Heightened tension. Divided loyalties. Claustrophobia-inducing spaces. Can two people be both right and wrong at the same time? Sounds like a typical day in quarantine… And a typical day for the crew of the USS Alabama in Tony Scott’s 1995 submarine thriller, Crimson Tide, which turns 25 and is today’s Lockdown Rewatch. Starring Gene Hackman as the grizzled war vet, and Denzel Washington as the green, fresh out of the academy rookie – both men go head-to-head when a message to fire a missile at Russia is followed by a second, garbled message. Do they follow orders? Sit it out? Do what they feel is right? Tense talks, tense moments, tense action… tense everything and a (always) fantastic track from Hans Zimmer, help make Crimson Tide a memorable dive.
But did you know…
1) The film had a few different writers take a stab at the script including Quentin Tarantino – he can be thanked for silver surfer chat. Scott had previously directed another Tarantino script, True Romance.
2) On Top Gun, Scott had the full assistance of the U.S. Airforce and assumed the same would be true of the U.S. Navy… However, they refused to cooperate with filming as they were unhappy with the story dealing with a U.S. Navy mutiny. As a result, the French navy stepped in allowing the film access to one of their Triomphant Class ballistic missile submarines, along with the aircraft carrier Foch for several scenes.
3) Despite the U.S. Navy’s non-cooperation Scott still managed to film a U.S. submarine submerging at Pearl Harbour. He was tipped off about the sub, and sped off to Hawaii with a film crew. In a striking coincidence, the ship submerging that day was… The real life USS Alabama.
4) The plot of Crimson Tide is loosely based on a real-life clash of wills that occurred on a nuclear submarine during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet sub was isolated and believed itself at war; the three officers required to approve of a strike against the US sub could not agree, so didn’t fire its payload.