Friday, July 30, 2010

The 100 Best Movies: #41

41. The Hunt For Red October (1990)

Towards the end of the Cold War, there was a move in books and films to show a more humanistic quality to both sides of the many years of virtual standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union. Tom Clancy, a master novelist when it comes to international political thrillers, published one of his finest novels in 1984 and it was one of his first books to feature his now famous hero, Jack Ryan. It also was the first novel to be published under the U.S. Navy's publishing label. The book was an immediate commercial and critical success. In 1990, Paramount Studios released the film adaptation of the novel. The film starred Sean Connery in the crucial role of Soviet Captain Marko Ramius and featured Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan. Connery (who had just come off an Oscar win for Brian de Palma's The Untouchables) has a steely, cold demeanor for Ramius that absolutely serves the character. The story is of how Ramius, in his powerful nuclear submarine the Red October, has gone silent and both the United States and Soviet governments want find him (the U.S. to investigate and interrogate him and the Soviets to just stop him from defecting). The way Connery plays it is that we, the audience, do not really know what he is up to until that crucial moment about 45 minutes into the film (no spoilers people!). And Baldwin's charming deameanor (let's face it, he is the talented Baldwin!) plays off of Connery extremely well. The film also features great supporting performances from Sam Neill, Scott Glenn, Tim Curry and the always amazing James Earl Jones (and his voice you pray to God for!). While the film was not a critical success (including a scathing review by the Washington Post), it was a huge box-office hit and over time has become an audience favorite. It is a great action-thriller that takes us back to the time of Cold War politics and the power to destroy the world in a confined space.

Next Post: #40

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