Similar to some other films of the cold war genre ("Seven Days in May", "Fail-Safe"), this has a decidedly anti-war/anti-military slant, where in this case the two people who are most "in control" are a journalist, played by Sidney Poitier, and an ex-Nazi naval commander (well played by Eric Portman).
This is Richard Widmark's show though, who with his craggy looks and fierce eyes makes the most of his part as Eric Finlander, captain of the U.S.S. Bedford, patrolling the icy waters of the North Atlantic, looking for Soviet submarines. Finlander is a loose cannon, bypassed for promotion, and irrationally hard on his crew.
Others in the cast of note are James MacArthur, very good as a young ensign, Martin Balsam as the ship's doctor, Wally Cox, Michael Kane, and in a small part, Donald Sutherland, recognizable more by his unique voice than his face.
The sound is fantastic; from the first few minutes, with its combination of excellent modernistic score by Gerard Schurmann, howling wind, and circling helicopter, it captures one's attention, and keeps the tension going in this fine sea thriller. It also has some stylish b&w cinematography by Gilbert Taylor, with terrific contrast of light and shadow.
Entertaining and well paced, with every minute of Widmark's screen time riveting, this taut drama is well worth spending 102 minutes of your time on.