gray lady

Gray Lady Down

Gray Lady Down is a 1978 disaster film by Universal Studios which starred Charlton Heston, David Carradine, Stacy Keach, Ned Beatty, Ronny Cox, and featured the first film role for a young Christopher Reeve.


An aging, respected commander (Charlton Heston) is on his final submarine tour before his retirement. Surfaced and returning to port, the submarine, USS Neptune (possibly a Skate-class or Nautilus-class attack submarine) is struck by a giant freighter in heavy fog, and sinks to a depth of 1,450 feet on canyon ledge above the ocean floor. A US Navy rescue force commanded by Stacy Keach arrives on scene, but Neptune is perched at an angle that does not allow the Navy's Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle (DSRV) rescue submarine to complete its work.

A small experimental submersible, Snark, is brought in to assist with the rescue. Snark is very capable, but run by a nonconformist navy misfit (David Carradine). The tiny submersible is the only hope for a rescue.

Ronny Cox plays Neptune's executive officer, scheduled to take over command from Charlton Heston, Ned Beatty plays the Snark's second crewman, and Christopher Reeve appears in his first film role in a bit part for the sharp-eyed viewer.

The movie re-used submarine special-effect footage from Ice Station Zebra, as well as the large-scale submarine model, with that film's submarine (Tigerfish) appearing as the USS Neptune.

The movie is adapted from the novel Event 1000 by David Lavallee (1971).

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