The Atomic Submarine

Year: 1959

Director: Spencer Gordon Bennet

Stars: Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey

I’ve been going through a retro-sci-fi kick recently, and the other night selected this relatively unknown movie from the back end of the fifties.

The Atomic Submarine cashed in on the two big ‘sciencey’ things dominating the American psyche at the time: space aliens and all things nuclear. It tells the story of a US Navy submarine’s mission under the polar ice cap to solve the mysterious and tragic disappearances of ships and submarines in the region. Of course, the sub is atomic-powered and the ships are being destroyed by a submerged alien spaceship. and of course in the end it’s Humans 1, Aliens 0. However, that just tells half the story.


There’s almost as much focus on relationships and personal tensions as there is on defeating the alien bent on colonizing the planet. There’s a pacifist among the war-mongers, there are scientists and soldiers, there are those who value life and those for whom fallen colleagues are simply ‘fortunes of war’.

All that having been said, it’s a shame that the acting is so wooden and the scenery so bland. Because there’s a good plot here, discussing principles of war and peace better than most other films of the age managed.

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