The Finest Hours

The Coast Guard has always held a special place in my heart, particularly after reading "So Others May Live" by Martha J. LaGuardia-Kotis, about Coast Guard Rescue Swimmers. Now we have a new book co-authored by Casey Sherman and Michael J. Tougias which was adapted by a team of script writers for Director Craig Gillespie ("Lars and the Real Girl" and "Million Dollar Arm"). They wrote a thrilling actioner that will leave you exhausted but happy. It's based on a real event which is still considered to be the greatest small-boat rescue in the history of the Coast Guard.

This movie takes place in 1952 off the coast of Cape Cod when a pair of oil tankers are caught in a vicious blizzard where violent seas broke both of them in half. We end up with only the stern of the SS Pendleton left afloat. The crew could see the welds failing and had closed all the bulkheads. Of course their major challenges are maneuverability and communications...along with overwhelming waves, lack of leadership (their captain was in the other end), and an endless series of crises, which prompt one desperate tactic after another.

The cast:
  • Chris Pine ("Star Trek") Shy, self-effacing Coast Guardsman Bernie Webber knows crossing the bar into a stormy sea is probably hopeless, but if his commanding officer has given the order.... Only three men volunteer to go along.
  • Holliday Grainger ("Lady Chatterley's Lover" 2015) Miriam is NOT shy or self-effacing. In fact, SHE proposes to HIM because she knows Bernie will never muster the courage.
  • Ben Foster ("Lone Survivor") Richard Livesey makes fun of his commanding officer's Georgia accent and he seems alienated and surly, but when the chips are down, he volunteers to go with Bernie on that hopeless rescue mission.
  • Kyle Gallner ("American Sniper") is Andy Fitzgerald, one of the  Guardsmen who gamely volunteers to join them.
  • Eric Bana ("Munich") Daniel Cluff is in charge of this Coast Guard station. He's unsure about sending his men out to almost certain death, but he can't ignore a foundering oil tanker in heavy seas.
  • Casey Affleck ("Interstellar") Ray Silbert is reluctant to give orders on that disintegrating tanker, but no one is taking any effective action, so his ingenious problem solving becomes vital to his 31 other shipmates.
Because this is based on real people, we don't see any swashbuckling bravado, but instead we see visible hesitation and concern about this rash decision, AND the aftereffects as adrenalin wears off following that hair-raising rescue.

This is rated PG-13, so expect an overwhelming storm at sea, but no profanity, no sweaty bodies, no gunfire and not one car crash! (Well... Miriam DOES slide into a snow bank.) What you WILL see is the resourcefulness of humans, the tenacity of these seafaring heroes and a wonderful wrap up which includes newspaper accounts of the incident, photos of the "real" people and bits of biographies to provide a satisfying end to a thrilling film. Please recommend this to your friends!
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Here is a preview:
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