Tuesday, June 14, 2011

That's Typing Tuesday #7: Crimson Tide

"That's Typing" Tuesday, in which I share unpolished, unpublished writings from my vast store of unpolished, unpublished writings. On Tuesdays.

From my notes on the 1995 submarine thriller, Crimson Tide:

There's a telling moment early in Crimson Tide—Gene Hackman as the submarine skipper is standing on the conning tower with the last minute replacement for his executive officer (Denzel Washington). As they sail out of port, they smoke cigars and watch the sunset, a long moment of silence.

At last Hackman says, "Bravo, Hunter."


"You knew to shut up and enjoy the view. Most eggheads want to talk it away. Your stock just went up a couple of points."

Which is true enough—as the man said, "Be here now." Yet, ironically, it's Hackman who is talking away the moment, and therein lies the scene's subtlety. He's no "egghead," but he is a bully, and he can't stand the notion that anyone could experience anything differently than he would. So he attempts to browbeat Washington even in this, a cigar and a sunset. Establish the pecking order right off the bat. He might just as well challenge his first officer to a pissing contest right there on the conning tower of the sub.

Washington neither backs down nor responds to the bait. He's inside himself where his sense of who he is resides. Just where it should be.

In fact, watching the movie again I was struck by just how much Hackman does talk. The man simply cannot shut up—about anything. Which makes him not only a bully, but an insecure bully at that, a dangerous enough phenomenon even when he isn't packing nuclear heat ...


Yvette said...

A favorite submarine movie of mine is THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER. Is this as good as? I'm not familiar with it, M.M.

Sounds like maybe I will want to see this. I think.

Who Am Us Anyway? said...

Underrated book, underrated movie, I say! Let's face it: Tom Clancy flat out can't write but he can plot like a motherf- and in a rich vein here, Mutiny on the Bounty, The Caine Mutiny ... & Crimson Tide reminds me of a tale told by a best friend years ago, of a party he was at, and where (he says) he found himself at an ungodly late hour trapped by a hopelessly stoned young man with a MESSAGE, which message was, this fellow had finally really "heard" the Steely Dan song. My bud said this guy "was like the Ancient Mariner" and came onto him with this "They call Ala-BAM-a the Crimson Tide -- call me ... Dea ...con .., Blue." He said the guy just kept after him, saying those lines slower and slower but not really explaining anything ... although it felt like maybe he was

Mythical Monkey said...

That's a great story, Who, although I have to admit, I'm glad I wasn't on the receiving end of it.

I'm of just the right age that Steely Dan's Aja was a big deal. My brother and I probably wore the grooves out on the record, and it seems like his band covered "Peg" for a while, but don't quote me.

I do remember one of my law school pals, the son of a cab driver from Queens, NY, said the line "Drink your big black cow and get the [frak] out of here" was their signature line in his school days.

Good times ...

Mythical Monkey said...

As for comparing The Hunt for Red October and Crimson Tide, I would say the latter is more intense and claustrophobic with few likable characters, but a very taut story. Who's mention of The Caine Mutiny and Mutiny on the Bounty are apt, especially if you focused it all on the mutiny and the philosophical difference of opinion that sparks the mutiny.

I remember thinking at the time it might have made a very good episode of The Twilight Zone, in the sense that underneath the action is a nifty little think piece.

Worth putting on your Netflix queue ...

mister muleboy said...

Worth putting on your Netflix queue ...

A movie about raising cows in Iowa would be worht putting on your Netflix queue


it starred Gene Hackman

and starred Denzel Washington

and featured supporting performances from (then-lesser-known) James Gandolfini and Viggo Mortensen and Steve Zahn

and it featured a subdued, not over-the-top George Dzundza

That they all appear in a taut, well-directed movie (Tony Scott understands making movies, manipulating you just like a good movie-maker should -- see Unstoppable) with some thoughtfulness is just gravy.

btw, it's not Macbeth and Hamlet -- it's a taut action movie, in a claustro[hobic, unlikely action setting. And it's memorable enough that I remembered all of the details above without relying on IMDB or anything but my recollection.

mister muleboy said...

I apparently can't type anymore.

What the eff is up with that.