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Gray Lady Down

Charlton Heston is back in jeopardy. He's 60 miles off the coast of Connecticut stuck with 41 other sailors on the edge of an ocean canyon in a nuclear submarine, waiting for Stacy Keach to organize a rescue mission. If Keach doesn't hurry one of three disasters will soon happen: water pressure will crush the sub's hull, oxygen will run out, or the boat will slip off the ledge.

Charlton Heston is back in jeopardy. He’s 60 miles off the coast of Connecticut stuck with 41 other sailors on the edge of an ocean canyon in a nuclear submarine, waiting for Stacy Keach to organize a rescue mission. If Keach doesn’t hurry one of three disasters will soon happen: water pressure will crush the sub’s hull, oxygen will run out, or the boat will slip off the ledge.

David Carradine and Ned Beatty enter the scene after Heston and crew suffer a pair of double setbacks. First their surfacing vessel is rammed by a Norwegian freighter and plunges straight down. Then an earth tremor covers the sub’s escape hatch.

Up to this point things are fairly routine [in a story based on the novel Event 1000 by David Lavallee, adaptation by Frank P. Rosenberg]. Heston looks courageous; Ronny Cox, the second in command, freaks out; some crew members get sick, and a handful die; Heston’s on-shore wife is informed of her husband’s condition and adopts a visage of sadness; Keach, a very formal officer, promises Heston and crew that everything will be all right.

But the second disaster – the escape hatch burial – calls for special action. Enter Carradine, a subdued Navy captain and inventor of an experimental diving vessel known as the Snark, and his assistant, Beatty. They resemble a disaster movie’s Laurel and Hardy. They’re a nice twist.

Gray Lady Down

  • Production: Mirisch/Universal. Director David Greene; Producer Walter Mirisch; Screenplay James Whittaker, Howard Sackler; Camera Stevan Larner; Editor Robert Swink; Music Jerry Fielding; Art Director William Tuntke
  • Crew: (Color) Widescreen. Available on VHS. Extract of a review from 1978. Running time: 111 MIN.
  • With: Charlton Heston David Carradine Stacy Keach Ned Beatty Stephen McHattie Ronny Cox
  • Music By: