By Barb Arland-Fye
The Catholic Messenger
A recent review of the movie “Greyhound” in a Persons, places and things column on this page prompted reader John Conway and a few others to share some thoughts.
Conway, a member of St. Joseph Parish in Wellman, wrote, “I very much enjoyed your review of the movie ‘Greyhound’ in this week’s Messenger. You didn’t mention it in the review by name, but the book the movie is based on is ‘The Good Shepherd,’ by C.S. Forester.”
“Forester is one of my all-time favorite authors. As a youngster, I devoured all the books in the ‘Hornblower’ series, about a self-doubting young man (Horatio Hornblower) who goes to sea with the British Royal Navy in the days of the great sailing ships. This book, ‘The Good Shepherd,’ was written fairly late in Forester’s writing career, and one of the stand-out things about it is the staunch faith of the hero, Captain Krause. None of Forester’s earlier books shows this type of reliance on a faith in an all-powerful God. The various heroes, Horatio Hornblower most notably, try constantly to improve by throwing themselves into their tasks and learning all they can learn about their craft, which most often is warfare, but also includes the incredibly complex sciences of ship handling and weather in the heartless sea.”
“Captain Krause shows a deep respect and acknowledgement of his fellow shipmates, and he has to develop a difficult hardness of resolve when the sea-borne conflicts turn mortal. My interpretation of this is that Forester late in life came to see that there really is no personal peace in totally relying upon one’s self for the most difficult of life’s vicissitudes…. The character of ‘The Good Shepherd’ is exactly what Captain Krause saw as his mission.”
Conway noted that Forester “also wrote ‘The African Queen,’ which was made into a fabulous movie with Humphrey Bogart and Kathryn Hepburn. When (my future wife) Cathy came to Iowa State in 1967, I had the chance to renew our acquaintanceship made a few years earlier. Both of our dads worked in the same fertilizer company. We ‘hit it off’ splendidly and by the start of 1968 were pretty much ‘going steady.’”
“For a Saturday night date, I took her to the theater in ‘Dogtown,’ the campus business area, to watch the movie. On the walk back to her dorm afterwards, she told me how much she related to the role that Hepburn played in the movie. I thought, ‘this is the girl for me!’ We refer to that production as ‘Our Movie.’ Eternal thanks to Mr. Forester!”
Historian Tim Walch, a member of St. Thomas More Parish in Coralville and of The Catholic Messenger’s Board of Directors, enjoyed the Messenger’s take on Greyhound.
He and his wife Vicki appreciated the column for weighing in with a faith-based perspective.
Later, after watching Greyhound, Walch said, “Vicki and I had different reactions to the film. She found the combat scenes hard to follow, filled with a lot of naval dialogue. That same dialogue captivated me, as if I was on the bridge with the captain and sensing peril and courage. Both of us were impressed by the value that prayer offered to the captain in a time of sorrow and loss. In the end, we were both glad to see the film.”
Mike Couch, a member of Our Lady of the River Parish in LeClaire, also wrote after reading the column about Greyhound. The column referenced burial at sea depicted in the movie, which stirred a memory for Couch.
A scanned photo accompanied his email. He wrote, “The attached picture is a photo of a WWII burial at sea conducted on the USS Franklin. The priest conducting the burial is my uncle, Chaplain Edward J. Harkin of the Des Moines Diocese.”
“Father Harkin is wearing a white surplus positioned at the head of the first flag-draped sailor. It appears that one sailor has already been entombed in the ocean while one more sailor and a marine are yet to be entombed. Pretty sobering.”