Down Periscope – 25th Anniversary

Kelsey Grammar, best known for his role as “Frasier” stars as Lt. Commander Thomas “Tom” Dodge a career Naval officer who is given one last chance to command his own submarine as Down Periscope celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary.

Having been passed over two previous times, Dodge is under consideration for a third and final time at being given the command of his own submarine or be dropped from the Navy’s submarine command program.

Vice Admiral Dean Winslow (Rip Torn) gives Dodge the command of a World War II-era diesel powered submarine the, USS Stingray and asks Dodge to “invade” Charleston harbor without being detected and then sink a dummy ship in Norfolk with two live torpedoes as part of a war game to test the Navy’s defenses. Dodge who is obviously reluctant offers Winslow a wager if successful that Winslow give him (Dodge) the command of proper nuclear submarine, Winslow agrees.

Rear Admiral Yancy Graham (Bruce Dern) who not only dislikes Dodge but opposed Dodge’s promotion gives Dodge a “crew of misfits” to command on the Stingray. From a hot-tempered and uptight executive officer Lt. Martin Pascal, a rebellious Engineman 1st Class Brad Stepanak, a sharp-eared Sonar Technician 2nd Class E.T. “Sonar” Lovacelli, Electrician’s Mate Nitro “Mike” and to top it all off Lt. Emily Lake is assigned by Graham as the sub’s diving officer, part of a “special program” to see if women can successfully serve aboard submarines.

Dodge takes advantage of an Atlantic storm and takes Charleston Harbor. Upset, Graham reduces the war game’s containment area by half without authorization and assumes personal command of the submarine USS Orlando. In order to avoid the active sonar from all the naval ships and aircraft protecting Norfolk, Dodge employs a dangerous maneuver that involves taking the Stingray through the baffles of a commercial super tanker.

The super tanker going in a different direction eventually forces Dodge to take the Stingray from under the tanker. Having gotten far enough in front Dodge is able to fire his two live torpedoes at the dummy ship at Norfolk before the Orlando is able to confirm a targeting solution on the Stingray. The torpedoes hit the ship thus giving the Stingray the war game victory.  

Down Periscope was released to theaters on March 1, 1996 it would go on to earn just over $37 million dollars worldwide on a budget of $31 million.

Reggie’s Take:

Down Periscope is one of my all-time favorite comedies, I have loved this movie from the first time I watched it. Is it the best comedy ever made? Of course not. The movie like any other movie does have its flaws and that is to be expected.

The premise might be a bit farfetched the idea of a diesel-powered submarine with a crew of misfits trying to outthink and outwit the Navy’s nuclear fleet adds to the fun and enjoyment of Down Periscope. The critics said the movies energy was too low for it being a comedy, that it needed flair, the comedy does not really amount to much. Personally, I have always enjoyed the movies pace and humor.

Whether or not you find a movie funny is much like if you like or dislike a movie, it is all subjective. What one person finds funny someone else may not. For me Down Periscope works and if you do not that’s fine. I have never been a fan of comedies where the humor of the movie is so over the top and so outrageous that I am not sure if I am to laugh or not. There are a few Jim Carrey movies that fit that bill for me, not all his movies, just a few.

When I think about Down Periscope, fun is the only word that comes to mind. I love the cast; I enjoy the plot no matter how basic some may find it and it makes me laugh every time. There are not a lot of movies that I can say that about, but Down Periscope is one.  

For me Down Periscope still holds up twenty-five years later and will for years to come. Have you seen the movie and if so, do you still enjoy it? Would love to know what everyone thinks, please leave a comment as I would love to hear.

Favorite Quotes:

Bruce Dern: Admiral Graham: Now, call me a prude if you want, but I don’t think it’s good policy for the Navy to hand over a billion-dollar piece of equipment to a man who has “Welcome Aboard” tattooed on his penis.


Adm. Dean Winslow: What do you think, Mr. Dodge?

Lt. Comd. Dodge: I think I’m gonna get my ass kicked, sir.

Adm. Dean Winslow: Aw, don’t think like that! Damn it to hell! Don’t go by the book. Think like a pirate. I want a man with a tattoo on his dick. Have I got the right man?

Lt. Comd. Dodge: By a strange coincidence, you do, sir


Lt. Comd. Dodge
She may not be the youngest girl at the ball, but she’ll turn a head or two.



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