Ice Station Zebra (1968): John Sturges (director) a jpoc movie review
Well paced adventure on the ice
Main Cast
Rock Hudson Cdr. James Ferraday, Captain of USS Tigerfish
Ernest Borgnine Boris Vaslov
Patrick McGoohan David Jones
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jpoc rating and notes
Five out of ten.
Being too young to watch it on cinema release, but old enough to remember the days before video tapes, I first saw this movie on the TV in the seventies.
jpoc review
At his peak, Alistair MacLean was the king of the thriller writers, turning out innumerable novels featuring brave heroes battling wicked villans on location all over the world. Ice Station Zebra is not the only one to have been turned into a movie.

In Ice Station Zebra, the heroes (there is not a woman in sight) are the crew of an American submarine, a detachment of Marines, a British spy and his Russian sidekick. Their official misison is to rescue the stricken crew of a British weather station from their base on the Arctic ice cap. The secret part of the misison is to retrieve a film dropped from a Russian spy satellite. The film should have been dropped over the Russian far north but it went off course and the bad guys, in the shape of Soviet paratroopers are racing to snatch the film as well.

In the late sixties, this type of movie could attract big name stars. In this case the top billing went to Rock Hudson for his role as the submarine Captain James Ferraday. This is a movie with an all male cast though so Hudson had no opportunity to try to generate any on screen chemistry. Ernest Borgnine as Boris Vaslov the Russian working for Nato was similarly compromised. That left the way clear for Patrick McGoohan to show his talents. He has a way of establishing chemistry with situations as if he is playing hard to get with reality. We saw it to great effect in the TV series "The Prisoner" but here we get a feature length dose.

MacLean's novel provides good material that is readily edited into a tight, well paced movie. Of course, the lack of the now mandatory awesome special effects dates this movie but that lack also makes its own point. A good movie does not need to prop itself up with scenes such as a helicopter chasing a train through a tunnel. In Ice Station Zebra, the plot and acting alone are enough.

If this movie is your cup of tea, I would recommend "Where Eagles Dare" which is based on another Alistair MacLean novel and which was shot with a similarly illustrious cast.