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Atomic Submarine, The

Entry updated 4 April 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1959; vt The Atomic Sub). Gorham Productions/Allied Artists. Produced by Alex Gordon. Directed by Spencer Gordon Bennett (credited as Spencer G Bennett). Written by Orville H Hampton from an original story by Irving Block and Jack Rabin (uncredited). Cast includes Dick Foran, Arthur Franz and Brett Halsey. 80 minutes cut to 72 minutes. Black and white.

In what was then the Near Future of the mid-1960s, cargo submarines (see Under the Sea) and other craft regularly traverse the Arctic Sea. After several of them disappear mysteriously, Commander Dan Wendover (Foran) is sent to the region in the Tigershark, an advanced submarine with various features including a separate mini-submarine, the Lungfish. Wendover's crew includes Lieutenant Commander Richard "Reef" Halloway (Franz), his Executive Officer, and Dr Carl Neilson Jr (Halsey). There is considerable friction between these two, since although the senior Neilson designed the Tigershark his son is a pacifist, which does not sit well with Halloway. The crew soon discovers the cause of the disappearances, an underwater UFO. Torpedoes are fired at this futuristic craft but fail to explode, instead becoming enmeshed in a gel-like substance which the UFO exudes. Ramming the vehicle instead, the Tigershark becomes wedged in its hull. Franz and some others board the vessel, and encounter a tentacled Alien with one large eye, its sole occupant. This being informs them that it has been scouting the Earth for possible Colonization by its species, and will shortly return with a positive report. After most of the boarding party is killed, and the alien wounded by a Verey flare pistol fired into its eye, the survivors escape, as does the submarine. The alien craft demonstrates self-repair abilities while a plan is formulated to turn one of the sub's torpedoes into a surface-to-air missile that is successfully used to destroy the UFO as it exits the sea. Why the protective gel does not work outside the sea is left unexplained. Pacifism is duly discredited at the conclusion as Neilson Jr sees the "error" of his ways.

The Atomic Submarine is one of several movies featuring nuclear-powered submarines produced around 1960, the best known of them being Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961). Here, the triumph of the might-makes-right philosophy is a somewhat troubling feature of the plot. [GSt]


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