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  • After being cleared for all blame for a manoeuvre that cost him his submarine and the lives of 50 men, Commander Bolton is given the command of a secret training mission based from Scotland. With a small group of men, he trains to operate several 3-man submarines that will be used to infiltrate German waters and ambush key boats within the German navy. However, men within the group blame him for the deaths and also are under a great deal of pressure with the tight training schedule.

    Despite being based on a true story, this film manages to be very dull with very few worthwhile features. This film is very slow and a B-movie without having any of the good qualities that B-movies can often have. The plot is simple but that is no excuse for it not actually being fun: the idea of training followed by the mission is no barrier and has been done many times to good effect (think Dirty Dozen). The problem here is that the script manages to take this premise and do practically nothing with it. The total lack of characters is a major failing – contrast it with Dirty Dozen's rogues gallery and you'll see what I mean. It is practically impossible to tell the men apart (even after the film ends) simply because they have no character to speak of.

    This is mostly the scripts fault – most of the time the men just stare with heavy resolve and say dialogue that sounds clichéd and basic. Men have gruff faces and stare, men stare into the sea, men stare out of the submarine periscopes etc it's typical B-movie acting but usually it isn't as totally lacking in fun as it is here. Caan is the main reason I watched this film but he has nothing to work with here. Like I said, there is not even one role in the whole support cast that was memorable enough for me to remember them long enough to write this review!

    Overall this film is plodding and dull. It feels like the war movie made in the 1940's and is all the worse for being made in the late 60's. It is has enough value to act as a passable bit of mindless filler if you are looking for the film equivalent of background music but really it is a very poor film. Being based on a true story it is surprising how undramatic it is and it doesn't even manage to do what the rest of the 'training/mission' genre clichés do reasonably well. A very basic film with very little to enjoy and barely worth watching.
  • Remember, it's a B movie from 1968--before the days of computer graphics, Star Wars and the like. As such it's an entertaining ninety minute war movie. There's no sex, no nudity, no swearing. You can watch it with your kids.

    It's an old fashioned good guys triumph movie. What spoiled it a bit for me were some of the factual inaccuracies. In particular, the scuba equipment is 1968 issue, not WWII. The actors are using modern single stage compressed air scuba gear. Besides not being available in WWII, it would have been a dead give away. If anyone has seen the bubbles on the surface such gear causes, you'd know stealth is not the word you'd use.

    In WWII they used double hose, oxygen re-breathing apparatus. No air was released into the water so there were no air bubbles to give away the whereabouts of the diver. As well, in WWII, the divers used goggles rather than face masks.

    The second inaccuracy was the commander's hat. It was not a naval hat but a guards regimental hat with its visor coming down over the eyes of the wearer--the brim on a naval officer's hat was much narrower and higher enabling him to see out across the sea.

    In spite of this, I enjoyed it.
  • This war movie is loosely based on a real World War II mission, Operation Source , which was staged during September 1943 and being written by prestigious Edmund H. North . Operation Source involved a number of secret attacks on a number of German battleships, in northern Norway using X-class mini submarines . This film's 'Submarine X-1' title refers to the X class submarine which was a real World War II midget submarine class built for the Royal Navy during the 1943-44 period , the mini-subs were also known as X-Craft . After losing a submarine and fifty crew in a battle with a German ship during WWII, a Royal Navy officer , Lt. Commander Richard Bolton (James Caan received top first billing amongst a cast of characters who are predominantly English) , a Canadian , gets a second chance in a daring raid with midget subs . The film begins with Commander Bolton and a few surviving crew members of his 50-man submarine Gauntlet swimming ashore after unsuccessfully attacking German battleship Lindendorf . After a review, Captain Bolton is cleared of any wrong doing and placed in charge of a small group of experimental X class submarines . His own men (Nick Tate , Paul Young , Norman Bowler , William Dysart , among others) may prove a bigger obstacle than any of his stiff-upper-lip officers . His mission is to quickly train crews to man the submarines and sink the Lindendorf (the real life World War II German battleship was 'Tirpitz') while it is hidden away in a Norwegian Fiord . The submarines have been tracking the movement of the German ships . Two of the submarines are lost while attempting to cut through submarine nets at the entrance to the fjord . As Bolton is forced to make hasty preparations for his attack before their submarine base can be destroyed ..

