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Film / Greyhound

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"This is the captain. We are running down the target. Let us attend our duties well. This is what we’ve trained for."
Commander Ernest Krause

Greyhound is a 2020 war movie set in World War II starring Tom Hanks. Hanks also wrote the screenplay, an adaptation of the historical novel The Good Shepherd by C. S. Forester.

The film recounts the story of Commander Ernest Krause (Hanks), commanding officer of the destroyer USS Keeling DD-548 (radio callsign GREYHOUND) on the first escort mission of his career, in charge of convoy HX 25. As the ships enter the dread Mid-Atlantic gap (aka "The Black Pit") that Allied air forces don't have the range to cover, a U-boat wolfpack finds them. Krause's destroyers are now the only protection available until the convoy can reach safety within Britain's air range. An arduous three days sailing while under constant attack lies ahead.

The film was going to be released theatrically until the COVID-19 Pandemic delayed said release. It was then acquired by Apple TV+ to be streamed.

Greyhound contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Nationality: In the original novel, escort ship EAGLE was a Polish destroyer, manned by an entirely Polish crew, that had a single British liaison officer onboard for ease of communication.note  In the film however, EAGLE is an entirely British ship as seen by the captions showing the names of other ships. EAGLE's caption, which is shown twice over the course of the film, has the title of British destroyer above her name.
    • Also applies to the Air support that arrives at the end. In the book, the PBY is stated to be American when they notice that the flying boat has stars on its wings.note  Whereas the markings of the PBY model used in the film, clearly shows that it belongs to the British Royal Air Force.
  • Agony of the Feet: Krause has stood for so long his feet have begun to bleed, and removes his shoes to replace them with his bedside slippers.
  • America Saves the Day: Averted despite the film being set on an American Destroyer. The film features destroyers and corvettes of multiple nationalities, including British and Canadian. The Flying Boats used for Convoy Escort Duty are marked appropriately, including an RAF PBY towards the end. Although GREYHOUND manages to sink two U-boats unassisted, a third sunk with the help of DICKIEnote , and the final U-Boat was sunk by an RAF PBY which GREYHOUND marked by shooting at its position.
  • Animal Motifs: The U-boats are explicitly compared to a wolf pack out on the hunt. They're also accompanied by ominous squeals as they surface, like a pod of killer whales.
  • Artistic License – Ships:
    • GREYHOUND is a Fletcher-class destroyer note , the first of which was still under construction at the time the film takes place and wouldn’t enter service until June 1942. She also has the squared bridge of later Fletchers, which wouldn’t be seen until well into 1943.
    • USS Keeling is a fictional ship, and there has never been a ship with hull number DD-548. The closest was the destroyer escort USS Carpellotti DE-548. USS Kidd's hull number in real life is DD-661.
    • HARRY is a Tribal-class destroyer with the Royal Navy pennant number F80. In real life, this was the pennant number of the destroyer tender HMS Woolwich.
    • The most blatant concerns the U-boats:
      • There was no radio that allowed ship to ship communication in them, period. Wolfpack attacks were coordinated from shore, then once they were out of range they attacked convoys individually from every compass point at once.
      • NO U-Boat in the Kriegsmarine would have been caught dead taunting an enemy destroyer even if they HAD such radios. U-boats were absolutely dependent on stealth for survival, and that was Tempting Fate in a massive way due to Allied radio direction-finding capabilities, even in the framework of the movie, and any Alte that was stupid enough to do it probably would have been launched out of one of his own torpedo tubes.
      • While the U-boats did have conning tower art, it would never have been so blatant as Grauerwolf's, which would have stuck out like a sore thumb against the sea and added another layer of Tempting Fate. They tended toward irreverent or humorous little icons instead, such as the famous Der lachende Schwertfisch, "The Laughing Sawfish" of the 9th U-Boot Flotilla.note 
      • The U-boats seem to be a mix of designs: Their forward deck guns are positioned closer to the bow, reminiscent of the Type IX. However, the conning tower shape/design is that of a Type IA which had it's deck gun mounted closer to the tower.
