Tom Clancy, RIP
October 03, 2013, 12:22 AM
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The Hunt for Red October was a galvanizing book to read in 1985. I expected at the time that it would be even better in movie form, because movies don't have the inevitable weakness of printed books: you know when books will end by feeling the number of unread pages being held down by your right thumb. 

In The Hunt for Red October, everything goes right for the Americans culminating in a spectacularly complex rescue / false sinking of the refugee Soviet supersub in the North Atlantic. It's very well done, but it doesn't seem very plausible: fog of war, and all that.

But, your right thumb can tell that that's just the False Ending. And, indeed, for the next hundred pages, everything goes wrong for the Americans. (Clancy's message: military stuff is hard and luck plays a major role). This sets up the much harder-earned True Ending.

So, I was looking forward to the 1990 movie with a skinny Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan, because you can't physically tell when a movie will end. During the movie's False Ending, I was ready for the complete reversal of fortune ... and then the credits came up. The False Ending was the Ending Ending. The movie makers had lopped off entirely what made the plot so satisfying. 

Oh, well ...