NEITHER CONFIRM NOR DENY
(director: Philip Carter; screenwriter: based on the book by David Sharp; editor: Ben Stark; music: K; cast: Richard Nixon, Howard Hughes; Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Sheryl Crown, Maggie Monteith, Christopher Simon; New Sparta Films/Greenwich Entertainment, Apple TV+ and Prime Video; 2020-UK)
“Engrossing documentary on a little known spy episode.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
The film is based on the book by CIA lifer David Sharp, who also acted as the film’s technical adviser. Philip Carter directs this engrossing documentary that’s based on a little known spy episode that took place in 1968 during the height of the Cold War.
It morphs into a thriller using anecdotes and archival footage to look back at a covert CIA effort, Project Azorian, to secretly steal the intel from a sunken Soviet K-129 nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean floor (located 3 miles below the North-Central Pacific, some 1800 miles from Hawaii). Oddly enough the Russians had no idea where their missing submarine could be located.
The coverup operation was used to prevent leaks either to the Russians or the media (with leaks eventually taking place to journalists). The billionaire Howard Hughes was used as a cover by making every one think he was on a deep-sea mining operation while it was really the CIA operators at the submarine sighting.
The 6 year operation culminated in 1974 during the Watergate scandal.
The historical film had one of or lead investigative journalists, the late Jack Anderson, call attention for America to provide government transparency and press freedom even when documents are classified. He maintains that a free press is as essential to American democracy as having a secretive spy organization.
REVIEWED ON 10/1/2023 GRADE: B