  • Big Bad: Grauerwolf (Grey Wolf) is the closest to one in the movie, as the only U-Boat commander to have an identity and interacts with Krause through threats and gloats.
  • The Big Board: The action frequently cuts to the chart table in GREYHOUND's CIC to help viewers understand how and why the ship is maneuveringnote .
  • Book Ends: We meet Krause kneeling at his bed in prayer which he does again at the end, right before lying down for some much-needed sleep.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Averted; after a full night of action, the captain is informed they're down to only six depth charges. Krause also has to repeatedly warn the other escorts to conserve their fuel. In the book, the other escorts end up low - or entirely out - of charges.
  • Burial at Sea: When Krause's ship runs out of room for the dead from an attack, Commander Krause has to approve a burial at sea.
  • The Captain: Ernest Krause has the rank of Commander, but as GREYHOUND's CO, he has the title of Captain.
  • Central Theme: That the execution of one's duties must take precedence, even at the cost of your personal well-being. Krause forgoes meals and stays standing until his feet bleed, but he refuses to abandon his post until a superior officer bluntly orders him to take a break and get his ship repaired. In the end, he's physically broken but emotionally/spiritually sated.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Commander Krause constantly grapples with his decisions, and admits to his XO he doesn't think he's doing a good enough job, but he follows protocol and duty to the letter. Only once during the film does he tell a junior officer not to bother him with a technical matter, as that decision rests with someone else, showing he can delegate when needed.
  • Damage Control: After a surface engagement with a U-boat, Krause has a quick discussion with DICKY about their damage. DICKY reports three hits above the waterline that they say will be patched up and they'll be back in the hunt shortly. Later EAGLE takes some damage that threatens the ship itself. Her CO says they will do their best, but by morning it's clear she won't survive and they request permission to abandon ship.
  • Darkness Equals Death: Although they do attack during the day, the Wolfpack prefer to strike at night when they're less likely to be spotted on the surface. The largest number of sinkings occurs during the first night action, and the only escort ship to be sunk, EAGLE, sank during the second night when it was clear that she couldn't be salvaged.
  • The Determinator: Krause absolutely refuses to leave his command until the crisis is over, to the point that he neglects to eat and instead subsists entirely on coffee. Near the end of the film, his feet have begun to bleed from standing on them for so long. When the threat from the U-boats is over, an utterly exhausted Krause stumbles to his cabin for a well-earned rest after over 48 hours of highly-stressful naval combat.
  • Dropped-in Speech Clip: The movie begins with clips of speeches from President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill of the need, and their determination, to send supplies over the Atlantic to the front lines in Europe.
  • Due to the Dead: During an engagement with a U-boat, GREYHOUND takes a hit from the sub's deck gun. Later, Commander Krause is informed three of his crew were killed. Since they don't have room to carry bodies for any length of time, he orders an immediate burial at sea. The three bodies are draped in American flags as the crew gathers on deck, the ship slows to a stop, the bell is rung and one by one the names are read and the bodies are dropped overboard accompanied by a rifle volley salute. The event is marred slightly when the remains of Mess Mate George Cleveland, Krause's personal steward, gets caught on the flag, and has to be shaken loose.
  • Evil Gloating: Grey Wolf keeps radioing Krause to gloat about how he and the Wolfpack are going to kill them all, even making wolf howls. Each time this happens Krause has to order a frequency change as the only way to shut him up.
  • Friend or Foe?: Even though a U-boat is plainly visible on the surface, Krause has to order his gunners to stop firing at it as there's another vessel behind the U-boat in the line of fire. Moments later that vessel opens fire on them in return.
  • Forgets to Eat: Mess Steward Cleveland keeps making Krause meals and bringing them up specially, and then they'll hit another crisis and Krause won't eat a bite. Cleveland worries about Krause's well-being as a result, reminding that he won't be able to do his job at all if he collapses from exhaustion.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Anytime an officer or crewman curses in front of Krause, he gives them a look. They immediately apologize for swearing, even in the heat of battle.
  • Gunship Rescue: When the convoy is almost out of ammunition and about to be overwhelmed, aircraft from British RAF Coastal Command swoop in to bomb the U-boats.
