Posts Tagged ‘ice station zebra


Movies on DVD Review: Ice Station Zebra



Not much of an ice station…

Stars Rock Hudson, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, and Ernest Borgnine. Directed by John Sturges.

Story: Nuclear sub Commander James Ferraday (Hudson) receives notice that him and his men must travel to the North Pole and escort a guy named “Jones” (McGoohan) to a civilian camp for Top Secret reasons. Seeing as the paperwork comes from so high up the command chain he would get a nosebleed, he accepts. “Jones” is a mysterious character who knows more about what’s going on than the Captain and lets him know it. On their trip North they stop and pick up Vaslov (Borgnine) a Russian defector and Marine Captain Anders (Brown). Vaslov is affable and friendly, but uncomfortably pokes around the sub to learn more about it; he’s also good friends with Jones. Captain Anders is dry, hard-nosed, and by-the-book. When prepping a torpedo tube leads to sabotage and the death of a crewmember, the Captain tries to find the saboteur. Is it Anders, Vaslov, Jones, or even one of the crewmembers themselves? When they break through the Northern ice and get to the civilian camp they find half of the people barely alive, while others were shot before being burned in the fire. The hunt is on for a secret canister of film that both sides (American and Russian) want because it contains satellite intel on every base operated by them.

First off let me praise the WB for having an extremely clean print of the film. I watched in on DVD in HD and it’s clean and clear; no grain that stood out. This film was well taken care of.

Secondly, it’s an intriguing film to watch. If you decide to watch it do yourself a favor and view the trailer before seeing the movie because it essentially has the “backstory” you may need to understand what’s going on. Just a helpful hint.

Does the movie hold up to now? Well, it’s a good story. A little dated (it was a Cold War movie) but it’s still enjoyable. The only thing that seems somewhat “stilted” is when the Russians paratroop onto the ice to close in on the base; it seemed a little “hokey” for my tastes. As well as the Russian MiG flyovers.

Why should you watch this movie? Cold War allegory beside, two reasons to watch: Patrick McGoohan and the cinematography. I enjoyed “The Prisoner” (McGoohan’s spy series) and he made this movie in the middle of doing that. If you’re a fan, ya gotta check this one out.

The cinematography was incredible and a good portion of that was because of John Stevens. Stevens was the Second Unit Director who shot the sub under the ice scenes, as well as the crashdive and aerial views. If you love camerawork and what can be/has been done in movies, the scene where the sub is under the ice is enough alone to warrant renting this one. There is a featurette on the disc called “The Man Who Made a Difference.” It talks about Stevens and how he worked on this as well as “Grand Prix” (another good movie, especially for cinematography). Do yourself a favor and check him out on IMDB to see what other Second Unit work he’s done; you’d be surprised.

The story is okay, the acting is good, the music works, and the cinematography is the cherry on top.

My grade: B (solid)


In Passing… Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009)

patrick_mcgoohanBritish film and television actor Patrick McGoohan passed away on January 13th. McGoohan’s career dates back to the 50’s with appearances in “You Are There” and “Moby Dick Rehearsed” on TV, as well as films “Passage Home.” As his career took off he was offered the role of James Bond but turned it down, opting to create a spy who uses his wits instead of guns and created “Danger Man” (“Secret Agent Man” in the U.S.). The show ran from 1960-61 and 64-67 and had a good following. Toward the end of “Danger Man,” McGoohan was asked, “What does a spy do after retirement?” This led to the influential cult TV series “The Prisoner.”

McGoohan starred as well as co-wrote and directed a few episodes in this series about a spy who retires and is kidnapped and placed in The Village, a secluded locale that housed retired spies, giving them numbers and taking their names away. He starred as Number Six and each week he had to outwit the Village head Number Two who had a direct mission under Number One to find out why Number Six retired; meanwhile, Number Six struggled to find out who Number One really was. The end of the series was so aggravating that it made the front page of the London Times.

After “The Prisoner” McGoohan continued in film with roles in “Ice Station Zebra,” “Scanners,” “The Phantom,” and “A Tike to Kill,” and in TV with the show, “Rafferty.” He’s also greatly remembered as King Longshanks in Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart.” McGoohan was 80 at the time of death.

Number Six has left the Village. Be seeing you.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.

For more information check out his IMDB page at:

Longshanks in “Braveheart”

“The Prisoner” intro