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Top 10 submarine movies

Updated on May 2, 2013

Ever since I was a kid, I've always been fascinated by submarines. So naturally, this is one of my favourite movie genres. People often say to me, "but submarine movies don't have much scenery" or "they are about men in a tin can under the waves". Well that's the point! There aren't much special effects or scenery to distract you. Submarine films tend to submerge (excuse the pun!) you into a claustrophobic atmosphere. Without much changes to the scenery, these films rely on gripping tension and brilliant acting.

So this is hub is my tribute to this genre - these are the ten films that I think you should have in your collection.

1 - Das Boot - Directors cut (1981)

Director: Wolfgang Petersen

Starring:Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Grönemeyer,Klaus Wennemann

Das Boot is a harrowing thriller which to this day remains the most expensive film produced by a German studio. This film is based on the novel, inspired by actual events, Das Boot follows the lives of a German U-Boat crew on active service in the Atlantic ocean during World War II.

Brilliantly acted, Das Boot creates a claustrophobic atmosphere and high tension for the viewer. In my opinion, this is the best war film ever made. a true masterpiece.

2 - Das Boot (1981)

I like this film so much, that I had to put the original cut at number 2. Seriously folks, I could have padded this list out with a host of submarine films but this one is a must see film. A point to note - the German cast did the voices for the English dubbing but avoid that - watch it in German with English subtitles. Jurgen Prochnow went on to become a successful Hollywood actor, and his performance here shows you why.

3 - The Enemy Below (1957)

Director: Dick Powell

Starring:Robert Mitchum, Curd Jürgens,Theodore Bikel, David Hedison

Tense World War II thriller following the battle of nerves during a of pursuit a German U-Boat by an American Buckley Class destroyer escort. Any mistake in this deadly game of cat and mouse could lead to certin death. Superb acting and directing make for compelling viewing. Also, I have to mention that this film won an Academy Award for Best special effects (1957).

4 - Crimson Tide (1995)

Directed by: Tony Scott

Starring:Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington

In 1994 a US nuclear sub receives unverified orders to launch a strike on Russia - with the possibility of World War III breaking out the crew turn on each other leading to mutiny. The confined space and the high pressure situation immerse you in the mental stress of potentially making the wrong decision.

5 - The Hunt For Red October (1990)

Directed by: John McTiernan

Starring:Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones, Tim Curry, Joss Ackland, Courtney B. Vance, Larry Ferguson,Stellan Skarsgård

With the Americans and the Russians both pursuing the Sovier nuclear sub - the Red October, a lone CIA man battles against time to prevent it from being destroyed be either side.

My favourite Sean Connery film brings a star studded cast together. Based on the Tom Clancy bestseller, the film doesn't disappoint.

6 - K-19: The Widowmaker (2002)

Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow

Starring:Harrison Ford, Liam Neeson

Fictionalised account of a real-life incident. The K-19, ominously named The Widowmaker due to the number of deaths during it's construction, suffers a serious malfunction during it's maiden voyage. The film accounts the heroic attempts of the crew to avoid a nuclear catastrophe.

7 - Run Silent, Run Deep (1958)

Directed by: Robert Wise

Starring: Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden

Clark Gable stars as P.J. "Rich" Richardson, an obsessive US Submarine captain determined to avenge the sinking of his former ship in the Bungo straits. Considered by many as one of the great action films of this genre, Run Silent Run Deep explores themes of courage, loyalty & endurance during times of war - as well as bringing to the viewer the grim reality of submarine warfare.

8 - U-571 (2000)

Directed by:Jonathan Mostow

Starring:Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel, Thomas Kretschmann, Jon Bon Jovi

Controversial account how the Enigma Cipher machine was captured during World War II. I say controversial because it was the British HMS Bulldog that actually captured the machine - but still fantastic action movie.

9 - We Dive At Dawn (1943)

Directed by: Anthony Asquith

Starring:John Mills, Eric Portman

Thriller about the hunter becoming the hunted. British sub Sea Tiger attacks the German Battleship Brandenburg in the treacherous Baltic sea. Not knowing if they have sunk it and with not enough fuel to return to England the crew battle to get home without being captured or sunk. One of the earliest submarine films made, I put this in the list ahead of other because of John Mills, a fine actor.

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10 - Crash Dive (1943)

Directed by: Archie Mayo

Starring: Tyrone Power, Anne Baxter, Dana Andrews

Action thriller with a romantic subplot. Tension ensues between two friends as the discover that they are in love with the same woman. They have to put it behind them and work closely together to carry out a commando raid on Nazi tankers. Well acted, a great movie for those rainy Sunday afternoons.


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    • BeBrown profile image

      BeBrown 6 years ago

      Eddie, not seen that one (or heard of it) Will have to check it out... along with Up Periscope.

    • profile image

      eddie 7 years ago

      what about grey lady down

    • OpinionDuck profile image

      OpinionDuck 7 years ago


      I haven't seen either of the Das Boot movies so I can't comment on them, but I do like all the ones that you listed that were made in the 40s and 50s.

      I like one that you didn't mention, "Up Periscope" with James Garner and Edmund Obrien, I think it was from 1959.

    • Ign Andy profile image

      Ign Andy 7 years ago from Green Home Office

      All great movie here, but I haven't saw the 40's movie.

      Das Boot and Crimson tide are my favorite.

    • BeBrown profile image

      BeBrown 7 years ago

      Yes, thats a cool film but Das Boot is my all time favourite (as you can see).

    • prettydarkhorse profile image

      prettydarkhorse 7 years ago from US

      thank you, nice presentation and information is good, I like The Hunt for Red October, Maita

    • BeBrown profile image

      BeBrown 7 years ago

      Thanks Michael, I've just recorded Hell and High Water (Richard Widmark) on Sky + today - can't believe I've never seen it before... will watch it later on, and might have to change this list slightly.

    • Michael Shane profile image

      Michael Shane 7 years ago from Gadsden, Alabama

      Great info, I think I have only seen a few...Need to check out the others...Thanks!

    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 7 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Excellent hub, and a great topic. I've seen all but two of these movies (the Widowmaker and U-571) and they were all great with excellent acting, suspense and action. Both versions of Das Boot were superb! I had the opportunity to walk through U-505 at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and I can tell you it is unbelievably claustrophobic. It's very tiny and nothing but iron and steel with pipes everywhere. You'd never think anybody could be in there and underwater for long periods of time -- much less while ducking depth charges. Good job.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 7 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I have seen U-571 and this is good movie. And thanks for showing me collection of submarine movie. I think those are awesome. Good work, my friend.