You Ever Have a Movie That You Thought You’d Seen...?

…But Hadn’t?

I couldn’t sleep. I came downstairs and started browsing Amazon Prime. When sleep seems impossible, I look for something either boring or familiar to watch. The Final Countrown was familiar. I must have seen it as a kid. The poster shot with the Nimitz and the portal is iconic. Over the years you Tomcat fans bring it up as a favorite (I prefer the F-8). And all this time I’ve been reading those posts nodding my head and agreeing, “yep, great flick!” Turns out I had never actually seen it. Top Gun was OK as far as pilot porn goes but its a bit of a cartoon. The Final Countdown was much better. It had a great story. It had Kurt Douglas (who actually served in the Pacific during the war). The story was told tightly and believably. And I humbly submit that the flying was much better than Top Gun. Darn! Now I am really pumped! May as well give up and make coffee.


You hadn’t seen «The Final Countdown»…?
And you call yourself a pilot?
This is an outrage!


It is a good movie! And as sci-fi goes, quite believable!
I mean, I don’t think time travel is possible, but I sure wish it was.
And yes, the flying is great! It was just what my young pilot-wannabe mind needed back in the 80ies.

Oh, BTW, it’s Kirk Douglas. But I’ll forgive that since you probably are very tired.

And yes, I should be practising flows… :dizzy_face:

Some months ago I stumbled upon this movie when zapping TV channels. I’ve definitely seen it before but went “Nah, just for the lolz let’s watch the first fifteen minutes with some flying action”. I ended up watching the whole movie (kind of pretending I hadn’t seen it before) :smiley:

Fun fact: During that low level scene when the Tomcats are bouncing the Zeros, one of the Navy pilots almost hit the surface. I think that scene made it into the final cut.

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BladeRunner. One of these days…


No Kidding! I noticed that! He was too slow in the scissor and began to mush almost into a spin. I’ve seen that mistake so many times at contests that I wanted to scream, “Zero!” (the score, not the plane)

“KirK” and “Kurt”. That little mistake came up in his book “I am Sparticus!” (Great book about the Red Scare era)

I love it. Best areal photography in a movie in my opinion.

It seems that they actually shot the gun and launched a Sidewinder specifically for the movie (the side numbers of the aircraft match with the rest of the footage). No stock footage or special effects like in Top Gun.

Some more trivia:
Did you notice that the aircraft carry AIM-9G on one side and AIM-9L on the other? They probably used an el-cheapo AIM-9G for the launch footage.

Thumbs up for filming aircraft loaded up with (inert) weapons!

I’ve never been on a boat but the activity felt authentic. And Martin Sheen threaded threaded the needle between respect, cockiness, uneasiness and familiarity perfectly. Plus it’s a movie about a ship, not a pilot. Everyone has a role. A hundred guys run out to erect the barricade in less than a minute. Top Gun was the greatest recruiting film of all time. But THIS film portrayed a Navy that knows what it is doing.

Thumbs up for even using real airplanes. Nowadays it’s all GCI…

In most productions puts an enormous den’t on the fidelity of motion.

Aaaand i finally scratched that one off my bucket list.

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I also kinda liked that movie.

And in response to your question:
I have seen loads of films only partial and I sometimes don’t remember which ones. So yeah, similar thing, and also leads to some interesting situations when talking about it.

A couple of anecdotes from both movies from a guy who was in a Tomcat squadron (VF-32 Swordsmen) 1986-1988 … when Topgun came out. A LCDR in the squadron (call sign "Rat Breath…I never asked why) had been some how involved in The Final Countdown.

Final Countdown Trivia:

Kirk Douglas wasn’t all that tall so they built a little box that he stood on for the shots of him looking out the bridge windows …he does look more commanding.

The Nimitz was an east coast carrier and no, the Navy was not going sail it to Hawaii just to shoot the movie. All the “present day” Pearl Harbor shots were shot at NAS Key West.

Watch the air-to-air scenes of the F-14’s fighting the Zeros. Due to the radical differences between the aircraft, it was very hard for the Tomcats to stay behind the Zeros. There is one, few seconds shot where one of the Tomcats “departs” (departs controlled flight) and makes a big “swoop” towards the water before the pilot regains control. He filmmakers thought it was great and kept it in…the aircrew…not so much.

This is the only movie I know of with a scene shot in CVIC, the carrier’s intel center…a space where I have spent a good deal of my sea time.

They used a few real Navy guys in some scenes. Near the end of the movie the Senator grabs. Flare gun inside an SH-3 and it goes off blowing up the helo. Back on the carrier, a First-Class Petty Officer (E6) air traffic controller with, a bit thin and with red hair is sitting at his radar console, exclaims, “The helicopter! It’s gone. It just disappeared!” Or words to that effect. In 1986, this then Ensign as on the Kennedy (CV-67) and went into CIC for something where he saw a very familiar controller sitting at a radar position.

Me - Hey aren’t you the guy…?
Him- Yes that was me…and No, I am not going to say " It just disappeared" for you.

Actually he was a pretty good guy and a sharp fighter intercept director. His callsign was Redbone

Topgun Trivia:

Other than it was shot all over San Diego…meaning Maverick’s motorcycle would have had to been faster than his Tomcat to get from scene to scene…and and that many events were incongruous at best, having served in an F-14 squadron when the movie was released, per Navy regs I am required to think it the best film ever made (although it was tragically ignored at the Oscars)

I don’t have any flattering Topgun Trivia.

Goose was killed because he failed to follow NATOPS Bold Face procedures for a spin. In a flat spin it clearly states:
RIO - Canopy Jettison. Command Eject.

The NATOPS Spin Bold Face was recited from memory by one of the aircrew at the brief before every air-to-air training hop. If they got it wrong, they didn’t fly. I heard it so many times that even I can recite it from memory. Bottom line, although a realistic scenario, Goose really, really shouldn’t have missed that vital step.

On the plus side, the actor that played Goose was the only one not to lose his lunch during the F-14 fam flights.

Best line: Michael Ironsides (Jester), “You never leave your wingman.”

In the Navy Intel training we teach that two fighters together are a threat. One fighter by itself is a target. We use the Jester line to reinforce the point. :sunglasses:


Ah yes, the 2-2-2 load…one of our favorites. 2xAIM54, 2xAIM-7 and 2xAIM-9M. Allows you to engage from long BVR to a close in knife fight.


Great post :thumbsup::thumbsup:

Not quite in the same category as the original question, but Sunday night I rented/streamed Master and Commander from Amazon, having not seen it since it was originally released in theaters. Great flick BTW. After the film finished, I had a deja vu moment and opened the DVD drawer. Sure enough, there it was (you big dummy). I consoled myself that perhaps the 1080p (?) stream was better than the upscaled version.


Amazon approves entirely. :grin:

I love to read about such events from the guys who lived it down.
I read both books by Dave Baranek; «Top Gun Days» and «Before TGD». Lots of TG trivia but more about the life as a F-14 RIO, going through initial training, Top Gun, as a student and later as an instructor.
Recommended reading!


Yeah nice book!