  • Intercom Villainy: The movie never cuts to the Germans on their U-boats; instead, they're characterized only by the taunts and threats they send over the radio. The audio is distorted, only making them seem more monstrous as they mock the soldier's fallen comrades and go into detail about how their wives will move onto new lovers after the Germans kill them.
  • Ludicrous Gibs: Occurs offscreen. When Captain Krause is notified of the casualties from the hit from the U-boat's deck gun, he is told that all three men were "completely dismembered." Although the corpsmen for their best to wrap up the mutilated body parts tightly for burial, George Cleveland's mortal remains get hung up on the litter during the Burial at Sea and have to be awkwardly shaken loose by the burial detail.
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: There are four escort ships in the convoy but, on screen GREYHOUND is the only one to sink any of the attacking German subs and does so on multiple occasions. However, background radio chatter in some scenes states that the other escorts do engage U-boats when in range.
  • More Dakka: The sheer amount of fire that GREYHOUND can put down on a single target is pretty impressive for a Destroyer. Fletcher-class Destroyers had five rapid-firing 5-inch (127mm) guns, up to six 40mm Bofors mounts (totaling anywhere from six to twenty guns), multiple 20mm and .50 caliber mounts, in addition to torpedoes and dedicated ASW weapons. When focused onto a single surfaced U-Boat, this amount of firepower easily overpowers said submarine, and they don't tend to last very long.
  • Multinational Team: As expected from the Western Allies, the escorts consist of an American destroyer (GREYHOUND), a Canadian corvette (DICKIE), and two British destroyers (HARRY) and (EAGLE). The convoy itself is even more diverse, including one Greek ship.
  • Must Have Caffeine: Krause refuses to eat but has to keep drinking coffee to keep himself awake. In the book, he occasionally worries if he's a "caffeine-hound". The Navy's love of coffee is Truth in Television.
  • Nose Art: All the U-boats in the Wolfpack have sigils painted on the conning tower, the most prevalent a wolf on the conning tower of the "main antagonist" the Grey Wolf. The Coastal Command Catalina has artwork on its depth bombs.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Krause is a Reasonable Authority Figure who is fair to his crew, only demanding that two that got into a fight explain their actions, but is called to the bridge before he can mete out discipline so lets the matter drop, does not swear and doesn't allow it in his presence, is quick to give credit where it is due and perhaps more importantly does not blame his men for things that go wrong if it's out of their control, and is a devout Christian.
  • Real Men Love Jesus: Central to Krause's character is his faith and how he seeks comfort, guidance, and strength through prayer. He is a very devout Christian, although his exact denomination is never specified.
  • Red Alert: The crew is called to General Quarters repeatedly throughout the film. Usually just after Cleveland has prepared a meal for Krause.
  • Riding into the Sunset: The remaining escorts end up doing a nautical version of this at the end when they are relieved by a fresh escort squadron and ordered to rest and refit at Londonderry.
  • Rock and a Hard Place: At one point, GREYHOUND must contend with two torpedoes fired at her from two different directions, with almost no options for maneuvering.
  • Rookie Red Ranger: Despite his age, rank, and position (he's not just GREYHOUND's captain, he's also commander of the escort force), Krause is undertaking his first crossing. Many of his junior sailors have much more experience than he does.
  • Rule of Three: Cleveland brings Krause two meals that he doesn't eat. The third meal, he puts down when the ship is being shot at—and a different person brings it to Krause after the engagement is over, right before Krause is informed Cleveland was killed.
  • Sadistic Choice: At one point Krause must decide whether or not to rescue men from a burning tanker or remain in position to cover the other ships. He is able to save only four survivors, only to see an explosion in the distance as a torpedo hits one of the unprotected ships.
  • Scenery Dissonance: As the wolfpack attacks the convoy in force on the first night, the camera zooms out over the entire battle until it's over the cloud layer and we see the aurora borealis hanging quietly over the carnage below. It's one of the more haunting scenes in the movie.
