The blog post below links to an article by James Jay Carafano on the 10 movies which, for him, define the Cold War. Any list of this nature is inherently personal but since I’ve been working on a post touching on conservative/libertarian themes in movies, I was a little surprised to see omitted from Jim’s list the movie which, for me, defines the Cold War: The Hunt for Red October.

I was not a Tom Clancy fan during the 80s. I was too young to appreciate his genius. This movie adaptation of his debut novel introduced me to the rest of his body of work, and I was blown away. As a young Army officer I read Red Storm Rising in awe of Clancy’s ability to fictionalize what we referred to as the "Fulda Gap" scenario – which by the time I read it following the fall of the Berlin Wall, was obsolete.

While the movie doesn’t directly depict the hardships of living in Soviet Russia, it’s premise – officers of a Soviet nuclear submarine plan to defect to the United States – hints at just how bad their lives were. The interplay between Sean Connery’s character and the submarine’s Political Officer also gives the audience a glimpse of just how repressive the Soviet government was. And Sam Neill’s surprise that in the US he will be allowed to drive "state to state" with no papers hints at a reality Americans cannot fully understand.

Clancy didn’t write "message fiction" – he would have been much less popular if he had. He did write insightfully about reality and it was this reality which made the story so compelling.

This movie also introduced me to Alec Baldwin, who is wonderful in the film. I learned much later that he is bat-crap crazy, but watching his performance here you realize why he is a star.

The other movie I would have included is a Clint Eastwood flick, Firefox. It wasn’t a critical success and didn’t make much at the box office, but it’s depiction of life in the Soviet Union was very compelling. It also offered a haunting portrait of three Jewish scientists willing to give their lives to thwart their Communist oppressor’s military plans. And Warren Clarke’s portrayal of Pavel Upenskoy in the film was brilliant.

The special effects don’t hold up well 30 years later, but Eastwood is great and there are quite a few still quotable lines, including this one from Dr. Baranovich:

Mr. Gant, you are an American. You are a free man. I am not. There is a difference. If I resent the men in London who are ordering my death, then it is a small thing when compared with my resentment of the KGB.

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