Wayne Klein | My Little Blue Window, USA | 04/01/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"One of the better cold war dramas produced during the 60's, "Ice Station Zebra" isn't exactly an action adventure; it's more of an action drama. Most of the "action" is the dramatic conflict between Commander Ferraday (Rock Hudson) and his guests Boris Vaslov (Ernest Borgnine)a former Russian spy who now works for British Intelligence, MI-6 secret agent "David Jones" (the wonderful Patrick McGoohan) and Marine Captain Anders (Jim Brown). A nasty ice storm brews at the North Pole. When Ice Station Zebra calls for help the Tigerfish is sent north to break through the ice to save the men stationed there. That's the cover story. The reality is that a satellite has crashed in the arctic tundra and must be recovered before a Russian expeditition gets to it.
The image quality is stellar on this first time release from Warner Brothers. There's hardly any analog or digital artifacts. While there's no commentary track we do get the original promotional featurette on the movie "The Man Who Makes a Difference" and it's actually pretty good at providing behind-the-scenes footage about the shooting of a real Navy submarine to be integrated with visual effects into the movie. The big attraction here is a wonderful 5.1 remix of the original soundtrack. While it's not as active as, say, a brand new movie, it sounds pretty darn good with better depth and expanded sound than any previous incarnation of the movie on home video.
This was originally shot in SuperPanavision and, atlhough this is a widescreen presentation much like "2001: A Space Odyssey". It's a huge improvement on the previously cropped versions that have floated around. The original Overture from the roadshow edition of the movie has been restored to this version with Michel Legrand's marvelous score. The intermission is also included, hence the 2 hour and 30 minute running time.
Patrick McGoohan took time away from shooting his series "The Prisoner" to make "Ice Station Zebra". Ironically he plays another secret agent. "David Jones" doesn't stray too far from John Drake the character he played in "Secret Agent Man" (aka "Danger Man in the UK)but McGoohan's clipped sarcastic delivery and unpredictabllity make him a stand out in the cast. Hudson's relaxed performance as the Commander provides a nice counter balance to McGoohan's intense one and provides a nice counter point to Borgnine's cagey Vaslov. The first half of the film is marvelous and, although it sags during the second half (for a lot of reasons) and the conclusion doesn't have the cinematic style of John Sturges' previous films ("The Great Escape" and "The Magnificent Seven")but, all in all, "Ice Station Zebra" still provides marvelous entertainment. The footage of the real submarine surfacing and going under the water looks marvelous.
Nominated for two Academy Awards (Best Cinematography and Best Special Visual Effects), "Ice Station Zebra" lost in both categories to "Romeo and Juliet" and "2001: A Space Odyssey". The visual effects that open the movie are still exceptionally good and wouldn't look out of place in Kubrick's film of the same year. That's ironic since MGM pulled "2001" from some theaters to premiere "Ice Station Zebra"."
Solid action flick..........but where's the DVD?
Wayne Klein | 07/14/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Ice Station Zebra is one of my favorite flims next Where Eagles Dare, The Green Berets, and The Great Escape. I.S.Z. begins when Navy submarine commander James Farraday (Rock Hudson) is asked to take a British agent (Patrick McGoohan) to a remote outpost known as Ice Station Zebra to find a downed Russian satilite that contain top secret photos of Western missile installations. Tagging along with Farraday is a tough no-nonsense Marine captain, brilliantly acted by Jim Brown, fresh from his role as a prisoner turned soldier in Dirty Dozen. Also tagging along is a defecting Russian played by Oscar-winner Ernest Borgnine. And starring in a cameo in this picture is war movie veteran Lloyd Nolan who plays a U.S. admiral. This movie should have been nominated for Best Special Effects, Best Picture, Best Cinematgraphy, and for Best Sound Effects. I hope that this "lost" gem of a movie is released on DVD format. I wish they would release it in DVD. If you love action movies about the cold war, give this movie a try, I recemend it."
