‘The Finest Hours’ starring Chris Pine and Casey Affleck, is certainly one of the finest ‘rescue’ movies ever made. It tells the true story of a dramatic rescue of more than twenty men hanging on for dear life to the second half of a tanker that split, in gale force winter winds and thundering tides on Feb. 18, 1952 off the coast of Chatham And Wellfleet Massachusetts. The movie is one hour and 57 minutes long, but it seems much shorter as this film is full of suspense. What one doesn’t expect is that this is also the story of true love, of a romantic relationship between Bernie Weber (played very well by Chris Pine, with a passable New England accent) and newcomer Holliday Grainger as Miriam his fiancee. It is not just two dozen stranded men that are rescued, but a marriage to be, that as it turned out lasted for 58 years (Weber died in 2009 at 81).
The Coast Guard is the most neglected of all our military services, and yet it has often done some of the most courageous deeds, as this movie demonstrates. What I especially appreciate about the Coast Guard is that their primary mission is not destroying our enemies but rather protecting and rescuing our own. Other than the violent seas in this movie, there is no violence in this film, only a tale of love and courage which both triumph in the end. My wife grew up in Attleboro Mass. not far from where these brave acts took place in 1952. She was only four at the time, but her parents knew all about this incredible story of heroism. It happened basically in their backyard, and was later chronicled in a 2009 book by Casey Sherman with the same title as the current movie.
This movie is available in HD if you enjoy swallowing a lot of ocean water with your popcorn, but the regular screening is just as effective and shows what a few good folk, dedicated to saving lives can accomplish. As Weber says ‘The Coast Guard says we have to go out, they don’t say we have to come back.” Their motto is ‘bring ’em back alive’ and what incredible risks they regularly take all in the line of duty.