Top 10 Submarine Movies – How Many Have You Actually Seen?

Some of the best thriller movies are the ones that have submersible vessels as the central theme of their plotlines. Also, since submersibles are majorly used as naval vessels, such submarine movies veer mostly towards war-time drama or fictional recounting of two opposing countries facing off against each other.

Many such movies have been created and appreciated by the global audience. Each movie is a stand-alone and represents the best directorial and acting talent available in Hollywood.

submarine movies
submarine movies – representation image

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Ten all-time best submarine movies, of the many varied, can be shortlisted as follows:

1. Crimson Tide

Starring Denzel Washington and Gene Hackman, this movie deals with military commandments and insubordination in the line of fire.

The movie was a roaring hit, with both actors gaining even more recognition for their already stellar career path.


Crimson Tide
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Gene Hackman, Denzel Washington (Actors)
  • Tony Scott (Director) - Michael Schiffer (Writer) - Don Simpson (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

2. U-571

U-571 gives a cinematic narration of the seizing of the fabled German cypher device ‘Enigma’ by American naval forces.

The movie depiction was fictional and contradicted the actual seizing of the device carried out by a British naval vessel. U-571 faced several criticisms for this fictional deviation.


  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, David Keith (Actors)
  • Jonathan Mostow (Director) - Jonathan Mostow (Writer) - Dino Delaurentiis (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

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3. Das Boot

A German film, Das Boot (The Boat) charts the life of naval personnel confined within the U-boat U-96 during World War II. Based upon a fictitious novel of the same name, the plotline presented a different perspective about the German naval forces.

This added further substance to the movie and made it an even bigger hit. The movie was directed by well-known director Wolfgang Petersen and was released in the year 1981.


Das Boot
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Jürgen Prochnow, Herbert Gronemeyer, Klaus Wennemann (Actors)
  • Wolfgang Petersen (Director) - Wolfgang Petersen (Writer) - Gunter Rohrbach (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

4. The Hunt for Red October

At the peak of the Cold War between American and the Soviet Union, this movie was another example of brilliant American movie-making.

The plot deals with an insensible, submersible vessel that can hamper the fragile peace between the two nations and the hunt to capture and destroy it. The movie is regarded to be one of the best Hollywood movies to have ever been made.


The Hunt for Red October
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn (Actors)
  • John McTiernan (Director) - Robert Garland (Writer) - Mace Neufeld (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

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5. Torpedo Run

A slightly different take on the Second World War, this movie’s plot outlines a submarine’s commanding officer’s determination to destroy a Japanese aircraft carrier ship.

The movie was released in the year 1958 and held an Oscar nomination to its credit.


Torpedo Run
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Glenn Ford, Ernest Borgnine, Diane Brewster (Actors)
  • Joseph Pevney (Director) - William Haines (Writer) - Edmund Grainger (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

6. The Abyss

The Abyss is a horror-cum-drama movie created by James Cameron.

The talented director once again proves his directorial abilities as he seamlessly integrates paranormal influences into the workings of the American naval and submarine forces.


The Abyss (Special Edition)
  • English, Spanish (Subtitles)
  • Audience Rating: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)

7. Run Silent, Run Deep

A loose adaptation of the book of the same name, this 1958-movie depicts a fictional chapter of the American-Japanese conflict during the Second World War.

The movie underlines various aspects expected of a military person and the central character’s commitment towards achieving them, even in the face of death.


Run Silent, Run Deep
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, Jack Warden (Actors)
  • Robert Wise (Director) - John Gay (Writer) - Harold Hecht (Producer)
  • (Playback Language)
  • Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)

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8. Ice Station Zebra

Ice Station Zebra’s plot deals with spies and double-crossing and uniquely presents a tale of unified American and Soviet armed forces.

The movie was released in 1968 and is regarded to be loosely influenced by popular British author Alastair Maclean’s book bearing the same name. The author was also one of the screenplay writers for the movie.


Ice Station Zebra
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Rock Hudson, Ernest Borgnine, Patrick McGoohan (Actors)
  • John Sturges (Director) - Julian Fink (Writer) - Martin Ransohoff (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

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9. The Enemy Below

The Enemy Below outlines two navy men’s conquest to out-manoeuvre each other.

Although the movie is based on a novel of the same name, there have been several modifications to it.


The Enemy Below
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Robert Mitchum, Curd Jürgens, David Hedison (Actors)
  • Powell,Dick (Director) - Wendell Mayes (Writer) - Dick Powell (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

10. The Bedford Incident

This movie relays the fictional account of a US warship, the USS Bedford.

The plotline involves the stance taken by the commanding officer of the Bedford against an incoming Soviet submersible and his relation with his subordinate officers. The movie was released in the year 1965 and was influenced by many real-time naval incidents.


The Bedford Incident
  • Amazon Prime Video (Video on Demand)
  • Richard Widmark, Sidney Poitier, James MacArthur (Actors)
  • Harris,James B. (Director) - Mark Rascovich (Writer) - James Harris (Producer)
  • English (Playback Language)
  • English (Subtitle)

Over to you..

Do you know any other submarine movie that can be added to this list?

Let’s know in the comments below.

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Image Credits: amazon

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About Author

Shilavadra Bhattacharjee is a shipbroker with a background in commercial operations after having sailed onboard as a Third Officer. His interests primarily lie in the energy sector, books and travelling.

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  1. “U-571: U-571 gives a cinematic narration of the seizing of the fabled German cipher device ‘Enigma’ by American naval forces.”

    There is no accuracy to this movie whatsoever of course.
    By this point in the war Britain already had a number of enigma machines, and the Royal Navy (not American naval forces) and fought, boarded and captured enigma machines and vital code-books from a number of U-boats.

    Therefore, your phrase “… gives a cinematic narration of…” is meaningless. There was no truth behind the incident to give any cinematic narration to.

  2. This is a great list to watch.
    I have definitely not watched em all.
    Thanks for the list.

  3. Crimson Tide as number one; are you kidding??? This is probably one of the least believable submarine movies out there. Das Boot, Hunt for Red October, Run Silent Run Deep all much better movies. I put Crimson Tide about number 300.out of the 700+- submarine films out there. (259 of which I have in my collection)

  4. U571 is cheesy and very unrealistic, I consider this movie really terrible. Das Boot, however, is a masterpiece, aserious and convincing production. Film made by adults for adults.

  5. The Abyss is a submersible not a submarine.
    The Bedford Incident and Ice Station Zebra are movies with subs but not really submarine movies.
    And U-571 makes the bottom 5 of this list if at all. #2, really! Ahead of Das Boot and The Hunt for Red October. Seriously!

  6. Like many have said, some of these choices weren’t really submarine movies. Some not mentioned, Operation Petticoat..a comedy but definitely a sub movie, Destination Tokyo comes to mind. I still watch Das Boot, The Enemy Below, and Run Silent Run Deep (the last 2 are on youtube for free). There are lots of others I’ve seen in my 67 years but they have faded from memory. There are many ww2 subs on display around the US so if you like sub movies go inside one. It will open your eyes. I’ve been in the USS Drum in Mobile Alabama. Well worth a visit.

  7. Cary Grant did a great job in his role and the movie itself is well-written and engaging. It’s a great watch for anyone interested in submarine movies or World War II era films.

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