D. Roberts | Battle Creek, Michigan United States | 01/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On the big board at NORAD, there is a single horrifying word that, when lit up, makes even combat hardened Admirals and Generals weak in the knees. The word is "DISSUB." It means that there is a disabled submarine, lost somewhere under the waves. It is a word that every senior officer at NORAD hopes that he never, ever sees on his watch.This is a movie about just such a circumstance; an American sub (SSN) on her way home after a routine patrol collides with a Norwegian tanker, due to low visibility. The sub sinks to an unstable ridge on the side of an underwater mountain in the depths of the Atlantic. A furious rescue operation then gets underway by the US Navy to save the sailors trapped on board. This is a fine submarine movie which boasts fine performances by Charlton Heston and Stacy Keach. Even the usually one dimensional David Carradine plays a passable under-appreciated engineer. The direction is also quite good and the special effects are decent.While I was in the Navy, there was a running joke that went something like this: The good news is that you're never, ever more than 6 miles from land. The bad news is, the land is straight down. Here is a frightening story of what happens when an unfortunate submarine slips down to that land. It is a tale which has all the more relevance given the fates of the USS "Thresher," USS "Scorpion" and the more recent incident on the Russian sub "Kursk." This is a worthwhile and realistic Navy movie worth watching. Hopefully, the scenario depicted will never come true."
A solid "disaster" thriller
Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 07/03/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The misfortunes keep piling up, as the Neptune, a nuclear submarine that has collided with a Norwegian cargo ship, sinks to the bottom of the waters near Cape Cod. There are many interesting character studies, as the increasing stress brings out the dark side, and also the heroic aspects of the personalities cooped up and running out of air, as well as those above, attempting to rescue the stranded sub.
Two underwater vehicles are used in the rescue, a two-man experimental Snark, and a DSRV (Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle). There are many taut, exciting scenes in the process, and the pacing by director David Greene keeps the action flowing.Charlton Heston delivers a strong performance as Captain Blanchard, with moments of anguish he dare not show his crew. David Carradine and Ned Beatty, who operate the Snark, add a lot to the film as they try to find the "Gray Lady Down" on the murky ocean floor.
Other notable performances come from Stacy Keach, Ronny Cox, and William Jordan, and Christopher Reeve has a bit part, that if you blink you'll miss.
Great score by Jerry Fielding, and cinematography by Stevan Larner, filmed in part on the USS Cayuga and USS Pigeon.
Despite its many tragedies, ultimately it's a feel-good film, that celebrates American strength and ingenuity, and makes for good, solid family viewing.
Total running time is 111 minutes."
Great Movie; Terrible DVD Presentation
Eric Paddon | Morristown, NJ | 05/03/2000
(4 out of 5 stars)
""Gray Lady Down" was Charlton Heston's last movie as an action lead, and it is a much more pleasing film than some of the other 70s disaster films he appeared in like "Earthquake" and "Airport 1975." This time, the disaster story of a nuclear submarine trapped on the ocean floor after colliding with a ship on the surface, has an air of believability and tension and the rescue procedures we see as the Navy tries to get to the sub before it's too late are well done. Compared to today's high-tech sub movies, "Gray Lady Down" may seem quaint, but that only serves to enhance its charm as a more realistic action film than today's mindless drivel. Christopher Reeve has a bit part as an officer, and it was this appearance that first brought him to the attention of producers Alexander and Ilya Salkind when they were looking for candidates for "Superman".Unfortunately, this new DVD release is not the right way to experience the film since Goodtimes Video has incredibly chosen to release it pan and scan instead of letterboxed, which totally defeats the purpose of DVD entertainment in the first place. Turner Classic Movies has shown it letterboxed before, and I recommend waiting for it to show up there again before being subjected to the wrong way of seeing it. Shame on Goodtimes Video for not doing this film justice with a decent video release!"
Excellent print Great Movie.
Trevor William Douglas | Gorokan, NSW Australia | 07/06/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Make sure your purchase THIS version of Gray Lady Down, it is from Universal and is released in widescreen as it should be. I already had a copy of The Goodtime release which as other reviewers have stated it was in pan and scan."
That Sinking Feeling
Erik North | San Gabriel, CA USA | 08/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"For all the films that have ever been made about submarines, especially nuclear-powered ones (THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, DAS BOOT, etc.), the 1978 drama GRAY LADY DOWN stands out as a very good film that even the passage of more than a quarter of a century can't diminish.
Loosely based on David Lavallee's novel "Event 1000", the film puts legendary actor Charlton Heston in the role of the commander of the nuclear submarine "Neptune". On its way home, the sub is accidentally hit by a wayward Norwegian freighter in dense fog some sixty miles off the Atlantic seaboard. While he and his crew (including Ronny Cox, Dorian Harewood, and Stephen McHattie) try to find ways of staying alive and sane as the sub rests on an unstable slope more than a quarter mile underwater, a massive rescue operation is mounted by a by-the-book captain (Stacy Keach) and a non-conformist Navy man (David Carradine) that involves not only the Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) but Carradine's own debris-clearing vehicle the Snark.
The result is, despite some minor flaws, a very good and taut suspense drama, with Heston giving yet another one of his professional performances, this time not as a megahero (a la BEN-HUR), but as just one of the guys. Keach and Carradine also do a good job under the direction of David Greene, as does Ned Beatty as Carradine's assistant. Solid underwater photography and special effects, plus a tension-packed score by Jerry Fielding (Oscar nominee for THE WILD BUNCH and STRAW DOGS) make GRAY LADY DOWN a thoroughly underrated film that is well worth watching."