harrison Ford, who was nowhere near as believable in comparison to the younger Baldwin.

Finally we have a line from Sean Connery in the closing scene of the film that I thought was prescient for our times.

A little revolution every now and then is a healthy thing, don’t you think?



9 year old Australian girl refuses to stand for National Anthem.


Stop making sense.


  1. Someone

    A great movie indeed. The Hunt for Red October is the only Tom Clancy novel I’ve ever read and one of the few times I have read the book and watched the movie. I’m not much into thriller novels, but it was good.

  2. Klaus

    The Alec Baldwin story I heard was that when he found out that “Alec Baldwin” was playing in the ,”Team America: World Police” puppet film and that they wanted to wildly exaggerate his liberal ideas…that he offered to speak the role!

    That sounds like he may not take himself too seriously – a bloke you could have a drink with.

  3. Matt

    This was not Baldwin’s first big screen role.

  4. Cool, one of my favorite novels.

    One of the most salient differences between the novel and the movie is Ramius’ motivation.


    In the novel, his wife dies at the hands of a drunk surgeon who was in no condition to perform the operation. But the surgeon was a Communist Party member so he gets away with it. This makes Ramius realize how evil the Soviet system is and so he plans his revenge.

    In the movie, the death of his wife is referenced in a few occasions: the zampolit reading her book, and Ryan realizing it’s her death’s anniversary. But this being a Hollywood movie, the motive cannot be anti-Communist, so they sanitize it. The drunk doctor is not even mentioned, so Ramius’ motivation is completely defused. His letter to the Admiral, who is his wife’s uncle, is therefore also watered down, as is his choice of the date to defect.

    So in the movie, his motivation is explained away with this line after an officer asks him if he did it just for ego (WTF?!) “We each have our reasons, Victor. My own began the day I was handed the blueprints for this ship… a ship which had but one use.” Seriously?! A guy who has spent his entire career commanding submarines armed with nuclear missiles and training other captains and officers to do the same is offended by the blueprints of a ship which had but one use? Nothing could be more out of character.

    Ramius is stripped of the motivation that gave him human depth—and made him an actual anti-Communist hero. And so that final line about the necessity of revolution is strictly non-anti-Communist. It’s disgraceful hippy propaganda—nothing else could be expected from the people involved.

    • Adam

      I haven’t yet read the book, but what you have described is the only part of the film that sits wrongly for me. Ramius’s motivation is indeed hopelessly flawed. But I still love the film.

      • Oh, I do like the movie, but the distortion of the motivation pisses me off so much that I had to mention it.

        The novel is so good that even after having seen the movie, even with the spoilers, it’s a great read.

        Of the parts that didn’t make it into the movie, I like the scene with the Soviet tank veteran working at the post office where the letter to Admiral Padorin is sent.

        • Adam

          I have ordered the dead tree version of the novel. Looking forward to it.

  5. exlib

    Hollywood also changed the Sum of all fears from anti to pro Muslim.

  6. TechieDude

    I’ve read nearly all Tom Clancy’s books. Most are great, until the later ones where he had other writers collaborating with him. The “Jack Ryan” stuff out now was started in one of these later books. He’s the kid of the original Jack Ryan. Pretty poorly written, utility adventure stuff.

    But he had a good half dozen books spawning after Red October. The one that would make a great movie now is “Without Remorse” where he focuses on the coolest character in most his books – John Clark. “Bear and the Dragon” would be an amazing movie to make these days, but alas, can’t make the bear our friend in any way. One thing certain – hollywood would ruin any of these novels in some way. There’d be a homo or spin-kick-hero-chick gratuitously thrown in.

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