Gray Lady Down
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Gray Lady Down
Aging, respected Captain Paul Blanchard (Heston) is on his final submarine tour before promotion to command of a submarine squadron (COMSUBRON). Surfaced and returning to port, the submarine, USS Neptune, is struck by a Norwegian freighter en route to New York in heavy fog. With the engine room flooded and its main propulsion disabled, the Neptune sinks to a depth of 1,450 feet (440 meters) or approx. 241.6 fathoms) on a canyon ledge above the ocean floor. A United States Navy rescue force, commanded by Captain Hal Bennett (Keach), arrives on the scene, but Neptune is subsequently rolled by a gravity slide to a greater angle that does not allow the Navy's Deep-submergence rescue vehicle (DSRV) to complete its work. As technical malfunctions increase, the submarine's sections get flooded and men die, crewmen have nervous breakdowns and tensions grow between the commanding officers.
The meaning and relevance of the film's 'Gray Lady Down' name is that the phrase within the title, a ''gray lady'', is a nick-name for a submarine, so ''gray lady down'' refers to a submarine that has gone down (as in sunk, sink or sinking).
You'd think it would be pretty easy for a submarine and a freighter to avoid hitting one another in the Atlantic. It's a pretty big place, and even though the freighter's radar is broken, the sub's isn't, and they spot the ship on a collision course with them 4 miles out, but the sub, the USS Neptune, cruising on the surface because retiring captain Chuck Heston wants to make a big entrance into New York harbour, isn't willing to give up it's right of way, it doesn't go left, or right, or even down.
Big, gruff, and masculine 70s acting is on showcase here, in what's otherwise a dinky little Poseidon Adventure echo about a submarine that gets clipped by a fishing vessel and sinks down into a trench below its crush depth. Somehow the boat stays together, and it's up the men on board to stay alive and assist their rescuers. Heston is the ship captain (literally on his last voyage before retirement), with Ronny Cox as his XO, Stacy Keach in the "Robert Stack in Airplane!" part, and Carradine as the inventor/soldier whose experimental sub features into the rescue attempt.
In fact, the title refrs to the cleverly named, illfated Neptune, a nuclear submarine which becomes the object of elaborate rescue operations after being rammed by a blundering. Nowegian freighter. The Neptune's shake down cruise is transformed into a swan song, but skipper Charlton Heston and about 40 crewmen remain alive in the mortally damaged sub as it teeters on a ledge 1,400 feet beneath the surface and 60 miles off Bew London, Conn.
Tropes Include: A Father to His Men: Blanchard. Somewhat bitterly lampshaded by the XO, who calls him "Captain Friendly." The Captain: While Gates is technically captain of the Snark, Captain Bennett is superior to him, and orders him to take one of his own men with him (instead of Gates' second in command) to do the search for the Neptune that Gates considers unqualified. After the man mistakes a sunken sonar target for the Neptune (a submarine about a hundred times the size of an automobile), Gates surfaces and demands Captain Bennett let him use his own man. Bennett asks if his guy making one error was sufficient reason to abandon the search: Gates: "When I'm steered to a '52 DeSoto Yes, sir!" Bennett later softens to a Reasonable Authority Figure when he sees how committed Gates is to rescuing the men on the Neptune. The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Mild example. The XO is extremely shaken and embittered by the accident, and takes it out on the Captain. Establishing Character Moment: Gates out jogging at a beach, ignoring the man who try to get him to come back in, until they tell him that his sub is needed to save lives. He immediately hops into the jeep without a word. Facial Horror: A Machinist's Mate's face is badly burned by steam in the initial collision. He collapses in agony and drowns as the engine room floods. The Film of the Book: Adapted from the 1971 novel Event 1000 by David Lavallee. Heroic BSoD: Blanchard after seeing his XO's drowned corpse in the Control Room. Heroic Sacrifice: Neptune's XO stays in the rapidly-flooding control room in order to close a watertight hatch and save the men on the other side, while one of the junior officers stays at the ballast control panel to hold the valves open and right the boat. Gates later drives his minisub under Neptune's hull to buy the remaining survivors a few extra seconds to board the DSRV before she goes over the undersea cliff. Insert Grenade Here: A gravity slide has knocked a large boulder into the boat, and shifted the position of the Neptune's emergency escape hatch so that it can no longer be reached from the DSRV. Captain Bennett has an idea. Have the Snark bring down a shape charge of C4 in its carrying arm so that the explosive will pulverize the boulder but not damage Neptune, allowing it to roll forward and right itself. Lost in Transmission: Part way through the rescue, Neptune's underwater telephone ("Gertrude" in Navyspeak) fails. To signal to the men inside what is happening, the Snark goes to the crash site, lands on Neptune's outer hull casing, and Gates then uses a wrench to tap Morse Code through the hull. Nerves of Steel: A prerequisite to being a Captain. Military Maverick: Captain Gates. He designed and built a specialized mini-sub that can do a lot of useful functions with nothing but scrounged resources and the help of his second in command. He's damn good at what he does, and he knows it. Pet the Dog: The Neptune's Communications officer freaks out over the surface not hearing his repeated signal attempts, and Captain Blanchard has him forcibly removed