Mission Impossible: The Submarine (1970)

Country: United States
Director: Paul Krasny
Starring: Peter Graves, Leonard Nimoy, Greg Morris, Peter Lupus, Lee Meriwether, Stephen McNally, Ramon Bieri, William Wintersole
Theme: Lalo Schifrin

By the fourth season of Mission: Impossible, the IMF team had quite a shakeup. Martin Landau and his wife, Barbara Bain had left the series, and in came Leonard Nimoy (I am an actor, not Spock), as master magician, Paris. The shakeup didn’t really effect the series too much, but I suspect the formula was starting to wear thin.

This particular episode starts in the usual manner, with Jim Phelps (Peter Graves) receiving his instructions from a miniaturised tape recorder (the recording will, of course ‘self-destruct’ afterwards). His mission is to locate a vast quantity of money stolen by the S.S. at the end of World War II. This money is to be used to fund a Neo-Nazi coup in Europe. The only person who knows the location of this money is Krueger Stelman (Stephan McNally). Stelman is about to be released from prison after a 25 year stint for war crimes.

But the IMF aren’t the only people trying to track the money. Colonel Sardner (Ramon Bieri) is an interrogation officer for an un-named Communist country, and each evening he takes Stelman from his prison cell and has him delivered to his headquarters, where he grills him about the location of the money. Over 25 years Stelman has never broken. In fact, it is something that he is very proud of. Every morning, after the interrogation, Stelman is driven back to prison.

On Stelman’s last day of incarceration, the IMF pull off a daring kidnapping, as Stelman is returned to prison one morning. Sardner is not happy that his prisoner has been snatched from under his nose and sets up road blocks around the city. He then orders patrols to search every building in the area until they find Stelman. Jim and the IMF team figure they have 2 hours to break Stelman before they are discovered by Sardner. The clock is ticking…

Stelman wakes up on the top of a two tier bunk on a German U-boat. Below him, on the bottom tier is Tracey (Lee Meriwether), another IMF agent. It looks like she has been badly beaten. Her face is swollen and bruised and she has blood on her cheek. She is also rambling incoherently about Colonel Sardner. To Stelman, it appears that she too was interrogated by Colonel Sardner, but she broke and provided information to the enemy.

Of course, being the IMF, they aren’t really on a U-boat, but an elaborately constructed set inside a warehouse, near where the abduction took place. Jim Phelps and Paris (Leonard Nimoy) play two German officers who are taking Stelman and Tracey back to S.S. Headquarters to stand trial. When Stelman realises that he too must be looked upon as a traitor, if he is to stand trial. But he knows that he didn’t break under interrogation and he can prove his innocence by providing the location of the stolen S.S. funds.

In usual Mission: Impossible style, there are a few twists and turns in the plot, and of course, they have to beat the clock and get the information they require before Colonel Sardner and his goons arrive. This is a pretty slick entry in the Mission: Impossible series, but the story is somewhat predictable. And for me, the biggest crime is that Lee Meriwether is almost wasted in this episode. Thankfully she appears in three other episodes in the series.

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