    Submarine X-1 is a 1969 British World War II war film loosely based on the Operation Source attack on the German battleship Tirpitz in 1943 , it was also the subject of an earlier movie, Above Us the Waves (1955) by Ralph Thomas with John Mills . It's a fictionalized recounting of the Submarines X1 with a sustained and predictable story ,although partially based on true deeds . Lots of underwater scenes and stock WWII , especially when German paratroopers dropping from planes to earth . Passable acting by James Caan as a commander whose mission is put in charge of the submarines to quickly train crews and sink the Lindendorf while it is hidden away in a Norwegian Fiord . The film progresses with Commander Bolton training the crews of the three submarine , even though the crew lacks faith in his command abilities . He must overcome tensions with some of his former crew members , while keeping their activities hidden from outsiders and German airplanes . The highlights of the movie are the violent as well as exciting fights of the crews who successfully fend off an attack by German commandos, who discover their base . And thrilling scenes at the end when the surviving submarine penetrates the submarine nets in the fjord and places explosives under the German battleship . Atmospheric cinematography by Paul Beeson , Walt Disney's usual cameraman, though an alright remastering is necessary . Being filmed on location , shooting was filmed in Scotland . Good and enjoyable musical score by Ron Goodwin .

    The film was produced by Oakmont production , a company exclusively dedicated to warfare films (Hell boats , Mosquito Squadron , Thousand plane raid, Last escape) . The motion picture was middlingly realized by William A Graham who displays enough some spectacular underwater images to keep things interesting . Apparently, director William A. Graham worked on the film's original screen story with writer/producer John C. Champion but is uncredited for such . William A Graham directed various TV series and episodes as ¨The fugitive¨, ¨The Virginian¨, ¨Breaking point¨ and occasionally for cinema as ¨Return to the Blue Lagoon¨, ¨Waterhole¨ , ¨Guyana tragedy ¨ , ¨House of Garibaldi Street¨ and film-making several Westerns as ¨Montana¨ (90) ¨Billy the Kid¨ (89) , ¨Last days of Frank and Jesse James¨ (86) and ¨Harry Tracy , the last of the Wild Bunch¨.
  • Yes, I agree with the average 4/10 rating. This is another marginally watchable, below average mid-60s fare, worth your time only if you have absolutely nothing else to do with your time. Not horrible, but nothing remarkable either. Little in the way of character development, no memorable dialogue, and a plodding, straightforward plot (if you can call it that).

    If you make it all the way through, follow the crew's example, and break out the brandy; after that, you deserve one.
  • Routine and quite boring 1960s war film concentrating on the X-series of midget submarines. In this typical afternoon matinee movie James Caan appears as a totally miserable and humourless Canadian submarine commander. Presumably Caan appears to make the film saleable in North America. The underwater scenes and onshore action don't add up to much but the occasional glimpses of scenery around the Scottish lochs makes marginally for some of the tedium. The shoot out with German paratroopers has some tension and excitement. Overall, one for rainy, cold, wintery Sunday afternoons. 3/10.
  • A fictional story based on actual events. Intriguing as an american is portrayed in the armed service of the UK. Another such situation was in the movie 633 Squadron with Cliff Robertson. Overall a good movie.
  • "Submarine X-1" is just another of several WWII films that rolled out of Oakmont Productions in the late 1960s. Like "Attack on the Iron Coast" and "Mosquito Squadron", this flick lacks innovation, flair and plays like an extended episode of "Black Sheep Squadron". Movies like this were never meant for the big screen. Director Graham had worked almost solely on made-for-TV films up until this point, and it's no surprise that he went back to that medium. His attempt at making a war film is a big disaster.

    The rather boring script is written by John C. Champion, who takes the X raid on the German pocket battleship Tirpitz and turns it into what should be a rousing tale of heroism and courage. It's not. Surprised? Lt. Cmdr. Bolton (James Caan, "A Bridge too Far") loses his submarine in the North Atlantic and his men blame him for the ship's destruction and death of 50 crewmen. Well, he's cleared of guilt and re-assigned to train crews of experimental midget submarines - and, what a shock - some of his distrusting former crewmembers wind up in the squad he's too train! I don't know where to start with a film like this. It's not particularly bad. It's just... well... not good. The sets, including some marvelous Scottish scenery and great submarine interiors, look beautiful and Ron Goodwin's music score is rousing as usual, these are the only good things about this movie. James Caan is a great actor; watch "The Godfather" series and try to say he's a poor actor. It's not that he can't act in this movie. He's never given an opportunity to act! He just mumbles occasional, witless dialogue and gives everyone around him strange facial expressions. The supporting cast don't make much of an impact, either. Everyone simply goes through their paces, carries out the mission and in 90 minutes, we've learned nothing about them and can't care less when some of them get killed. Interestingly enough, most of the supporting cast is comprised of English television-actors, which just adds to the "made-for-TV" look and feel of this film.

