“Ice Station Zebra” (1968) starring Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan & Jim Brown / Z-View

Ice Station Zebra (1968)

Director: John Sturges

Screenplay: Douglas Heyes, Harry Julian Fink, W. R. Burnett based on Ice Station Zebra by Alistair MacLean

Stars: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan, Jim Brown, Tony Bill, Lloyd Nolan, Gerald S. O’Loughlin, Ted Hartley, Ron Masak, Sherwood Price, John Orchard, William O’Connell, Michael T. Mikler and Jonathan Goldsmith.

Tagline:  An American nuclear sub. a sky full of Russian paratroopers–and a race for the secret of Ice Station Zebra!

The Plot…

A Russian satellite containing information vital to the security interests of Russia and the United States has crashed in the Artic circle.  Commander James Ferraday (Hudson) of the US nuclear submarine, Tigerfish, has been directed to retrieve the information at all costs.  In addition to his crew, Ferraday is transporting a marine unit that will provide support should Russians attempt to intervene.

While in route, three men are delivered to Ferraday’s sub: David Jones (McGoohan), Boris Vaslov (Borgnine) and Captain Leslie Anders (Brown).  Jones is a British intelligence agent.  Vaslov a Russian who defected to Britain.  Anders is a seasoned soldier sent to command the marine unit.  When it becomes obvious that an traitor is onboard, Ferraday’s suspects are one of the new arrivals.

In a race to retrieve information vital to freedom of the world, Commander Ferraday will find himself in the ultimate showdown with a battle-hardened Russian military unit, and a traitor willing to die to stop Ferraday.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Ice Station Zebra was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Cinematography (Daniel L. Fapp) and Best Effects, Special Visual Effects (Hal Millar, J. McMillan Johnson).

Ice Station Zebra is an action thriller layered with the mystery of a traitor willing to die to make sure the Americans don’t succeed.  The reveal of the traitor is well done and the way the secret is kept from the characters in the movie (even after the audience learns the traitor’s identity) is clever.

Ice Station Zebra was reportedly Rock Hudson’s favorite of his films.  Howard Hughes loved the movie so much he would call the television station he owned and demand they play it. (This was in the days before cable, VHS and DVD players,)  Viewers would call and complain that the scheduled shows/movies were pre-empted, but Hughes didn’t care.

I’m a fan of the Ice Station Zebra poster above.  They don’t make ’em like that anymore.

Ice Station Zebra (1968) rates 3 of 5 stars.