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Surprisingly tedious and resolutely dull
on 6 December 2014
It's no great surprise that tedious low-budget war movie Submarine X-1 spent two years on the shelf before briefly emerging as a supporting feature in 1969 and promptly sinking back into well-deserved obscurity. What is surprising is that anyone thought it was worth pointing a camera at in the first place. Perhaps spurred on by the success of their 633 Squadron, the Mirisch Company seemed to be trying for something similar with mini-subs on another suicidally impossible mission, but with a lower budget, no love story, virtually no dramatic conflict and a very dull cast headed by a clearly bored James Caan as the unpopular submarine officer who gets a shot at redemption after losing most of his crew if he can train a group of volunteers to take on a German battleship with experimental three-man submarines. It had all been done much better by the unexceptional Above Us the Waves 14 years earlier, and no-one in front of or behind the cameras can summon up any enthusiasm for this tired contractual obligation filmmaking.
The script is trite and devoid of any character, William A. Graham's direction relentlessly flat and undramatic, the training scenes that make up the bulk of the film by the numbers stuff and the only girl that briefly turns up in the film is only there to sprain her ankle at the first sign of a German paratrooper. Even composer Ron Goodwin can't come up with a theme, memorable or otherwise, to spur things along. Almost heroically dull and uninteresting here, Caan can't do a Canadian accent so does a thick Bawstuhn wuhn instead, which is about as interesting as it gets. Monotonous in the extreme.