    It's also important to note that everything about this movie is a pure cliché.. Bolton's character and those around him are built around our expectations based on other war films like "The Devil's Brigade". Bolton is simply a stereotype, and not even a two-dimensional one at that. The German characters range from stupid to stupider, from the parachutists that attack the secret submarine base and talk with terrible accents, to the Navy officers who question prisoners and yell a lot but never appear particularly menacing. They waste their time with interrogations about a surviving submarine, rather than doing something practical – such as sending one of dozens of E-Boats out to search for the sneaky enemy vessel! This film couldn't get anymore clichéd if it tried; all it lacks is a sappy love interest. Interestingly enough, there is one blond bombshell – but she only gets once scene and then is forgotten rather abruptly. The nuts and bolts of a good film are all present, but never developed.

    The special effects are pretty poor, as is the case with every other Oakmont Production to emerge in its understandably short existence. The underwater photography is fantastic, but every time Graham takes his camera above the water, viewers are treated to shots of obvious toy ships being blown to pieces. The miniatures look like they came out of a Japanese monster movie – not a war movie! The camera-work in the talky scenes is unoriginal and flat and the film just looks boring.

    When watching a movie like this, one has to take into account the time period in which it was made. "Submarine X-1" and every other film of its kind belonged on the small screen or, better yet, on the big screen as propaganda films during 1943 or 1944. As a late-60s "action" piece, this one ultimately fails despite some obviously good intentions.
  • Kobalt4411 April 2007
    This film is supposed to be a fictionalised account of the ultimately unsuccessful British underwater raid on that mighty German battleship, the Tirpitz. All I can say on it is the acting is absurdly staged, the script is about as hackneyed and unbelievable as they get, and the characterisation is terribly shallow and stereotypical; as well it is wildly historically inaccurate even allowing for the inevitable artistic licence taken in making films on historical subjects.

    All in all, it is hard to believe that this flick was made in the late 60s (1968) and I agree with another contributor here that it seems to be the sort of film that they made twenty-five years earlier, i.e. actually during the war. Some twenty-three years after the end of the Second World War, Submarine X-1 is still ludicrously and woodenly propagandist. Even the action is unbelievable with German paratrooper raids on the naval base etc.

    I realise that it is only a war movie, doubtlessly made for a young male viewing audience, and it is silly to take such films seriously, and I don't; however, Submarine X-1 even as a time-killer for boys on rainy weekend afternoons is 'orrible.

    Fortunately for the viewing public, James Caan, who is a really excellent actor, went on to much bigger and better things straight after Submarine X-1. Who could ever forget his stellar, though uncredited, performances in 1969 as Rupert of Rathskeller in the "To Sire With Love" episodes of Get Smart? Brilliant! And from there on his career really forged ahead.
  • Loose 60's adaptation of the X-craft raid on the German pocket battleship Tirpitz. The true story is quite a bit more thrilling than the movie. A New Yorker, playing a Canadian, leading Britons on a secret raid against the Germans. Take it for what it's worth and watch it late at night with a beer and some Orville Reddenbacher.
  • Remember how the Stones and the Who and the Kinks were all rebelling against the establishment in England around 1968? Apparently, the establishment was busy making movies like "Submarine X-1." This movie was a major step backward for cinema, bereft of innovation and dynamic action. I Tivo'd this movie because the description "a Canadian commander trains midget submarine crews" made it sound like there were little people in little subs. Alas, there are normal sized people only. And Jimmy Caan.

    Caan plays the Canadian, which is only slightly easier to believe than if he were playing an Englishman. He's rugged and manly and wears great knitwear while he looks harshly at people, sailors, who then take offense at his harsh Canadianness. Caan looks harshly into the distance and, as his men train at cutting fences underwater, he looks harshly at the sea. THIS IS THE ENTIRE MOVIE. A whole lot of underwater fence cutting, harsh looks, sweaters and the aforementioned midget submarines. Thank god for the ill-conceived Nazi commando attack on the secret base which reminds the viewer that there ARE stakes, there IS a war and it's with the NAZIS, so everything better go as planned or else V-E Day might not happen until May 9th or 10th.

    Aside from the submarine interiors tilting for realism, there's very little that's progressive about the movie's construction. The camera is just kinda there in the room, not doing anything remarkable. The pace is monotonous, the sets are stagy and the performances are mannered, except for the harsh staring, of course. William Graham did a lot of television both before and after "Submarine X-1," so it would be easy to write off the clumsy filmmaking at the hands of a TV director. But Richard Lester, Ken Loach and John Frankenheimer came up as TV directors and were busy inventing and pushing cinema forward in 1968.

