Young Woman and the Sea

Young Woman and the Sea

Posted on May 30, 2024 at 3:34 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for thematic elements, some language and partial nudity
Profanity: Some mild language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Drinks in a bar
Violence/ Scariness: Some danger and scary moments
Diversity Issues: A theme of the movie
Date Released to Theaters: May 31, 2024
Copyright 2024 Disney

In 1926, an American woman barely out of her teens not only became the first woman to swim across the legendarily treacherous English Channel that separates the UK and France; she also beat the world’s record for the swim by two hours. Two million people showed up at the parade celebrating her return to New York. “Young Woman and the Sea,” based on the book by Glenn Stout, Young Woman And The Sea: How Trudy Ederle Conquered the English Channel and Inspired the World, Disney has produced a film that tells her story. It is old-fashioned in the best sense, a straightforward story of a woman of extraordinary spirit and ability overcoming obstacles to achieve her dream.

She seems an unlikely world champion when we first see her, a young girl with a bad case of the measles in the early 20th century. Her doctor believes she will not last the night. But she survives and thrives. She was born in 1905 and in those days it was unusual for a girl to participate in competitive sports, or indeed in any athletic activity. In particular, those like Trudy (as a child played by Olive Abercrombie), who had survived measles, were considered especially fragile. Her father (, a butcher who immigrated from German, has very traditional values and refuses to let his two daughters learn to swim. But their mother (a lovely performance by Jeanette Hain) has her own reasons for insisting.

But Trudy is relentless, and finds a way to annoy her father so thoroughly he gives up and agrees. Again, though, he protests when their mother wants them to join a swim team, and again he has to give in. The coach (Sian Clifford as Lottie Epstein) accepts Trudy’s sister, Meg (Tilda Cobham-Hervey), but agrees only to let Trudy swim after training hours, if she also agrees to shovel the coal for the boiler.

Once Trudy (Daisy Ridley, who also co-produced) gets a chance to show what she can do, she joins the team and beats Australian swimming star and future movie actress Annette Kellerman (whose life story starred Esther Williams in “Million Dollar Mermaid”). She competes in the first Olympics that had a women’s swim team (the head of the American Olympic Committee and the Amateur Athletic Union, James E. Sullivan, played here by Glenn Fleshler) had previously blocked it. Sullivan insisted that the women’s team had to stay in their rooms for the entire Atlantic crossing, with nuns posted outside their doors to ensure their “protection.”

And then, she decides to swim the Channel. As we see in newsreels of the era, it was a world-wide news story when anyone succeeded. She gets reluctant support from Sullivan, who insists on replacing Epstein as her coach with a man who failed in his own attempt to swim the Channel a dozen times.

Ridley is lovely as Trudy, her tender relationship with her sister, her resilience, her determination, and her kindness. If you get a chance, see this on the big screen; the cinematography by Oscar Fuera is outstanding, whether in the grimy streets of New York or the vast expanse and turbulent waves of the Channel. The family scenes are warm-hearted, even in the struggles and disagreements. Colorful characters include Clifford and Fleshler along with an irascible successful Channel swimmer played by Stephen Graham, and an NBC radio announcer.

This movie could be called traditional or formulaic, but it is sincere and thoughtfully made, a good reminder of the importance of dreams, of heroes, and of stories that share them with us.

Parents should know that this film includes a child who is seriously ill (but recovers), family stress, a character who is not able to marry the person she loves due to family pressure, and a swim with a jellyfish attack and other dangers. A character is drugged. Some characters drink alcohol.

Family discussion: What made Trudy different? Why was she so determined? Why didn’t some people want her to succeed? What worried her parents most?

If you like this, try: “Million Dollar Mermaid,” “Queen of Katwe,” and “Wild Hearts Can’t be Broken”

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Free eBook: Deadly Skies, the Story of WWII Air Combat

Free eBook: Deadly Skies, the Story of WWII Air Combat

Posted on May 24, 2024 at 7:28 am

The Deadly Skies is free May 24-28 for Memorial Day. This ebook tells the history of air combat in Europe during WWII is grippingly described by a man who was there and who has had decades of experience and research to put his experiences in perspective. Focusing on the Royal Air Force, the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force and the Luftwaffe, the book covers how the WW II air campaign in Western Europe unfolded, how it ended, and its cost in terms of human life – not only for the aircrews in those unfriendly skies, but the innumerable innocents who suffered through the carnage in European cities caused by bombing. 