from the bridge. When the officer subsequently apologizes to Blanchard, the Captain kindly replies that he (the Comms officer) was only saying what everyone else was thinking. Blanchard later relies on him to decode the Snark's Morse Code communications. Gates also gives one to Bloome after the first unsuccessful search attempt, pointing out that it's not Bloome's fault he's unfamiliar with the workings of a custom ship he's never seen before. Race Against the Clock: While there's enough air and food for the surviving crew to last until rescue, the overloaded watertight hatch to the engineering spaces is leaking, and the place where the boat is resting is subject to severe gravity slides. They have perhaps 22 hours if everything holds. If anything goes wrong, the ship falls into the trench and it's a two-mile ride to the bottom. As the ship is already below its rated crush depth, any further sinking would cause it to implode, killing any survivors. Oh, and there is exactly one watertight door between the sea and the rest of the ship. About half-way through the movie, it starts leaking... Shout-Out: While the crew is waiting for rescue, they're watching Jaws. Suicide Mission: Gates decided to take the Snark down alone to watch the explosion to blow up the boulder (see Insert Grenade Here) so they can know if it took. Gates refuses to let his second in command come along because of the danger. The explosion takes and the DSRV can rescue the remaining men. When a gravity slide causes the Neptune to start to slide into the trench during the rescue, Gates pushes the snark in the way, sacrificing himself to block the Neptune from sliding further, giving them the extra few seconds to escape, before Neptune and the Snark slip and fall into the trench. Troubled Fetal Position: When The Captain has to resort to this, you know it's bad.
The band seemed to be in an orgasm, as the gigs not only slowed down the recording process, but Grey Lady Down returned in fact with a more mature and adventurous album.This is some great Neo Prog in the classic vein of ARENA, ABEL GANZ, IQ and MARILLION, the band obviously lacks in personality, but what's left to make this one a trully excellent releaseFirstly comes the fantastic voice of the man called Martin Wilson, among the top singers of the genre, sensitive, dramatic and expressive chords all the way to result a first-class performance by the band's frontman.Additionally the songwriting and compositions seems now more tight and intricate.The band added a few extra elements in the previous style like grandiose symphonic passages, more evident GENESIS-inspired synth solos and a greater number of dramatic atmospheres.Nothing unique, but the well-accomplished and promising sound of their debut now has a more cohesive and dramatic result.Superb flashy synths, great guitar solos and lots of symphonic grandieur along with a more complicated but always well-polished songwriting guarantee a really fantastic listening.''Forces'' is no less than awesome Neo Prog in the best early-80's tradition, switching from the roughness of these years to more elaborated parts, but played a bit later, just to satisfy all the fanatic audience of the style.Highly recommended. social review comments Review PermalinkPosted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 Review this album Report (Review #657930)
Grey Lady Down is an archetypal and rather generic British Neo-Prog band playing music that is quite heavily and straightforwardly in the same style as that of (early) 80's IQ, Marillion and Twelfth Night, but without any of the novelties and distinctive features of those bands. This debut album released in 1994 (but could just as well have been released in 1984 from the sound of it) also lacks the memorable melodies of the more well-known 80's Neo-Prog bands. Personally, I fail to see the attractions of The Crime and my biggest problem with it is that every song sounds just like any other. There are not enough of changes in mood, tone, tempo or in the instrumental attack on the album and the result is rather flat. I detect a Punk (or Post Punk) flavour in this recording, especially the drums are often simplistic and straightforward. If judged one by one, almost all the songs here are decent and even mildly pleasant, but after only a few tracks I tend to tire of the sound of the album. All the way till the end, the listener is basically offered just more and more of the same middle-of-the-road Neo-Prog. There are a couple of exceptions, though, one positive and one negative. The positive one is the acoustic introduction to Thrill Of It All which sounds very good. But when the synthesisers and drums enter it all gets back to the same established sound once again. It does get a bit tedious after a while, even for me who have learned to appreciate much music in the Neo-Prog category. The negative exception is the embarrassing Annabel, the only track of the album that is downright bad and cheesy (which frankly could be expected as it is after all a song with a girl's name as its title).The vocals of Martin Wilson gets a lot of praise, but for me he has a rather anonymous and indistinctive voice. He has some talent for sure, as does the rest of the band in terms of instrumental skill, but as song writers, they leave a lot to be desired. They are obviously attempting to be catchy, in a Marillion' Market Square Heroes-way, but as the songs lack strong enough melodies, they fail to "catch" the listener (this listener, anyway). I thus found this album to be a rather tedious listen, but after having forced myself to sit through it several times, I can conclude that it leaves little impression on me. Only recommended for Neo-Prog fanatics social review comments Review PermalinkPosted Thursday, June 23, 2011 Review this album Report (Review #467788) 59ce067264