Hunt for Red October, The (1990): John McTiernan’s Oscar-Winning Adventure, Starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin

The first of several films to be based on Tom Clancy’s “Jack Ryan” thrillers, The Hunt for Red October was meant to make the then hot stage actor, Alec Baldwin, a movie star.

In a two generational plot, Baldwin plays the eccentric CIA analyst Ryan, operating alongside the always reliable Sean Connery as a Soviet submarine commander named Marko Ramius.

Ramius sets the action in motion when he murders his political adviser, burns his orders, and steers his sub Red October towards the U.S., hoping to defect.

Aware that the Red October was about to embark on a mission to demonstrate its ability to fire nuclear missiles upon U.S. installations, while avoiding detection, the CIA believes that Ramius is an insane man, planning no less than starting World War III.

To cover their act, the Russians back up the CIA’s suspicion. Only Jack Ryan believes that Ramius’ mission is not as apocalyptic, especially after he is assigned to infiltrate the Red October.

In a follow-up to the equally commercially successful Die Hard, in 1988, director John McTiernan proves that he is a good craftsman in the technical departments.

The acting is superb for this kind of picture. Connery plays the Soviet mastermind with charm and gravitas, though he was not the first choice; German actor Klaus Maria Brandauer (“Out of Africa”) was offered the part but bowed due to scheduling conflicts. Newcomer Baldwin shows facility in dialogue as well as action sequences.

With the critics support, “The Hunt for Red October” became a box-office hit, though Baldwin opted not to replay the lead in the future installments, and Harrison Ford got the part.

Released during the Republican administration, the movie is also credited with launching a new series of Hollywood right wing, post-Cold War action-adventures.

Oscar Nominations: 3

Sound: Don Bassman, Richard  Overton,  Kevin F. Cleary, and Richard Bryce Goodman.

Film Editing: Dennis Virkler and John Wright

Sound Effects Editing: Cecelia Hall and George Waters II.

Oscar Awards: 1

Sound Effects Editing

Oscar Context:

“Dances With Wolves” won the Oscars for Sound and Editing (Neil Travis).


MPAA Rating: PG

Running time: 137 Minutes.

Directed By: John McTiernan