Tom Hank’s Greyhound movie set on USS Kidd

The movie industry news media are talking about Tom Hank’s latest project, a WW2 movie about the Atlantic Convoy War called Greyhound.

Hanks has written the screenplay and will play the lead character. His script is based on the 1957 novel The Good Shepherd by C.S. Forester – probably best known for his Hornblower series and The African Queen.

What is the movie about?

It is set in the winter of 1942, the height of the war in the Atlantic, and features fictional characters on a fictional convoy. Its central character is a firmly religious U.S. Navy Commander, George Krause, commanding the multi-national escort ships from his own destroyer USS Keeling (renamed ‘Greyhound’ for the movie). He doesn’t have that many escorts; just two destroyers: his USS Keeling and a Polish destroyer Viktor, plus two corvettes: HMS James (British) and HMCS Dodge (Canadian).

USCGC Spencer wallowing in a moderate Atlantic swell
Convoy duty was grueling. This is the US Coastguard cutter Spencer on convoy duty (Photo: USC public domain)

As the book starts, the convoy of 37 merchantmen is in the middle of the ‘Atlantic Gap’ where allied patrol aircraft can’t reach, and a wolf pack of U-boats is closing in on them. The book follows Commander Krause as he directs his forces over two days and nights with no sleep and little respite, as they rush around the convoy fending off attacks.

Indeed that’s one of the key aspects of the book. The pace is relentless making it almost impossible to put down. When I started reading it, I thought I’d put it down when I got to the end of the first chapter. Big mistake. There are no chapters!

So, it should make a cracking film!

So far there is no other casting news, other than Hanks, but we do know that Aaron Scheider has been signed up to direct the movie and Sony Pictures have reportedly bought the worldwide distribution rights.

So, who are they going to use for USS Keeling/Greyhound?

Well, according to Louisiana Economic Development (LED) they will start shooting in March on board the Fletcher class USS Kidd museum ship in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

US Navy WW2 destroyer underway with other ships
USS Kidd in dazzle camo in the Pacific 12 June 1944 (Photo: USN public domain)

LED estimates $29.5m of the $50.3m budget will get spent in Louisiana. Let’s hope the USS Kidd Veterans Museum gets a serious chunk of that to spend on maintenance, restoration and facilities.

Feature image: USS Kidd in Baton Rouge, 2013 (CC BY-SA 3.0 By Niagara, own work, via Wikimedia Commons)

Convoy image: United States Coast Guard Cutter Spencer (WPG-36) during WWII in 1942 or 1943. Spencer sank the German submarine U-175 on April 17, 1943. Photographer unknown but possibly Bob Gates

Pacific fleet image:  USS Kidd (DD-661) off Roi Island, Kwajalein, en route to the Saipan Invasion, 12 June 1944. Anchored in the left background is the battleship USS Tennessee (BB-43), with a destroyer alongside and an escort carrier beyond. Photo taken from USS New Mexico (BB-40).



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