Clancy’s inspiration for the Red October music/singing

I’ve no idea how the subject came up a few days ago when I was talking with my son. But suddenly he was telling me what Tom Clancy had told him a few years ago*: In the movie The Hunt for Red October (1990), the idea to have the Russian submariners sing was heavily influenced by Tom’s memory of the Panzer song in Battle of the Bulge (1965). While my son remembered the Red October theme and burst into a made-up English rendition, I immediately recalled the scene in Battle of the Bulge where the German tank commander was driving uphill into flames while the Panzer song swelled in the background. Apparently Tom found it as memorable as I did. Having found clips from both movies, however, I’d have to say I think Battle of the Bulge did it better.

(The last video is the highlight here, if you aren’t in the mood for all three.)

From The Hunt for Red October (with apologies for ads I can’t control):

Hmm, I sure don’t remember the inside of that sub being so shiny …

The scene I remembered from Battle of the Bulge:**

And the full rendition of the Panzer song as sung earlier in the movie:

Is it any wonder Tom remembered this and wanted something similar in his movie? How could anyone not be moved by this? Whether in Hollywood or in real life, the military certainly knows music.


*Yes, Tom was a family friend

**The video I originally posted was in English. As so often happens with YouTube, it disappeared a few years later and I couldn’t find another copy. Then, just today (4/24/19) I saw that a German clip had appeared in its place. I don’t know how it happened, but I’m delighted to have it again, regardless of language.

Also on Pied Type:

14 thoughts on “Clancy’s inspiration for the Red October music/singing

    1. No, he saw Tom a few years ago when he was in Baltimore on business. My ex and I were friends of the Clancys back in the ’70s and had kept in touch with Tom off and on since then. See my post that explains how we met, etc.

  1. The music is moving, and I can see why that master story teller would want to use it. Unfortunately military music has inspired millions of young men to give their lives for undeserving causes.

    1. True, the music is intended to inspire patriotic fervor. But whether or not the cause is undeserving would depend on which side you’re on, wouldn’t it? Those young tank drivers and their commander didn’t think their cause was undeserving. But the Allies did. We sing our patriotic songs today and think our cause is just, but it’s a cinch the Muslim terrorists don’t think so.

      1. Yes, it does depend on one’s viewpoint, but the position can vary with the circumstances. For example, I think much of our recent military activity has not been justified, and I’m on our side.

    1. The song in Battle of the Bulge is an actual German song from WWII. Sources differ about whether the song sung in Red October is an actual Soviet or Russian anthem. The rest of the score was written for the movie.

  2. I can’t argue with your reasoning that the Battle of the Bulge version is better, but then The Hunt for Red October version does sound more like what I’d expect a real submarine crew to sound like when singing isn’t exactly their profession.

    BTW, this post reminds me that you did several posts about Clancy that I never got around to reading. “Lucy, you got some readin to do!” 😳

  3. The use of music to build military cohesion and camaraderie has a long and well-deserved tradition in all cultures that I know of. When I entered USNA in the hot summer of 1955 one of the items on our agenda was a series of assemblies in which all thousand of us learned and sang songs from our “Book of Navy Songs”. I just looked in the book self and I still have it. In addition to the obvious, like Navy Blue and Gold, the Marine’s Hymn, and Anchors Aweigh, the selections included:

    Abdul Abulbul Amir
    The Navy Drinking Song (says something about the culture, eh?)
    Blow the Man Down
    The Navy Hymn
    The Goat is Old and Gnarly
    Army Blue (helps to know the enemy)

    During the time I was there one of the favorite records my roommates and I had was one from the Red Army Chorus. They were famous even then, when the Cold War was hot.

    1. I’ve always thought large male choruses sound better than anyone. They could sing the phone book and have me tapping my foot. If they sing a military march, I’ll probably enlist!

      I learned a lot of military songs in my post-war grade school. All the songs for all the military branches. We sang those and some of America’s patriotic songs every morning. These days it would probably be considered some sort of indoctrination and therefore politically incorrect.

... and that's my two cents