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All Movie Guide -Having read the original novel that David Greene's Gray Lady Down was based on, and having actually seen the movie itself in a theater (mostly because Close Encounters was sold out on two other of the multi-plex's screens), this reviewer can safely say that he invested a lot of time and energy in being prepared to like this movie. And the disappointment engendered is all the greater, ss a result. If a by-the-numbers undersea disaster
escue drama is your cup of tea, one need look no further than Gray Lady Down, which took David Lavalle's original story -- a taut and finely etched piece of fiction -- and flattened out its most interesting points, and stretched and pulled its plot all out of shape to accomodate the needs of the three lead actors. Charlton Heston evidently found little real challenge in his role of the captain of the stricken sub, and never stops being, well, Charlton Heston. Stacy Keach gives a one-and-a-quarter note performance (in a role written that way) as the hardnosed leader of the rescue operation. And that leaves David Carradine, supported by Ned Beatty, as the iconoclast navy researcher and his assistant, to bring anything like real characterizations to this picture, which they succeed at; but they don't have quite enough of the movie to carry it all. The rest, as is typical of pictures like this, offer actors caught up in grisly ways to die, which is half the "fun" of pictures like this. Ronnie Cox has two good scenes, and one can spot Christopher Reeve, Dorian Harewood, and other soon-to-be more familiar faces in the cast. But otherwise, apart from Carradine and Beatty's scenes, one will find much more interesting viewing in the Voyage To the Bottom Of the Sea episode Submarine Sunk Here.