What's the Difference between The Finest Hours the Book and The Finest Hours the Movie?


The Finest Hours

Released: 2009
Author: Michael J. Tougias

The Finest Hours

Released: 2016
Director: Craig Gillespie
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In the Book In the Movie
Bernie Webber
Bernie Webber
Portrayed by: Chris Pine
Richard Livesey
Richard Livesey
Portrayed by: Ben Foster
Andy Fitzgerald
Andy Fitzgerald
Portrayed by: Kyle Gallner
Ervin Maske
Ervin Maske
Portrayed by: John Magaro
Ray Sybert
Ray Sybert
Portrayed by: Casey Affleck
Daniel Cluff
Daniel Cluff
Portrayed by: Eric Bana
Miriam Webber
Miriam Webber
Portrayed by: Holliday Grainger
The Finest Hours Book vs Movie
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This Spoils the Ending
In the Book In the Movie
   The book opens with Bernie Webber worrying about his wife Miriam who is home sick with the flu. The book contains much backstory on Bernie that is not in the movie. The movie opens with Bernie Webber meeting Miriam for the first time on a blind double date.
   This does not happen in the book. Bernie Webber was only involved in the recovery of the boat and bodies. A Mr. Nickerson confronts Bernie about an incident in which a loved one was lost at sea.
   Bernie meets Miriam's parents on a 2nd date in 1950. She asks him to marry her a few months later and he says no. She demands he take her home where he changes his mind as he wants to keep her. They are married in July 1950 about 18 months prior to the rescue of the SS Pendleton. At a dance a few months after they met, Miriam asks Bernie to marry her, he says no. But changes his mind after they talk about it a little bit. They agree to get married on April 16th.
   Sybert slows the ship to 7 knots on his own accord due to the storm. Engineer Sybert on the SS Pendleton is concerned that moving 7 knots will crack a weld on the ship and wants to slow to 3 knots. The captain refuses to slow down.
   18 year old seaman Bridges goes topside to investigate after the ship breaks up to see what the men on the bow section are up to. He returns to report that the bow section is drifting away. A middle aged crewman is sent topside to speak to the captain, but he finds the ship has already split in two; the bow sinks as he watches.
   There is much detail on the SS Mercer splitting up and the rescue attempts. Bernie and other men hear radio reports about the Fort Mercer breaking up. Few other details on the SS Mercer in the movie.
   Bernie is ordered to retrieve fishing boats, nothing about asking for permission to be married as he is already married. Bernie is ordered to tie up fishing boats by Mr. Cluff. He is unable to ask Cluff for permission to marry Miriam.
   There was talk of launching a lifeboat, but the high waves convinced them not to. Sybert takes charge and is not shown as ineffective. He is afraid and under lots of stress though. The Pendleton crew is shown arguing about the best course of action; launch lifeboats or stay on the ship. Sybert is shown as indecisive. Sybert wants to run the boat aground to save the crew.
   This does not happen in the book.. Bernie gets crap from the chief about Miriam asking Bernie to marry her.
   BMC Orsmby takes a life boat out from Brant Point Station to rescue the SS Mercer crew. The seas are too much for them and they later tie up to a floating lightship. Cluff orders Chief Bangs out in a lifeboat to the SS Mercer, he complies without question. Bangs is later ordered to rescue the SS Pendleton Crew. Cluff orders Chief Bangs to take the 36500 out of Old Harbor to rescue the Fort Mercer crew. Bangs wants to take the 36383 out of Stage harbor instead due to the rough weather. Cluff asks Bernie for his opinion. Chief Bangs convinces Cluff to do it his way. BMC Ormsby does not appear in the movie.
   When the radar at Chatham Station is fixed they see two objects on the screen (SS Pendleton) but wonder what they could be since the SS Mercer would not be in that location. A pilot searching for survivors sees the bow of the SS Pendleton and radios an alert that is picked up by other ships and shore stations. A resident (Mr. Nickerson) on shore sees a ship adrift and hears the whistle. He tells Bernie. Bernie and his crew return to the station where they are told about the SS Pendleton.
   This does not happen in the book. The SS Pendleton crew is shown rigging up a manual tiller to steer the ship.
   The crew decides not to launch the lifeboat. While some men are up on deck arguing about the lifeboat, Sybert uses an ax to launch it empty where it is immediately crushed by the waves against the hull. He then takes charge of the crew.
