Posts Tagged ‘patrick mcgoohan


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


TV Update: The Prisoner

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” – Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, from “The Prisoner”


patrickWith these words Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) sets out to escape his confinement: The Village. Number Six was formerly a secret agent; now he was being housed in a village where people only had numbers, not names, and he was constantly being questioned as to why he retired. Each week Number Six matched wits against Number Two (a character that changed from actor to actress), who looked out for the interests of Number One. Whether it was brainwashing, an art competition, or being voted in as Mayor of the Village, Number Six could never truly escape. Adding to his problems was Rover, a giant white ball that would be released from the ocean to capture a captive, usually by suffocation.


Currently AMC is remaking the series. Jim Cavieziel plays Number Six, while Ian McKellen plays the head of the Village, Number Two. The filming is said to finish shortly, putting the series on the air sometime in 2009.


3dvd_Dangerman.epsThe original series came about because of its main benefactor, Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was in a series called “Danger Man”/ “Secret Agent Man” from 1960-1962, then 1964-1966. In it he played John Drake, at first an agent for NATO assigned to cases in (and outside) NATO jurisdiction. During the second season he was retconned and became a British agent, working for MI9 (as opposed to MI6). Rumor has it that during a dinner party McGoohan said that he was quitting the series which prompted one guest to ask, “What does a ‘Secret Agent’ do after they retire?” In the case of “The Prisoner,” one puts in their resignation, packs up at their home, then is gassed. When they wake up their in a carbon-copy domicile, except they’re in a place called The Village, and everyone wants to know why they left.


I became a fan of “The Prisoner” while in college in the early 2000’s. The series had just been released on DVD, and from the time I watched the first episode (“Arrival”) to the last (“Fall Out”), I was impressed by the writing and acting in the series. McGoohan’s character was “Everyman”; a thinking person putting individuality over conformity. Without using guns he had to outwit his captors, who unfortunately saved their best card for last. Another interesting twist in the series was the revolving of “Number Two.” Number Two would report to the unseen Number One and if he was one-up’d by Number Six, he or she would be replaced. I count Leo McKern as my favorite of the Number Twos.


tv_prisoner1“The Prisoner” would go on to influence the spectrum of film, tv, and music. The TV show “MacGuyver,” with Richard Dean Anderson playing the titular role, was based on Number Six. Afraid of using guns, MacGuyver had to find his way out of situations, employing his pocketknife, bubble gum, duct tape, the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth, what-have-you. Heavy metal group Iron Maiden made two songs in homage to “The Prisoner”: “The Prisoner” and “Back in the Village.” There have also been numerous books, comics, and video games that directly, or indirectly, reference “The Prisoner.” An upcoming film is also slated to be directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Memento”).


For more information on the “Prisoner” remake, check out AMC’s site at:


For more information on the original series, check out Six of One, the Official Prisoner Appreciation Society. They’re site is:




Be seeing you.