Cape Codders hoping to blend into the background in the upcoming film "The Finest Hours", came to Monomoy Middle School today for an open casting call.
The line of locals was steady in spite of the rain and an approaching nor-easter-- conditions similar to the night of February 18, 1952 when the Pendleton broke apart in heavy seas 6 miles off the coast of Chatham.
The improbable rescue of 32 crewmembers floundering in towering waves by just four men with the Chatham Lifeboat Station, is referred to as the "greatest small boat rescue in Coast Guard history". That rescue boat was just 36 feet long and made of wood.
Today, in the center of the school gymnasium were three rows of folding tables and chairs, and men and women of all ages filling out applications. Three film staffers offered a brochure of information, along with two pages of basic questions to be answered-- name, address and phone number, height, weight and measurements for waist, hip, inseam and hat size. Staffers requested a photo, and if one was not provided, they offered to take a cellphone picture of the applicant. One of the women made the periodic announcement that all shooting in Chatham will take place from 4:00 pm until 4:00 am. That's right. If called, we'll work all night each night for as many as 12 nights in a row.
Film crews are currently shooting scenes at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, and will relocate to familiar locations in Chatham the first two weeks of December. Residents have been warned to expect street closures around the Chatham Fish Pier, the Coast Guard Station and Coast Guard Beach and Stage Harbor while filming takes place.
There were casualties on the Pendleton. When the ship broke apart the captain and seven crewmembers perished in the bow section. But the courage and sharp skill-set of the Chatham lifesavers defied the odds to bring 32 men back to shore alive.
"The Finest Hours" stars Chris Pine, Casey Affleck and Holliday Grainger, and is scheduled for release at the end of 2015.