Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat: A Review of The Finest Hours



Chatham MA Coast Guard Station 2015

What do you think of when you hear Cape Cod Massachusetts? Most people think of summer breezes blowing off the Atlantic Ocean, delicious seafood and warm days spent at the beach. What many don’t think of is the Chatham coast guard and the rescue missions they’ve endured over the years. One such rescue is featured in Walt Disney’s newest movie The Finest Hours.

Based on a true story of a daring rescue off the coast of Cape Cod in 1952, “The Finest Hours” brilliantly explores the heroic mission of the coast guard. The film was theatrically released on January 29th 2016 with a run time of 117 minutes of action, adventure and romance. The movie opened to mixed reviews from critics and has brought in an estimated 18 million dollars domestically as of 02/07/2016. While most critics pan the movie as adding too much Disney fluff to a real life maritime disaster, audiences love the struggle and the resolve of the people involved.

Personally, I thought that the movie was wonderfully done. The casting of both Chris Pine and Casey Affleck in the main roles was fantastic. Each actor gave great performances throughout the movie and really brought the viewer in to make them feel like they were a part of the crew. The score for the entire movie was incredible and moving, and the story was gripping enough to have me on the edge of my seat even though I knew how it ended!

The one issue I had was with how dark the movie was. Not even in a scary sense, the movie was literally just too dark…I was ready to hit the brightness key from the start of the film to the end. That issue really made the 3D version much more difficult to view.

So what’s my overall conclusion? The movie storyline had its flaws, but overall I think it was a heartwarming story of courage under pressure and beating the odds. I would highly recommend seeing this movie (try for a non 3D showing, trust me you won’t be missing anything).

Now I bet you’re all wondering about the real life events of this amazing rescue on the Cape, right?! Below is the true story that inspired the film “The Finest Hours” and Disney stays pretty close to the facts.

On February 18, 1952 the 503 ft Pendleton tanker was trapped out at sea during a terrible Nor’easter that hit off the coast of Cape Cod. The tanker was ripped in half by the sea and left the crew stranded and at the mercy of the violent ocean. The movie follows coast guard crewmen Bernie Webber, Richard Livesey, Wallace Quirey and Ervin Mask as they set out on a daring mission from the Chatham harbor, over the treacherous Chatham bar to rescue the survivors while battling the sea and the still raging storm. The townfolk even becomes its own character in the movie helping in the conclusion.

Chatham Station

Living on Cape Cod Massachusetts, the Pendleton tanker rescue was a story I heard about well before Disney turned it into a movie. Like most Hollywood movies, “The Finest Hours” takes several liberties with the historical information. There are several articles depicting what is fact and what is fiction in the movie. Here are some fun trivia facts about the rescue of the Pendleton survivors:

  • The backdrop you see in the film is the real deal

So many movie companies create the backgrounds and landscapes from CGI…but last December Disney came to Chatham and filmed all along the harbor and at the lighthouse, so those gorgeous shots in the movie aren’t CGI, what you see on film is what you would see if you came to visit Chatham. The waves, however, are computer generated. The crew even set up the trailers and production vehicles in the parking lot for the Chatham movie theatre (how’s that for irony!).

  • Disney put out a casting call for any vintage cars for the film. The Orleans police department has a vintage police car from 1946 that was used in the movie. If you go to their Facebook page you can see some amazing photos from the set and even a picture of the real boat used in the actual rescue.
  • According to my Father in Law, prior to another Nor’Easter in 1978, you could see the wreckage from the parking lot of coast guard beach in Chatham. But after that second Nor’Easter the sea floor shifted and the remains of the Pendleton slipped below the surface line. If you like scuba diving though, this is a popular wreck to go look at…just watch out for sharks.
  • The actual rescue boat used to rescue the Pendleton survivors, CG36500, still exists and can be seen at Rock Harbor in Orleans every summer.

Did you see The Finest Hours? What did you think?

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