Trivia / The Hunt for Red October

The novel:

  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Tom Clancy really struggled to get the book published, dealing with massive publisher disinterest. He finally tried taking it to the Naval Institute Press, for whom he had previously written a number of nonfiction articles, and they agreed to print it as their first-ever foray into fiction. The novel turned into a surprise bestseller after President Ronald Reagan read it and spoke in favor of it.

The film:

  • Actor Allusion: Gates McFadden playing a doctor with a husband named Jack.
  • All-Star Cast: What else do you call this combination? Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Sam Neill, Tim Curry, Stellan Skarsgård, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn, even Gates McFadden (briefly) ...
  • Backed by the Pentagon: The scenes on the flight deck were shot on the actual Enterprise. Scott Glenn (Mancuso) also spent a month aboard USS Salt Lake City where he was treated as though he was the commanding officer. According to director John McTiernan he came back completely different, very soft-spoken and calm, with a manner he described as being similar to a college president. The Navy was fully onboard for the movie because they were hoping The Hunt for Red October would do for the submarine service what Top Gun had done for Naval aviation. In a way it worked, the crew of the real USS Dallas adopted the films tagline, "The Hunt is On" as the boats unofficial motto.
  • Blooper: The movie is set in late 1984, and there are a couple of goofs in the setting:
    • The USS Reuben James (FFG-57) wasn't commissioned until 1986.
    • In the scene introducing Jack Ryan, he is preparing for a trip to the United States. At one point, he puts a copy of the United States Naval Institute Proceedings into his briefcase. The issue in question was a special issue focusing on submarines and anti-submarine warfare, making it a good fit for the movie—except for the minor little detail that it was the October 1987 issue...
  • The Cast Showoff: Alec Baldwin loves doing impressions, something he'd do more of in 30 Rock.
  • Fake Russian: It's a Hollywood flick, so it's a given that many of the major Russian characters were played by non-Slavic actors. The most obvious is Sean Connery as Lithuanian-born Captian Ramius, who doesn't even try to alter his Scottish accent. Averted, though, with most of the Soviet extras since most had obviously Slavic features.
  • The Other Marty: Klaus Maria Brandauer was originally cast as Ramius, but two weeks into filming he had to quit because of a serious injury (he broke both his legs in a car accident). He recommended Sean Connery, with whom he starred in Never Say Never Again, to take over the role.
  • Prop Recycling: The teddy bear Jack Ryan gets his daughter at the end is the same teddy bear John McClane was bringing for his kids at the beginning of Die Hard, also directed by John McTiernan.
  • Shout-Out: the USS Reuben James was featured prominently in the follow-up novel Red Storm Rising.
  • Star-Making Role: For Alec Baldwin.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Kevin Costner turned down the role of Jack Ryan. Harrison Ford had also turned down the role, because he felt the script focused more on Ramius than Ryan, but he would take the role for the sequels Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger.
    • Acclaimed Austrian actor Klaus Maria Brandauer was originally cast as Marko Ramius, and participated in the production process to the point of getting costumes fitted and attending several rehearsals. And then he was in a car accident and broke both of his legs. It was at Brandauer's suggestion that Sean Connery was cast to replace him. Had Brandauer been able to finish the film, it would have had a very, very different feel to it than the actual finished product.
  • Kamarov boasts about being able to fly a plane with no windows in the Alps if he has a stopwatch and a compass. This is actually a real navigational method known as Dead Reckoning. If you know how fast you are going, what direction you are traveling in, and how far you need to go to get to a particular point, you can indeed use a compass and a stopwatch to reliably get there, barring unobserved changes in weather. You wouldn't normally use it to navigate through a canyon though. Submarines, for obvious reasons, use this technique far more often than airplane pilots, as submarines lack windows to see outside with.