    Keep in mind that the rest of the world has been watching movies influenced by the French New Wave. In 1968 Hollywood made "Bonnie and Clyde," "Rosemary's Baby" and "2001: A Space Odyssey." In other words, there was a new filmmaking realism established by then that "X-1" refused to acknowledge. At a glance, someone could mistake this movie as being made twenty five years earlier. No wonder Pete, Mick, Ray and even Ringo were such angry young men.
  • This movie is another one not to bother with. I prefer my historical movies as accurate as possible as reality is usually more dramatic and entertaining than hokeyness. There was an X-craft squadron, they did train rigorously for a raid against the Tirpitz (the movie calls it the Lindendorff-why fictionalize it?), they almost succeeded, the did penetrate the Tirpitz's defenses, damaged it badly enough that it could never sail at full speed again. Why not pay tribute to these brave men who fought for our freedom by telling their story straight? And the special effects are cheesy-the ships look like the models I built as a kid in the 1960s.
  • James Caan plays a marine captain, who just lost his submarine and crew of fifty men during WW2. He is assigned to supervise a training mission in Scotland for a new type of submarine, to be used against the Germans.

    I can't say that SUBMARINE X-1 is entirely un-watchable: it has a good pace and isn't too long either. But who wrote this "story" and why is James Caan in it? I just can't believe why they make such films, without a point and without a story. There isn't a person in this film with a decent line. It's not only enough that there isn't much of a story(training, training and a brief encounter with the Germans), the film is also filled with silly dialogue and stupidity all along. A total waste of time! 4/10
  • I just saw this movie, which was interesting as I saw a documentary on the same thing earlier this year. Just to correct the previous viewer the shoulder flashes on the Commander (James Caan) show "Canada", so I assume he was an Canadian not an American. I did not hear any explanation why a Canadian was in charge during the movie, as often happens. The British did not let colonials command that much, so it would have been interesting to see why, but it most likely they used a Canadian because James Caan is an American actor and the accent is similar, and it is more likely an Canadian would be involved rather than an actual American Navel person. So they just put Canada flashes on his should and all it good.

    The movie itself was kind of methodical, and the special effects so-so, but overall, I found it interesting anyway being interested in this kind of fiction based on fact WWII movies.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    For some reason i.e. a patronizing view that US cinema audiences would never watch a film unless it had an American star in it, several British film studios in the 50's and 60's billed American actors in the leading role of what were essentially British War Movies. These include such as 'Bridge on the River Kwai' -William Holden ', 'Sailor of the King' -Jeff Hunter '633 Squadron' – Cliff Robertson, 'Cockle shell heroes'- Jose Ferrer, The Great Escape' -McQueen, Bronson, Coburn etc. all top Billed. Most Played Canadians. Submarine X-1 does the same.

    It is essentially a navalised version of '633 Squadron'. The parallel is startling. A Canadian Officer leads a diverse group of heroes on a suicide mission, to Norway in both cases, to destroy a strategic target. This entails hazardous and relentless training in Northern Scotland with the new weapons, against a increasingly tighter deadline and unsympathetic top brass.

    The Germans do their best to stop the mission by sending respectively air raids and a commando raid to the bases concerned. The missions go ahead nevertheless with the unit adjutant getting to go on the mission at the last moment when a trained member drops out. After many tense (?)setbacks the mission is competed but only with the destruction of majority of the attacking force.

    Both films suffered from very poor special effects but at least 633 had footage of real Mosquito's possibly its only redeeming feature. Submarine X-1 does not have this. There is no humour or even a romantic interlude and very little tension. As stated elsewhere what tension there is, was contrived i.e. the mutinous attitude of some of the men which not developed and in the minefield sequence. It is ironic that production values were good enough to provide a realistic sub interior and authentic German Paratrooper uniforms and weaponry. Stock footage was of the correct type of aircraft, even if they would have never been able to reach their supposed targets. So I think the potential was there to make a half decent film but no one bothered.

    The commando raid scene was confused and filmed too dark The final mission with frogmen hopping in and out of subs like they were buses was incoherent.

    The Previous film depicting this true mission ' Above us the waves' with John Mills is far better.
  • I agree this is a poorly made movie with practically no plot or decent storyline. However I haven't seen many other movies with so many muscular young men in black rubber suits (darn it!) I have looked long and hard, though! If I could find a movie with as many helmets as rubber suits, I would be in my element.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    SUBMARINE X-1 is a very old fashioned WW2 thriller that was somewhat surprisingly made in 1968. Remember this was the era of free love and all-star cast adventures in the DIRTY DOZEN and WHERE EAGLES DARE mould, films that haven't really dated when watched even today. Not so SUBMARINE X-1, which looks and feels like a B-movie from the early 1950s, a comparison not helped by the dodgy use of black and white stock footage.

    The real problem with this one, though, is the story, which is exceptionally dull. A young James Caan plays the Canadian commander of a British submarine crew tasked with raiding the Nazis in Norway. The film has no real understanding of the distances between Britain and Norway and sees the characters zipping back and forth as if it's just across the Channel.

    It's one of those movies, like THUNDERBALL, let down by endless murky underwater footage, which simply isn't very interesting, and a general clichéd air which robs it of vitality. The supporting cast seem disinterested as does the director, who couldn't make this would-be thriller any less exciting if he tried.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Bad comic book war film. James Caan is supposed to be in the British (?) Navy and is a high ranking Officer at that (LOL!). The movie opens up with 4 or 5 sailors coming out of nowhere in the water all washing to shore at the same time(?). There is no lifeboat of life preservers to be seen and they all pop up out of the waves together (!). So the story is that Caan got his submarine sunk and 50 of the crew is killed, and the rest hate Caan for the mess he got them in. Then Caan is promoted (?!) and he gets the old survivors back to train them to be in midget subs. They take on the Nazi's and win the war no doubt single handed. I sped it up to a random point where I thought they'd be ready for their attack and jumped into a scene where they are piloting 3 midget subs into a minefield. The genius of Caan decides to go through the mines at the same depth of the war heads not thinking to dive deeper, also he assumes they are all contact mines and not magnetic mines, then the subs all bounce against the mines and none go off, then Caan has to get out of the sub underwater and untangle a mine stuck to his sub. I mean it's bad folks, really bad. No really I stopped watching the movie it's terrible and why James Caan was picked in a British navy war movie is anyone's guess. Maybe in 1968 it flew as plausible but I cannot comprehend the British giving a Canadian his own sub like that, I mean Canada had a Navy too (I thought). I just can't see British sailors taking orders from a guy who talks like he's from the Jersey Shore (New Jersey that is). After we have seen Caan as nothing else but an Italian American tough guy for over 40 years the only thing that may interest you is to watch this as a spoof, ala MST3K. Hey I love comic book war films and this was made by the same company that did Mosquito Squadron 633, but this is pitiful, no wonder Hulu had it to show, no one else would dare, only a free web site could. 4 of 10, it is in color so it has that going for it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This clunky film was made for-cheap by a newcomer into the feature film business. The dialogue is wooden and the conflict/resolution for our main character can be seen from many leagues away. James Caan is a Sub captain that just made a disastrous decision that sunk the ship and killed 50 crewmembers. Great emphasis is placed on his crewmates that now hold a very large grudge thank you very much against this Canadian commander. When Caan is not demoted, instead given command of another submarine along with a secret mission, his former crewmates become even more bitter, having been assigned to his command again. Yes again. Then even worse, Commander Caan pushes one of the men too far to the point that he nearly dies. Grrrrrr! That makes those bitter men even more bitter!

    Somewhere in this story the lessons of leadership were to provide redemption, such as in the excellent film "Twelve O'Clock High". Once the weak soldier works extra hard (in a painfully bad montage), the other bitter soldiers realize that the Canadian did the right thing. There are moments of what feels like professional moviemaking, only to falter and not have much follow through. Too much time is spent on this discontent over our hero, and too little time on the actual mission. This is partly because the film obviously had too little of a budget to film any large scenes. Most notable is the use of very bad scratchy stock film of paratroopers being inserted as part of an action scene. Competent filmmaking would excise that distractingly bad footage and edit around it.

    Most of the effects budget went into the underwater scenes, which actually look pretty good. The sad truth is that in real life, the mission, to secretly blowup German ships while docked, wasn't successful. Here the film spends too little time showing the mini sub accomplishing its mission because they didn't have the proper budget to show a German ship blowing up (instead showing the view from about 15 miles away). This last minute climax serves too little too late to feel satisfying. I thought about the film "The Dambusters" as an example of a far more entertaining film showing another secret mission that actually was successful.

    One thing of note was the musical score. For such a low budget affair, I found the soundtrack trying it's best to elevate the material. As for our hunk James Caan, there is too little for him to go on with his flimsy character. There are some stiff scenes where he casts some doubt on himself. But there is little follow-through. And oh yes, those bitter colleagues decide their commander has got the right stuff by the end.

    I give it 3 out of 10, bad enough to be an episode of MST 3K.