  • Sensor Suspense: Everything depends on the Allied escort's SONAR and hydrophone equipment to find the U-boats when submerged and RADAR when they surfaced. Unfortunately for the former, the U-boats have new decoys they can deploy to lure the Allied escorts off target and waste ammunition. The RADAR also malfunctions early in the battle despite efforts to repair it.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Krause frequently gives the "Meet Her" command, which is rarely heard in works set on ships. The command is for the helm to use the rudder to check the swing of the ship without steadying onto a specific course (in that case, the order would be the often-heard "Steady as she goes").
    • Antisubmarine sensors, weapon systems, and tactics of 1942 are portrayed realistically, notwithstanding a "Hollywood radar" display that only appears in the trailer.
    • Morse lamps are frequently used to communicate between ships, and merchant ships that take torpedo hits fire off distress rocket signals.
    • The U-boats operate in a fairly realistic manner. They run on the surface (where they can run their Diesel engines for greater speed) at night as well as in heavy seas where they are less likely to show up on radar. They not only attack on the surface at night, but also try to do so from inside the convoy, so that any return fire from the escorts or armed merchant ships risks hitting friendly ships downrange. The U-boat that DICKIE forces to surface not only employs this tactic against the Canadian ship and GREYHOUND, but also is close enough that neither escort is able to depress their guns low enough to hit, while the Germans are able to essentially take free shots at both with their own deck gun.
  • Sneeze Interruption: The Talker (the sailor who relays messages sent via the sound-powered telephone) pauses to sneeze as they're closing in on a U-boat, and so has to ask for a message from the sonar operator to be repeated. His superior is not amused and he's warned he'll be relieved of duty if he does that again.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To the classic German U-boat drama, Das Boot. In this film, the Allied surface naval escorts are the focus of the story.
  • The Voice: The Captains of the other escort ships (and the head U-boat Captain) are only heard over the radio and never appear in person.
  • Truth in Television:
    • The U-Boat/destroyer duel. Even though this seems unrealistic due to that a destroyer would outgun a submarine, destroyer-vs-submarine duels actually did occur on one or two real-life occasions. The movie's duel, while based on an event in the book, seems to have been inspired by a real-life clash on November 1st, 1943 between USS Borie and U-405, in which the Borie tried to ram the U-Boat when a wave caused it's bow to come down on top of the U-boat, which trapped both ships. The U-boat was too close for the destroyer's guns, so the crew members had to use rifles, submachine guns, and machine guns to return fire, resulting in the sinking of U-405, while Borie was badly damaged and scuttled the following day.
      • And there was also a similar duel between HMCS Assiniboine (escorting Convoy SC 94) and U-210 on the 6th August, 1942.
      • Another similar engagement took place on April 22, 1944 when the destroyer escort USS Buckley and U-66. The two vessels rammed eachother, after which the Germans boarded the American ship. The Americans held them with bare fists, wrenches, coffee cups, and whatever else was handy (one German was knocked overboard with a thrown 3-inch shell casing) while weapons were brought up from the small arms locker. The fistfight turned to a firefight in the Americans' favor, and grenades were thrown into the conning tower of the U-boat from the deck of the DE. U-66 sank shortly afterwards, while Buckley limped home with dents in her hull, a bent prop shaft, and 36 prisoners.
  • War Is Hell: The convoy has a tough time enduring U-boat wolf pack attacks that could strike from any angle at any time in the Black Pit. After finally reaching Allied air cover on the other side, it is confirmed that of the 37 merchant ships in the convoy, 7 were sunk and two others were damaged. Only one escort ship was sunk, but the remaining three didn't come out unscathed, with all of them running low on fuel and ammunition, as well having suffered some amount of damage.
  • Wrong-Name Outburst: Krause accidentally calls Mess Mate Pitts "Cleveland" after the latter was KIA.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: As the convoy's situation gets more desperate, XO Charlie Cole begins addressing Krause as "Ernie".
  • You Don't Look Like You: In the original novel, escort ship HARRY was a Flower-class Corvette just like DICKY. In the film, HARRY was changed into a Tribal-class Destroyer and is even referred to as a British Destroyer in the captions showing the names of the other ships.

"The night cometh when no man can work."