Run Silent, Run Deep
The other night, I thought it would be fun to take Run Silent, Run Deep, the movie my father adapted back in 1958, and watch it on our vintage Philco T.V. I loved the way the tiny screen amplified the tight space in the submarine, making it all the more real. This was the movie that launched my father into a successful Hollywood career, a timeless story of men in battle, which would be shown on television more than any other film he wrote.
During the shooting, Dad had a memorable visit to the sub, in San Diego, where the action took place. After serving in the Coast Guard, he knew about the dangers submarine sailors faced. What he wasn’t prepared for was the captain’s sense of humor. In the following scene from Any Way I Can; 50 Years in Show Business, his memoir we wrote together, Dad tells the story of when Hollywood was “taken for a ride.”
“Safely submerged, we set out to sea in maneuvers that had to match mock encounters with other Navy craft in which dummy torpedoes would be used. By lunchtime, Wise and I were still bushed from lack of sleep and asked the captain if we could just sack out for twenty minutes. He was glad to oblige and let us use his own quarters with double tiered bunks.
I had only just closed my eyes when the sub gave an alarming shudder, a groan, another shudder, and started to sway back and forth. ‘Uh-oooga! Uh-oooga!’ came on the loudspeaker. And then utter silence. No engine sound.
Wise and I sprang to our feet. Two crew members entered the captain’s quarters and the air-tight hatches were sealed behind them immediately. Silence. They stood on guard, still silent, hands behind their backs, at attention.
‘What’s going on?’
No answer. No response. The silence was both deafening and alarming. They stood there like statues. And they remained that way for what seemed like an hour. Then a voice came over on a loud speaker. ‘Secure from collision drill! Secure from collision drill!’
A grinning captain greeted us when the hatches were opened. It was obvious that he enjoyed his little stunt enormously, taking Hollywood for a ride. The first shudder was all ahead full to all reverse. Second shudder was firing off a dummy torpedo. How did it feel? We offered weak smiles. ‘Oh, yes. Terrific stunt. Great.’”
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