Studio Execs In The Editing Room Could Have Ruined The Hunt For Red October

Part of what makes "The Hunt for Red October" so great is that its focus forgoes the traditional "good guys vs. bad guys" plot for something that's a lot more complex. The film tells the story of Captain Marko Ramius (Sean Connery), the commanding officer of the Red October, a Soviet submarine with the ability to move through the water virtually undetected thanks to the use of a special kind of technology called "the caterpillar." At the start of the film, Ramius' motivations are unclear. At first, it seems that he is planning to utilize the caterpillar to launch a surprise attack on the United States. However, thanks to the smarts of CIA analyst, Jack Ryan (Alec Baldwin), it becomes clear that Ramius is not trying to harm the United States at all, but rather he, along with a handful of other crew members on the submarine, are trying to defect.

Once it becomes obvious that Ramius is not the traditional "bad guy," the movie becomes a psychological thriller filled with layers of intrigue and espionage that make the film more about shaky alliances than actual, all-out war. Yes, things blow up and people die, but the heart of "The Hunt for Red October" lies with its characters and their true motivations. However, there was a time when the movie almost ran the course of traditional blockbuster war movie by being heavy on the action and fighting. Thankfully though, the film was saved before heading down the road of cheap thrills.

Not too Top Gunny, please

In a June 2014 exclusive interview for Empire magazine, director John McTiernan opened up about, among other things, his time working on "The Hunt for Red October." He explained how he viewed the story, saying, "It's 'Treasure Island.' The story of a boy who has to go off and find the scariest man of the sea on Earth, who turns out to be a sweet old bastard." And while I'm not 100% certain I agree that Ramius is a "sweet old bastard" — he legit kills a man with his bare hands, y'all — this approach to the script is an interesting one. However, after filming was complete, McTiernan got a call from the editor of the film claiming that there was someone at Paramount who was unhappy with the way the film was cut. 

McTiernan is well known for a lot of really good action movies, "Die Hard" and "Predator" among them. So when someone tells him that they don't think he knows what he's doing, he's not going to take that too well. He told Empire, "A director always has a giant target on his back that ambitious junior executives shoot at. One in ten of them are sociopaths." He went on to explain, "This guy had a theory that he was going to turn 'Red October' into 'Top Gun.' He was going to make it flashy and Top Gunny-like." 

Thankfully for fans of the film, McTiernan put his foot down and refused to make the changes, saying, "Fortunately I was working for Frank Mancuso and Ned Tanen, guys who weren't going to get conned by some nonsense from a young tyro." Colorful descriptors aside, it's a good thing McTiernan had a clear vision for "Red October," a movie that excels simply because it is so un-Top Gunny-like