Where have all the cruise flicks gone?


Technology makes life nicer.

Cell phones, for example. Not long ago it was impossible to talk to your family if you were out at sea. I’m not that old and I remember having to use teletype to send a message that would be printed out somewhere on land, and then get sent to the recipient by mail.

Nowadays you can talk to your loved ones and actually see them on screen. Fathers in Afghanistan or in the middle of the Indian Ocean are able to “be” in the delivery room for the birth of their babies, using the same technology. That’s pretty cool.

And movies. People at sea can watch just about any movie they want on their laptops or on a multitude of channels being piped throughout the ship.

It didn’t used to be that way. Movies used to run on vintage reel-to-reel projectors. The film cans were swapped around between the wardroom, the Chiefs’ Mess and the mess decks. Once everyone had seen the movie, it would be sent to another ship during an UNREP, and the receiving ship would send theirs back.

But if a ship was out there all alone – called independent steaming – the crew had no choice but to watch the same movies over and over again. The good ones became Cruise Flicks.

Pretty much anything with Clint Eastwood in it was an instant Cruise Flick. Same with Bruce Willis and Arnold. A Navy buddy of mine can still recite Conan’s declaration of what is best in life (“To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”). That was their cruise flick.

Ours was Caddyshack. There are former crew members out there who, upon spotting me, still greet me with a line out of Caddyshack. I am expected to continue the movie conversation or face shame and humiliation. The movie became so valuable to us that it was locked in the wardroom safe – along with the .45 and some important documents (they may have been war documents, but I’m not sure since the only reason I ever opened the safe was to get the movie).

I feel sorry for today’s Sailors, because they don’t get their own Cruise Flicks. And I’m sad because one day no one will remember Caddyshack for the classic it was. No one will be able to recite the movie line for line.

Or so I thought.

Today, during lunch, I taught my 2.75 year old how to say, “Gunga-lagunga.” She thought it was funny and said it over and over.

And I realized that I have a DVD of Caddyshack on the shelf. Theoretically, with careful instruction and daily repetition, by the time she graduates from high school she will be able to recite every line. The Cruise Flick – MY Cruise Flick – will endure.

So I’ve got that going for me.

Which is nice.


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  1. On one of my ships, we played Monty Python and the Holy Grail for several nights in the Wardroom before entering mission areas…after which we had no more time for movies. I think most of us could recite that entire movie also!

  2. On my first ship, My Tutor was the go to flick in crew’s mess. About 2/3 through the deployment, I was EOOW and the throttleman asked what the flick was. The Reactor Operator responded “My Tutor” and the Throttleman came back with “Is it any good?”. Both the RO and the EO looked at him wondering where he had been the first 120 days of deployment!

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