Solid Acting and Effective Production
Stephen Kaczmarek | Columbus, Ohio United States | 05/11/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"At times a taut and effective thriller that seems the pattern for much of Tom Clancy's books, "Ice Station Zebra" has a fairly simple plot: a space capsule with top secret photographs crashes, prompting a race between the Soviets and Americans to recover it from the polar icecap. Yet, the tension is kept reasonably high, even as much of the movie is spent aboard the U.S. submarine carrying the recovery team. Rock Hudson is, well, rock solid as the submarine captain--cool, thoughtful, and easy-going, he plays well against the skulking but ironic British spy (a teriffic Patrick MacGoohan, essentially playing the same part he always does in the way only he seems able to) that may or may not be a saboteur. Viewers will recognize other familiar faces--Jim Brown and Ernest Borgnine among them--that root the film in the 60s, and the whole production--including the cinematography, special effects, and score by Maurice Jarre--are topnotch. The only real weaknesses to the film are the mystery of who is the double agent and an action ending that seems almost anticlimactic when compared to the genuine tension in the rest of the story. Still, it's a better espionage thriller than most of those found in theaters today."
"Released in 1968, "Ice Station Zebra" remains an engrossing, suspenseful thriller, well directed by John Sturges. With films like "The Magnificent Seven" and "The Great Escape" to his credit, you know that any movie directed by Mr. Sturges is going to hold your attention, even if--in this case--it clocks in at over two and a half hours.
The titular station is a weather outpost located close to the North Pole. Something has gone terribly wrong there, and an American nuclear submarine is sent on an urgent rescue mission. Nasty Arctic weather--and the polar ice cap--will not allow any other means of transport to reach "Zebra". Of course, there is a more sinister agenda here than trying to save the lives of a few stranded scientists. This is why the submarine has two espionage "experts" on board--one British and one Russian--as well as a platoon of marines.
Rock Hudson stars as the sub captain. While this role does not challenge Mr. Hudson's acting abilities, he is appropriately fearless and stalwart in the face of danger. Ernest Borgnine is our Russian secret service agent, working for the "West" as a "good Russian"--or is he ? Mr. Borgnine is a good actor, and after the first few scenes, I found myself accepting him in this role. Jim Brown is the tough-as-nails marine leader. I would never call him a great actor, but Mr. Brown is certainly convincing as someone nobody wants to annoy ! Real acting honours in this movie go to Patrick McGoohan as the British "agent". Fondly remembered for his sixties TV series "Danger Man" ( aka Secret Agent ) and "The Prisoner", it will always be a mystery to me why Mr. McGoohan did not choose to make a greater number of films and become a huge star. Frankly, for me at least, he steals the film.
The colour, widescreen picture is excellent, as is the sound for a 36-year old film. While some of the arctic action clearly takes place in the studio, I was impressed with the submarine footage, and once you are under the ice cap, you can really feel the tension. Yes--it's a submarine film--things do indeed "go wrong" !
Ladies--while my wife did enjoy "Ice Station Zebra", she did confirm that this is a "guy movie" ! In fact, there are no women in the cast at all. If you are looking for romance, this is not the place !
It is not clear to me why Howard Hughes would want to watch this film hundreds of times, but is it a coincidence that this DVD starts with a trailer for "The Aviator" ? I don't think so. The disc includes a few other trailers, and an interesting short on one of "Zebra's" cameramen who helped to pioneer action film photography--fascinating.
I suppose the West vs. Soviet "cold war" scenario is dated--in 2005, international tensions are much more complicated--but "Ice Station Zebra" still delivers a tense, exciting story, and this DVD was worth the wait. Recommended.
A very sad footnote, dated 15 January 2009--Mr. Patrick McGoohan has passed away--another fine actor has left us."
One of the Best Cold War Adventure films
Alamo_guy | 01/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"ICE STATION ZEBRA is an outstanding piece of cinema. It is as breathtaking as the day it was released. It does not grow old but continues to grow on you. This is one of Rock Hudson's best performances and the photography and sets are outstanding. Good to have it on DVD at last."