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Ice Station Zebra
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Ice Station Zebra

2.8 6
Director: John Sturges

Cast: Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan


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A top-secret Soviet spy satellite -- using stolen Western technology -- malfunctions and then goes into a descent that lands it near an isolated Arctic research encampment called Ice Station Zebra, belonging to the British, which starts sending out distress signals before falling silent. The atomic submarine Tigerfish, commanded by Cmdr. James Ferraday (


A top-secret Soviet spy satellite -- using stolen Western technology -- malfunctions and then goes into a descent that lands it near an isolated Arctic research encampment called Ice Station Zebra, belonging to the British, which starts sending out distress signals before falling silent. The atomic submarine Tigerfish, commanded by Cmdr. James Ferraday (Rock Hudson), is dispatched with orders to get to Ice Station Zebra carrying three passengers, a Englishman going by the name of David Jones (Patrick McGoohan), a Soviet turncoat named Boris Vaslov (Ernest Borgnine), and an American Marine officer, Captain Anders (Jim Brown), who is supposed to command the Marine unit assigned to the mission. Jones is problem enough, as he is in command of the mission and he prefers to withhold as much information as it's possible to do from Ferraday, even at the risk of the Tigerfish's safety. Add to that the fact that Anders is suspicious of Vaslov, and Vaslov seems much too inquisitive and is telling even less of what he knows about the mission, and Ferraday has his hands full trying to get these men to the polar ice -- 600 miles of dangerous travel -- in just two days. When an attempt to break through the ice -- coupled with some timely sabotage -- kills one man and nearly destroys the boat, the men surrounding these contending parties start to understand just how high the stakes are for everyone. It turns out that the Soviets want what was aboard that satellite as much as the West does; indeed, both sides are frantic to get it, and, just as much, to keep the other side from getting it -- and they're prepared to take it by brute force. Once Ferraday and his men arrive at Zebra, they find a disaster and still more mystery, with most of the men dead and the object that Mr. Jones is supposed to secure nowhere in evidence, and he and his two fellow men of mystery suddenly showing their killing instincts quite freely. And with the storm clearing from the Soviet side first, their planes and their paratroops are closing in on Ferraday, and his relative handful of men.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
This 1968 action-adventure film, a well-made Cold War thriller loaded with intrigue, pits U.S. and Russian forces against each other in the search for compromising satellite photography taken at a remote polar outpost. Rock Hudson plays the American submarine commander who takes a British secret agent (Patrick McGoohan) and an expatriate, anti-Communist Russian (Ernest Borgnine) aboard his ship as they head into Arctic waters. The film adaptation of Alistair MacLean's bestselling novel gets off to a slow start, but director John Sturges picks up the pace dramatically once all the exposition is out of the way. He achieves high suspense in an extended sequence depicting the sub's maneuvering in and around a massive ice field, and again in a climactic confrontation that reveals a cleverly disguised foe. Hudson comes across as properly stoic and completely competent, with McGoohan occasionally stealing scenes simply by virtue of his considerable charisma. Borgnine, who could have easily overplayed his role, exercises restraint and is all the more effective for doing so. Ex-football star Jim Brown registers strongly as an enigmatic Marine officer, too. The film is nicely done in every respect and, while dated, holds up a lot better than you might expect. It's especially good as a dramatic vehicle for Hudson, who spent far too much time during the '60s in fluffy romantic comedies.
All Movie Guide
Sharp dialogue, special effects that hold up fairly well, and a witty, wryly humorous performance by Patrick McGoohan show that Howard Hughes wasn't totally crazy sitting in that Las Vegas hotel room (obsessively watching this, his purported all-time favorite film). Rock Hudson may be the lead, but McGoohan is the real star. His verbal tangles with Hudson over the nature of their secret mission sparkle and give the film most of its fun. McGoohan's portrayal of a somewhat sordid spy who wants to say nothing, and Hudson's as a commander who must know everything, rise above the Cold War story line and give the film an almost timeless appeal. Spare, tight performances from veteran character actors Lloyd Nolan, Gerald S. O'Loughlin, and Ted Hartley help the two leads to shine. Ernest Borgnine's cheerfully amoral Russian defector and Jim Brown's Russian-hating Marine captain mirror the macho fun with their antagonist dialogue, especially when the submarine seems about to sink. (Borgnine: "Captain, if you were to compose your epitaph right now, what would it be?" Brown: "Knock it off.") The film falters in its late section, going with some cheesy special effects -- including Russian planes that are obviously toy-size miniatures, and an indoor polar landscape set -- and the score is redundant at points, but Zebra is a worthy predecessor to The Hunt for Red October, Crimson Tide, and other modern submarine epics.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Home Video
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Special Features

