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.

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Categories: Clancy Tom, entertainment, Media, print, video content, Writing

14 replies

  1. My mom is a big fan of Tom Clancy. Did your son work with him?

  2. 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.

  3. wow, cool. i’ve never really thought about these songs. just thought of them as part of the movies, but pretty powerfully used –

    • 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.

  4. 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!” 😳

  5. 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.

    • 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.

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