My Monday movies series continues–and I hope to expand the blog to other topics, but I’m doing a second draft of Much Ado About Barbecue, so I’m not quite to regular blogging. Do get ready for a book about warring barbecue houses, though. Estimated release date in early September!
On to Greyhound–and, yes, there will be a spoiler or two. Before I start this post, you need to understand that war pictures are not my jam. Dunkirk, Hacksaw Ridge, 1917. There are all fairly recent films I watched because they were Oscar contenders, but I didn’t like them. I can appreciate the artistry of recreating war for the big screen, but it makes me kinda tense. I did stop just shy of awarding this film my 2021 War is Hell Award, though, because it has a slightly more uplifting ending than some of the movies I mentioned.
Here’s the deal: Tom Hanks is the captain of a convoy escort. The year is 1942. American air forces can only fly out so far over the Atlantic Ocean; British air forces can fly out so far. That leaves this gap in the middle called the “Black Pit” where U Boats can pick off American and Canadian ships that are bringing much needed supplies to Great Britain. The movie, then, is a thriller about trying to pick off U boats before they can pick off ships from the convoy while also staying alive.
This movie is for you if you like any of the following: Tom Hanks, repeated naval commands, or World War II–especially naval history. An alternate title for this film might be Will Tom Hanks Ever Eat a Meal?
Why isn’t this movie for me? Look, these days I can’t help but look at a film from the point of view of why was this film chosen to bring to the screen instead of one of the eleventy billion other stories out there? It’s fine, but it adds to the long list of movies by white men about white men. Elizabeth Shue is in the film for about two minutes and has the character depth of a paper doll; she is the only woman. There are two Black men. One of them, Rob Morgan, plays mess attendant Cleveland who gets killed specifically to add to the grief of Hanks’s character, Commander Krause. We never know why Cleveland and Krause are close, but the former is always trying to get the latter to eat in a way that, quite honestly, reminded me of my grandmother. Cleveland and Krause always share a brief blessing over this meal that is inevitably spilled before it can be eaten.
Seeing yet another WWII film full of men who all look pretty much alike irks me. Best I can tell there hasn’t been a big Hollywood movie about World War II code breakers or, say, Virginia Hall. Just yesterday I saw a book coming out about the only all-Black battalion of the WACs. These are all stories we haven’t told yet, and, I suppose, I’m always on the look out for more of those.
Oh, here are some books about all of those women, should you be looking for a different WWII story: A Woman of No Importance by Sonia Purnell about spy Virginia Hall, Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy, and Sisters in Arms: A Novel by Kaia Anderson, which isn’t out yet. (All of the links are to indiebound)