Vintage making-of featurette The Man Who Makes a Difference; Theatrical trailer

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Rock Hudson Cmdr. James Ferraday
Ernest Borgnine Boris Vaslov
Patrick McGoohan David Jones
Jim Brown Capt. Leslie Anders
Tony Bill Lt. Russell Walker
Lloyd Nolan Admiral Garvey
Alf Kjellin Col. Ostrovsky
Gerald O'Loughlin Lt. Cdr. Bob Raeburn
Ted Hartley Lt. Jonathan Hansen
Murray Rose Lt. George Mills
Ron Masak Paul Zabrinczski
Sherwood Price Lt. Edgar Hackett
Lee Stanley Lt. Mitgang
Joseph E. Bernard Dr. Jack Benning
John Orchard Survivor
Michael T. Mikler Lt. Courtney Cartwright
Jonathan Lippe Russian Aide
Ted Kristian Wassmeyer
Boyd Berlind Bruce Kentner
David Wendel Cedric Patterson
Ronnie Rondell Lyle Nichols
Craig Shreeve Gafferty
Michael Grossman Kohler
Wade Graham Parker
Michael Rougas Fannovich
Jed Allan Peter Costigan
Buddy Garion Edward Rawlins
T.J. Escott Lt. Carl Mingus
Buddy Hart Hill
Gary Downey Lorrison
Robert Carlson Kelvaney
Don Newsome Timothy Hirsch
Bill Hillman Philip Munsey
Dennis Alpert Gambetta
James Dixon Earl McAuliffe
James Goodwin Survivor
Lloyd Haynes Webson
L. William O'Connell Survivor

Technical Credits
John Sturges Director
John Calley Producer
John M. Connolly Consultant/advisor
George W. Davis Art Director
Daniel L. Fapp Cinematographer
Harry Julian Fink Original Story,Screenwriter
Henry W. Grace Set Decoration/Design
Addison Hehr Art Director
Douglas Heyes Screenwriter
Earl McCoy Special Effects
Michel Legrand Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision
H.E. Millar Special Effects
Jack Mills Set Decoration/Design
Franklin E. Milton Sound/Sound Designer
Martin Ransohoff Producer
Thomas Schmidt Asst. Director
Carroll L. Shepphird Special Effects
Clarence Slifer Special Effects
John M. Stephens Cinematographer
Ralph Swartz Special Effects
Nelson Tyler Cinematographer
Ferris Webster Editor


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Ice Station Zebra 2.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
AlchemystAZ More than 1 year ago
It was a little fun at the time it came out--not much competetion then--but who needs Cold War Fantasy?! The real top-secret B.S. goings on are just now being declassified. We almost nuked a spot on The Moon, by golly. Dropped plutonium from a plane over L.A. Had a secret armed satellite. Etc. Etc. No amount of fake snow can cover today's revelations, so we are ready to hate Rock Hudson again?? Not his best outing. See SECONDS instead.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
tenore More than 1 year ago
I highly reccommend this film.I find it to be one of the most memorable films of its genre and time period. It is beautifully filmed,well paced and engaging from start to finish. The performances are stellar with Rock Hudson's being the best of all. To my mind he remains one of the best actors of his generation as well as one of its best leading men! I enjoy this film more with each viewing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unbelievable plot.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Intrigue, betrayal, mystery, this one has it all. My opinion this is Rock Hudson's best performance. A classic Cold War thriller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago