“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » Culture and Criticism

Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame: The Hunt For Red October

Submitted by on May 2, 2014 – 9:34 AM28 Comments


Welcome back to the pleasant and relaxed Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame, friends! Today’s nominee is brought to us by reader Craig: The Hunt For Red October.

Because I’ve never seen the movie — I know! I know, I’m sorry! But this is why we Nation-source things, people! — I don’t want to rule on it myself, so I’ll let Craig make his case. We’ll discuss it for a few days. If the commentariat is on board, it’ll go in.

One other administrative note before I give Craig the floor here: I’ve added a category. It’s called “forget you, melon farmer,” and while I don’t think it’s required, it’s definitely indicative — because it means that you own the PFM in question, but will still allow it to captivate you when it’s chopped up with commercials and bowdlerized with basic-cable-safe “curse” words.

All right, C-Town. Hit it.

I posted this on the comments on the original post (and I love this idea) but I wanted to follow the rules and email it to you directly.

  • lengthy? Yep, 2 hours, 14 minutes.
  • familiar/frequent? A staple of basic cable in the 1990s.
  • classic/award-winner? Hey, it actually did win an Oscar for best Sound Editing.
  • “Greetings, Professor Falken” (big payoff/long-shot victory a la WarGames)? “Combat tactics, Mr. Ryan…”
  • “Wanna have a catch?” (Pavlovian tear-jerk)? Okay, not a lot here, but the quiet scene at the end where Ryan welcomes Ramius to the New World is a wonderful coda.
  • quote-fest? I use at least 15 quotes from this movie a month, easy.
  • caper-ish or -adjacent camaraderie? Well, they are trying to steal a nuclear submarine when you come right down to it.

Great, top-flight cast (Baldwin, the best Jack Ryan; Sean Connery; Sean Connery’s expensive hairpiece; Scott Glenn, Sam Neill, James Earl Jones) and great character actors (Fred Dalton Thompson as the Admiral, for one).

I know my partner in crime G may have made similar arguments, but I thank you for your time. Also, Diner, fantastic choice.

Thanks, Craig. Again, I haven’t seen the movie (though I can attest that it was on cable connnnnstantly 10-15 years ago), but looking at the IMDb entry for it, I note an impressive roster of Hey, It’s That Guy!s, which is generally a good sign (Skarsgard Sr. is in at least two of my PFMs).

On the black-letter criteria, this looks like a solid 5 or 6 — possibly a 6 or 7 if Craig owns the movie.

Readers: Talk to us. Is TH4RO a PFM? Why/not?

Craig: Congrats, you’re the proud owner of a shirt from the TN store; thanks so much for submitting.

Update, 5/6/14, 10 PM: I think we have a quorum; it’s in there.

The Poppy-Fields Movie Couch Of Fame is here. To nominate your own PFM, email bunting at tomatonation dot com with a rundown of the criteria and your argument for why it deserves a cushion. If I use your entry, free loot shall be thine.




  • attica says:

    I say yes! If I can’t reference a Crazy Ivan at least once a week, I must be sleeping.

    And I’m always disappointed if I’ve missed the moment when Peter Firth activates the Universal Translator on the word “Armageddon.”

  • Bill D. says:

    Absolutely. I will stop on this no matter what. In fact, I consider all three of McTiernan’s Holy Trinity (Predator, Die Hard, and this) to be perfect Poppy-Field movies.

  • met fan ellie says:

    My house completely agrees with HFRO. Young yummy Baldwin in the shower with his impression of Fred Thompson then the mocking Connery impression-classic. Tim Curry as a gullible good guy, all good stuff. Plus whenever we died playing Risk we would quote “I would have liked to have seen Montana.”

    And agreed on the universal translator.

  • Before SNL, this was the first proof Baldwin could do impressions (of Fred Dalton Thompson *and* Sean Connery). It’s a little too slick at times for my taste, but it is entertaining, and doesn’t get bogged down in jargon as much as the novel does. Plus, Richard Jordan as the White House staffer is a riot (“Listen, I’m a politician which means I’m a cheat and a liar, and when I’m not kissing babies, I’m stealing their lollipops”).

  • Otter says:

    “One ping, one ping only, Vasily.” is the quote most often heard in our family.

    Complete agreement on Baldwin being the best Jack Ryan.

    Definitely a PFM!

  • scurry says:

    ABSOLUTELY!! I own this movie and have yet to get enough. This is a frequently referenced/quoted movie in my house. Tim Curry is always the sign of a classic. “…And I was never here.” – Bless you, James Earl Jones.

  • Cora says:

    Yes, a thousand times yes. First, it’s still on cable — it’s been on twice in the past two weeks (and guess who watched it both times….) I’d argue that the payoff is when Alec Baldwin says “It’s the damn cook!” and then blows away the smirk off the damn cook’s face.

    Maybe there could be a category for cast members. I mean, Jeffrey Jones as the somewhat disabled submarine geek! Courtney B. Vance as the dude with supersonic ears! That guy that everybody at first thinks is Kevin Costner but isn’t as the Dallas captain (“Come on Big D, flyyyyyyy”)! Dr. FRANKENFURTER as the prissy asshole political officer!!

    Sure, there’s camaraderie: Alec Baldwin tries to smoke and the Soviet officers giggle at him turning green. Officers on the Dallas poke fun at Courtney B Vance for blasting “Pavarotti” (‘Paganini!”) into the sea.

    Finally, does anyone else get turned on when Alec Baldwin is hunting the damn cook and rolls off the platform to swing for a few minutes? MMMMMMMMMM. Sinuous.

  • Sue says:

    Absolutely! I am in the “Forget you, melon farmer!” camp because I own it (poss. both DVD and VCR) but will stop to watch it regardless. Endlessly quotable and entertaining from the dry humor to the smirky comments.

  • Lis says:

    I say yes as well, though this is one of those movies that I’ve never seen all the way through but have seen all the bits and pieces a million times. I’ve also spent a lot of time confusing parts of this with parts of Crimson Tide, to the point where my husband and I just refer to them both as “The Hunt for Crimson October” and never really explain which one we mean. They’re the same in my head.

  • RJ says:

    Lis, me too! I will have to start calling them The Hunt for Crimson October – love that. Red October definitely fits the category, but I gotta give some love to Denzel shouting “I do NOT concur!”

  • Bev says:

    Yes, absolutely. For all the above reasons. and, when it is on tv, i somehow always sit down and watch it, as if i am mesmerized.

  • Tempest says:

    OH YES!
    I love this movie. I dislike Alec Baldwin in plenty of other things, but he IS the best Jack Ryan. And the quotes; well, other folks have already listed many of them, but now that I think about it, I can’t believe how often I quote this movie.
    “The hard part about playing chicken is knowin’ when to flinch.”
    “Russians don’t take a dump, son, without a plan.”

    Years ago in when I taught 6th grade, my most rambunctious kid had the job of quieting the room when it was time to move on to the next task (if he calmed down, then all others did too). I would turn to him and say, “Give me a ping, Vasily. One ping only, please.” He would PING loudly, and it was the signal for all chatter to cease and turn attention to the board. Good times…

  • Sarah D. Bunting says:

    @Tempest, you sound like the raddest 6th-grade teacher ever. I’m-a give Ms. Moser a pass because the movie didn’t exist yet but any movie quotes would have upped her awesomeness by several factors.

  • Rebecca says:

    Yes to PFM status! I watched it yesterday and was sucked in right from the beginning. Scott Glenn does a fantastic sub captain, Alec Baldwin reminded me he was once kind of foxy, and Sean Connery still manages to make everything sound like he’s speaking it in a Scottish accent.

  • Kat From Jersey says:

    Definitely! Sam Neill’s death scene for the win.

  • Josh says:

    I’d vote yay on this one as well. Very strong cast, terrific plot all kinds of tropes that just suck you in.

    Scott Glenn is my personal favorite in this one, but it’s loaded with great supporting roles.

    I think it hits all of them except “wanna have a catch”; I’ll fill in the classic/award-winner by noting that it spawned a VERY successful franchise, but is still seen as the best film of the five. (which it is, all due respect to Harrison Ford)

  • Margaret says:

    Oh, definitely! The Hey, it’s that guy-quotient is massive. I’ve seen the movie probably hundreds of times, and I’m always “oh I forgot Tim Curry/Courtney Vance/Sam Neill was in this!” It’s also *extremely* useful when playing the Kevin Bacon game (Alec Baldwin has a Bacon of 1).

  • Molly says:

    Oh yeah. I can watch this movie over and over and over.

    But what do you mean there’s no tear-jerk moment?! “I would like to have seen Montana,” has me crying every time. Possibly because this is the movie that started my crush on Sam Neill, though.

  • nsfinch says:

    Let me put it this way: my ex-husband used to say “I always wanted to see Montana” at least once a week, and I haven’t soured on this movie–or that phrase–even one little bit. Absolutely, this is a PFM.

  • Tracey says:

    Cora, Dr. Frankenfurter plays the doctor, not the political officer. The political officer is the one who gets offed by Ramius at the beginning.

    I saw this in the theater when it came out (yes, I’m old), and was practically the only woman in the room. There may have been five of us there scattered in the sea of males. Then, the next day at the office, I realized I was humming a tune and then realized what I was humming was the National Anthem of the Soviet Union. I was an Air Force officer at the time, so…yeah. Probably not the right song to be busting out with at work.

    Dr. Pelt, the National Security Advisor with the bowl of jelly beans on his desk, was hilarious. “Andrei…you’ve lost another submarine?”

  • Rlnpirate says:

    I vote yes, yes, yes.
    Love this movie. Watch it whenever I see it. My favorite part is when the sub captain snaps his fingers for the officer of the deck with the sidearm and the guy jumps to his side.

    and the singing of the sub crew. Also just watching them blow that ballast makes my ears pop.

  • fmlw says:

    Definitely a PFM!

    Yes to the Sub crew singing and absolutely to “I would like to have seen Montana”

    Own it and watch it every single time it’s on.

  • DensityDuck says:

    RJ+Lis: I remember seeing a three-pack in Suncoast Video of HFRO, Crimson Tide, and Das Boot, so you aren’t the only ones to think that these movies should just be together.


    “Combat tactics, Mr. Ryan…”

    Naah, you gotta count the moment where Ramius takes over control while piloting by stopwatch-and-a-map, and the Male Russian Chorus lets him know when it’s time to turn so he can dodge the torpedo.

  • DensityDuck says:

    Also, Fred Thompson is so totally Hey It’s That Guy. I swore up and down that it was actually Joe Don Baker, to the point where my date forced me to sit through the credits so she could convince me that it wasn’t.

  • scout1222 says:

    @Tracey, this movie is why I know the Russian national anthem! I also own this movie and can quote so much of it. I LOVE IT.

    “Some things in here don’t react well to bullets. YEAH, LIKE ME!”

  • Adrian says:

    In my family, we actually call this category of movies “Hunt for Red October” movies because of the way my dad got trapped by it every time it crossed his screen.

  • Katherine says:

    I will now be quoting HFRO for the next month. Own it & watch it. And smiled reading all the comments! Next time, Jack, write a goddamn memo!

  • Cat_slave says:

    What I remember most about Hunt for Red October is actually a MAD parody, in which Tim Curry insists on seeing the script all the time. When somebody asks why, he explains that he once took a role without checking the script and “I ended up looking like this!” (and shows a Picture of Frank N. Further) :-D

    The Rocky Horror Picture Show is my poppy-field, btw.

Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>