The Finest Hours: Hollywood Discovers the Coast Guard



The Coast Guard has never gotten much attention or respect from Hollywood, but a new trailer for Disney’s The Finest Hours (due in theaters January 29, 2016) suggests that someone has finally figured out that sea rescues just might make an exciting movie.

The Finest Hours stars Chris Pine (Star Trek, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit) and features Eric Bana and Ben Foster from Lone Survivor in a movie based on a real-life 1952 rescue attempt off the coast of Cape Cod that took place after a pair of oil tankers were destroyed during a blizzard.

The only Coast Guard-themed movie anyone might remember would be Kevin Costner and Ashton Kutcher’s 2006 flick The Guardian, but, then again, anyone’s who’s seen it might prefer to forget it. The Guard keeps a list of movies on its website, but many of the films on that sparse list have (at best) marginal Coast Guard connections: who thinks of the Coast Guard when they hear about Top Gun, Bad Boys II or Man of Steel?

On February 18, 1952, Coasties from Lifeboat Station Chatham on the south coast of Cape Cod took a 36′ wooden life boat out to rescue men from the SS Fort Mercer and SS Pendleton in the midst of a blizzard. 70 men were saved in what’s been called the greatest small-boast rescue in Coast Guard history.

Aside from the actors’ struggles with New England accents, this trailer looks pretty awesome. After years of watching the other branches get all the glory, Coasties may finally get their Hollywood moment.

  • Yooki

    The movie The Perfect Storm gives the Coast Guard some good kudos.

  • Leon Suchorski

    NCIS, has had several programs about joint investigations with their Coast Guard counter part. These are obviously to generate interest in a new TV series with a former active duty female Marine in the lead character. I thought that they all were very good.

  • Capt K

    Lets see a movie about Hurricane KATRINA. CG saved 30,000 lives in just about one week

    • Husker Coastie

      Better include the National Guard in that Katrina movie. Most people only remember the bad stuff, and the lies. But I saw plenty of heroes from all over the country run down there as fast as they could.

      As a veteran of the U.S.C.G. and the Army National Guard, I can’t wait for this movie and would definitely be all over a Katrina movie.

      • Leon Suchorski

        Or how many of these people who are in dreamland, do not even realize that the Coast Guard saw service in ALL of our wars and on foreign soil. Our Coast Guard has a primary duty to watch our home waters, but they serve everywhere.

  • Kodiakzack

    The Guardian would have been a much better movie if it had been predominantly filmed in Alaska, where viewers were to believe the rescue sequences took place. As it happened, Hurricane Katrina delayed filming of the rescue swimmer training sequences in Louisiana, and an untimely volcano eruption in Alaska shut down south-central Alaska ship and air transportation for several days, delaying filming so much that most of the Kodiak, Alaska scenes had to be filmed in a studio with a “green screen” in order to meet the production deadline.

  • Paul

    What about the 1958 classic, Onionhead, starring Andy Griffith? A GREAT movie!

  • Dan

    A great book ten hours till dawn about the coast guard in the blizzard of 78.

    • CWO ozzie

      this one was a great book.

  • Bill B.

    How about the spectacular rescue by the CGC Bibb of 69 passengers and crew of the passenger plane, Bermuda Sky Queen, in the North Atlantic in the late 1940s!

  • Scott O

    Despite some of the comments often made about The U. S. Coast Guard they are a unique service and they provide much more than just rescue and drug interdiction duties. The USCG is about to celebrate 225 years of service to the nation. Just ask anyone who has been rescued at sea by members of the Coast Guard how thankful they are for what we do. Every time I hear the words “Puddle Pirates or Shallow Water Sailors” I simply think Yes and Damn Proud of it! Semper Paratus

    • M. N

      You are so correct Scott, not to mention how many outside of the Coast Guard community is aware that one of those flag draped coffins landing at Dullas AFB from the Middle East conflict was a Coast Guardsman? How about the piglets the AF borrowed during the Vietnam Nam conflict due to the search and rescue knowledge and more than distinguished themselves in battle and let us not forget SM1 Douglas Munro. With shoulders such as these to stand on I too am proud to be called a “COASTIE”. Semper Paratus my brothers.

    • jeff glenn

      Semper Paratus … USCG ’68-’72

  • Gregory Tolmas

    When the saying “They say we have to go out but they don’t say we we have to come back” was knocked by DC. Jack’s Joint soon had the 30’s regulations posted demonstrating the long memory (and the sailing heritage) that goes back to George Washington. Jack’s Joint is a Coasty website that is for and by Coasties where each visit can bring a ‘so thats what happened’.

  • Lewis Renshaw

    I served with the hero of the movie, at Chatham LBS. It was back in 1961, when I had Chief Bernie
    Webber as the man in charge. Best and smartest Chief I ever had in my 4 years in the CG. I could
    tell a lot of stories, good one’s while at Chatham!

  • Charles Williams

    I was in the Coast Guard from 1957 to 1984. During my career I spent six years overseas in the Pacific Islands and Asia including two years in the remote jungles of the Philippines and served in Vietnam in 1967. I also spent six years in Alaska which was considered overseas. I served on four different ships for a total of five years at sea. As an Independent Hospital Corpsman (Medic) I have been the point man during many rescues at sea and was frequently involved in life saving events in foreign lands. I have been out in terrible weather conditions including heavy sea conditions and both Hurricanes off the East Coast of America and typhoons in both Guam and the Philippines. I found during my career that most people did not have a clue what the Coast Guard did and we did not have a big PR budget. In the past except for Onion Head and one film I remember about the Coast Guard and the International Ice Patrol Hollywood’s only use for the Coast Guard was to have stars in movies about other services make derogatory remarks about my service. Yes we have participated in every war this the U. S. has ever participated in. That including the French Pseudo War where we were the only U.S. Service to participate. We are also the longest continuing seagoing force in the U.S. After the revolutionary war the Army and Navy were disbanded and the soldiers and sailors went back to their usual occupations, farmers merchant seamen and shop keepers. The Coast Guard was established in August of 1790. The modern Navy was not launched until 1798. Since that time the Coast Guard has grown and evolved into the diverse multi-mission service that it is today. It is a small elite service with skill sets not found in our other Armed Forces. We serve not only during times of War, but everyday saving lives and carrying out operations anywhere in the world that the U. S. has and interest. If you are looking for heroes check our ranks and check our history. Sorry I got carried away. Chief Warrant Officer Charles D. Williams, USCG Ret.

    • Gregory Tolmas

      Well said and much more to the point then mine. You watched a lot of untold but interesting history