   Bernie is ordered to take a crew(Livesey, Fitzgerald and Maske) out on CG36500 to the SS Pendleton. John Stello (local fisherman) shouts “You guys better get lost before you get out too far” to them as they row out to the lifeboat. Bernie is ordered by Cluff to take the CG36500 out with a crew to rescue the crew of the SS Pendleton. Mr Ryder and some of the men present try to talk him out of it; tell him to get lost instead of dying. Bernie says he will attempt the rescue anyway.
   Miriam was home sick in bed at the time. Miriam (while at work) tries to call Bernie before he goes out, he doesn't pick up the phone.
   The SS Pendleton Crew keeps the ship moving astern to keep it afloat. The crew of the SS Pendleton sights a shoal and steers towards it.
   Miriam was home sick with the flu and didn't find out what happened until it was over. Miriam shows up at Chatham Station looking for Bernie where she finds out he was sent out. She demands that Commander Cluff bring the men back. Gouthro also asks Cluff to bring Bernie's lifeboat back. Bernie is in communication by radio with the station, he is given further directions to continue. Miriam berates Cluff for his actions.
   The crew sings the hymn, Rock of Ages as they go over the bar. The going is rough and the compass is lost, but the boat stays on the surface the entire time. The engine dies several times but is restarted by a crewman who burns and bruises himself in the process. As lifeboat CG36500 goes over the first large wave it slips sideways and nearly capsizes. They lose the compass. The engine also dies. A crewman primes the engine and gets it started without injury in time to steer the boat properly into the next large wave. They successfully motor over the next few waves but completely submerge one time prior to making it over the bar.
   The ship drifts onto a sand bar. SS Pendleton misses the shoal they tried to ground on. The engines are reversed to let the ocean push them into the shoal. The ship's crew successfully grounds on the shoal.
   This drama was not played out in the book. The SS Pendleton's bilge pumps go out. Some of the crew continue to give Sybert grief about their situation.
   Chief Bangs and his lifeboat crew arrive at the bow section of the SS Pendleton and find one survivor who is lost after he tries to jump to their lifeboat. Chief Bangs stays out near the bow section for hours looking for more survivors, none are ever found from the bow section. The crew does not try to make Bernie return to shore. Bernie hears Chief Bangs on the radio saying his boat will return due to the weather. Bernie's crew tries to convince him to return.
   This does not happen. Miriam gets a ride after a car accident to a woman's home (wife of a dead fisherman Bernie failed to save) where she turns on a radio to hear reports on the SS Fort Mercer rescue. She is told it is better to live not knowing.
   The lights remain on during the rescue. Water continues to rise on the SS Pendleton and shorts out the generators; the lights go out.
   It stays aground for years. The SS Pendleton sinks right after the crew is transferred to the CG36500 lifeboat.
   Bernie also reported on the possible six men left on the bow section. Bernie contacts Chatham station and says they have 32 survivors on board. The Pollack lightship orders Bernie to rendezvous with them. Bernie turns off the radio and decides to go to shore instead of to the lightship.
   The power doesn't go out. Bernie guided the boat back to the fishing pier without assistance from shore other than a lighted buoy. The storm causes the power to go out at Chatham Station causing people to worry if Bernie can make it back. Miriam and others line their cars up on the shore to provide light to guide CG36500 back to the dock.
   They are down below in the forward section. The SS Pendlton crew is topside on the lifeboat while returning to shore.
   The sea was still rough, but with the boat following the sea, the ride in was less eventful. The sea was rather gentle while returning over the bar.
   She was home sick with the flu and unaware he was out to sea until later. Miriam is at the dock to greet Bernie.
   Bernie heard he might be punished for disobeying orders; he went to shore instead of meeting up with another ship as ordered. This was stopped when an Admiral congratulated him in writing for the rescue. Does not happen in the movie.
   Bernie is to be awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal while his crew will only get the Silver Lifesaving Medal. Bernie is angry with a captain and says he will refuse the medal unless his crewmen also get the gold medal. No details about this in the movie.
   The book goes into much more detail about crew members life after the rescue as well as extensive details on the SS Pendleton and SS Mercer. Movie ends with a few details on Bernie and Miriam's wedding date and his length of service in the Coast Guard. End credits show real life crew along with the actors portraying them.
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