The Finest Hours is a 2016 American historical disaster drama-thriller film directed by Craig Gillespie and produced by Walt Disney Pictures. The screenplay, written by Eric Johnson, Scott Silver, and Paul Tamasy, is based on The Finest Hours: The True Story of the U.S. Coast Guard’s Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias and Casey Sherman. The film stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Holliday Grainger, John Ortiz, and Eric Bana, and chronicles the true account of the 1952 United States Coast Guard rescue of the SS Pendleton, after it split apart during a nor’easter off the New England coast.
The Finest Hours was released in the Disney Digital 3-D, RealD 3D, and IMAX 3D formats on January 29, 2016.
Bernard “Bernie” Webber, a crewman at the Coast Guard station in Chatham, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, has fallen in love with a local girl, Miriam Pentinen. The two plan to marry on April 16, but in accordance with Coast Guard regulations, Bernie must seek permission from the station’s commander, Daniel Cluff. On the day he is due to ask permission, the oil tanker SS Pendleton shears in half off the Chatham coast after getting caught in a nor’easter. With the majority of the station’s crew already underway with the rescue of the similarly-afflicted SS Fort Mercer, Bernie is dispatched to pilot motor lifeboat CG 36500 to rescue the Pendleton; Bernie selects Andrew Fitzgerald, Ervin Maske, and Richard P. Livesey as his crew.
Meanwhile, the Pendelton’s engineer, the senior officer on the stern of the ship, which contains most of the crew, organizes the surviving seamen to steer the sinking stern of the tanker onto a submerged reef, where it can lodge until rescuers arrive.
When Miriam hears that Bernie is leading the rescue effort, she, like a number of other townspeople, thinks this is a suicide mission. Few people in Chatham trust Cluff, since he isn’t from the area and doesn’t know its treacherous weather. Miriam even goes as far as to drive to the station and repeatedly demand that Cluff call Bernie back. Cluff refuses, and brusquely orders Miriam out.
Between the Chatham harbor and the open sea lies a bar, a series of shoals that are very dangerous even in good weather. Bernie must time bursts of his engine to ride each approaching wave before it breaks as he pilots the 36500 across the bar. He manages to make it over the bar, though in the process he loses his compass.