I’m referring to the movie with Alec
Baldwin and Sean Connery. Sam Neil, too … and
Ed Rooney (Ferris Bueller’s old nemesis)
playing “Skip,” a wheelchair-bound sub driver, but
that’s neither here nor there, as the kids say … or
do they? Mayday! Mayday! S.O.S. and stuff.
I don’t know the lingo no mo. OMG.
I’m salty – this explains why movies made in
the eighties and nineties are fresh on my mind.
Want to know my favorite scene in this one?
It’s the part where Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin)
tells Burt Mancuso, C.O. of the Dallas
(an American fast-attack submarine)
he’s sure Marko Ramius (Sean Connery)
always goes to starboard in the bottom half
of the hour. “Con? Sonar. Crazy Ivan!
The Russian is turning, sir!” “Which way is he
turning?” “To the Starboard, sir!” yells Jonesy, the
enlisted Sonar Tech Petty Officer.
“Well I’ll be a son of a…,” the Captain says.
“Full reverse, Jonesy. Let him hear our rudder.”
“What’s the point of this?” Ryan wonders aloud.
“We unzipped our fly. Let’s see how he reacts,”
the captain spits back. “Flood both torpedo tubes.
If that bastard so much as twitches I’ll blow
him out of the water.” What does Ramius do?
Can you remember the scene? He stays calm and
floats his boat to the surface to have a look.
See, the Vilnius Schoolmaster was a cool,
customary Russian. Lithuanian
by birth, of course. He liked nothing more than the
tranquil solitude fishing provided. As
he rose the Red October, I’m sure he was
thinking about how far away he was from
all his favorite places to cast his line.
Meanwhile, Mancuso had his finger on
the trigger, itching to blow the Russian boat
to kingdom come or Timbuctoo. What was it
Ramius called him? Buckaroo? Right. That means
cowboy and it is not a compliment. Back
to the moment of truth, on the surface of
the brutal gray Atlantic as perfect storms
cycloned in the torrential skies above two
steel submarines: U.S.A. … C.C.C.P.
Captain Mancuso takes a memo from Jack
and starts tap-tap-tapping away. Dot-dot-dash?
Morse code. Flashing lights. Who knows what’s being said?
Two captains: Ramius, Marko. Mancuso,
Burt. Communicating. You know … keeping up
foreign relations. Back inside the Dallas
the scene transforms itself from cinema to
reality. “Tell me something, Ryan,” says
the C.O. “How did you know he would go to
starboard just now?” A long beat. “Uh … I didn’t,”
Ryan admits. “I needed a break. I had
a fifty-fifty shot so I took it.” Burt
pauses for a moment, then smirks a bit. “That’s
all right, Mr. Ryan,” he states. “My morse is
so rusty I’m probably sending him the
dimensions for our Playmate of the Month.”
In that moment, those two men established trust.
You know at some point Mancuso wondered if
Ryan was lying … he was. So? The point is,
Jack could have continued the ruse of knowing
the Russian sub commander after having
met him the one time, years before . Instead he
swallowed the jagged little pill called Pride and
said, basically, “OK … yes. I lied. Sure. But…
aren’t you glad I did? Ramius is not
a bad guy. He’s a soldier. He’s a sailor.
He’s not a spy. He’s a teacher. He wants to
live the way we do. Free to fish. Free to drive
from state to state with no papers or police
check points set up at the borders of North and
South Carolina. What do you say, Captain?
It’s Burt and Jack, part of a rescue mission.