The aircraft and equipment, the battles, the strategy, and the people are all described by Bernard Nolan with the insight of an insider and the expertise of a scholar, and with detailed illustrations from aviation artist Matt Holness. From Dunkirk and the Battle of Britain to D-Day, B-17s, B-24s, P-47s, P-51s, and Spitfires, this book takes the reader inside the air battles that played a decisive role in WWII. 

Chapters sections include:

The Bomber Will Always Get Through,

The Schneider Trophy,

Aluminum Cages

The Messerschmitt Bf 109,


London Bound

Unternehmen Seeloeven (Operation Sea Lion),

Adlerangriff (Eagle Offensive), Chain Home Radar System,

Adlertag (Eagle Day), Bombs Fall On London,

Goering Blinks,

The Hardest Day, 


Hitler “Postpones” The Invasion
The Battle Of Britain Ends,

RAF Bomber Command,

The Butt Study,

The Casablanca Conference,

Happy Valley,

The Dam Busters, 

The Battle Of Berlin,


The Norden Bombsight,


The B-24,

The Fw 190,


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Free This Weekend: The Only Oral History of Black Soldiers in Korea

Free This Weekend: The Only Oral History of Black Soldiers in Korea

Posted on May 24, 2024 at 7:19 am

To honor our veterans this weekend, John Holway’s oral history ebook, Bloody Ground: Black Rifles in Korea, is available at no cost May 24-28, 2024.

Copyright 2014 Miniver Press

Korea is “the forgotten war.” But to those who fought in it, it was the “unforgettable war.” If the names of all those killed were put on a wall, it would be larger than the Vietnam Wall. And Korea lasted only three years, Vietnam about ten. The agony of the winter of 1950-51 is an epic to compare with Valley Forge and the Bulge. Holway writes:

Korea was also our last segregated war. This is the story of the black 24th Infantry Regiment, told in the words of the men themselves. Like all black troops since the Civil War, they were reviled by whites and their own commander for “bugging out” – running before the enemy. The charge can still be read in the Army’s own official histories. Yet the 24th left more blood on the field than their white comrades – if they did bug out, they must have been running the wrong way.

It’s a good thing we weren’t with Custer,” one black GI muttered – “they’d have blamed the whole thing on us.”

The 24th won the first battle of the war, won its division’s first Medal of Honor, and guarded the shortest and most vulnerable road to Pusan. If the port had fallen, the war would have been lost, leaving a red dagger pointed at Japan. It did not fall.

That winter, after the Chinese attacked, the entire American army bugged out in perhaps the worst military disaster in American history. “That,” said another black veteran, “was when I learned that whites could run as fast as blacks.”

This is the story of those unsung heroes, who helped turn the Communist tide for the first time. The men bring that forgotten war and their own unsung bravery to life in their own sometimes funny, often heart-breaking, and always exciting words.

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Memorial Day 2024: Movies to Pay Tribute to Our Troops

Memorial Day 2024: Movies to Pay Tribute to Our Troops

Posted on May 23, 2024 at 7:14 am

Copyright 1987 Tristar

Memorial Day is more than the beginning of summer; it is a day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. I hope you can take some time over the weekend to think of those we have lost. Some movies to pay your respects:

The Outpost was on my top ten list for 2020, a movie that was sadly overlooked because it came out in the early weeks of the pandemic shutdown. It is based on the book by Jake Tapper. There are war stories that are about strategy and courage and triumph over evil that let us channel the heroism of the characters on screen. And then there are war stories that are all of that but also engage in the most visceral terms with questions of purpose and meaning that touch us all. “The Outpost” is that rare film in the second category, an intimate, immersive drama from director Rod Lurie, a West Point graduate and Army veteran who knows this world inside out and brings us from the outside in.

The Blue Angels Glen Powell, who played a pilot in “Top Gun: Maverick” and “Devotion” is also a real-life pilot who has flown with “the best of the best,” the Navy’s Blue Angels. He produced this documentary that takes us behind the scenes and into the sky, even “inverted” (upside down!) with the Blues.

Gardens of Stone James Caan and James Earl Jones star in a film about the 1st Battalion 3d Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) at Fort Myer, Virginia, the U.S. Army’s Honor Guard. They conduct the funerals of fallen soldiers and guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery. Francis Ford Coppola directed this touching, elegiac story.

Taking Chance An officer (Kevin Bacon) escorts the body of a young Marine killed in Iraq. Each stop along the way is meaningful.

Mr. Roberts is a WWII story about a Navy cargo ship, based on the experiences of author Thomas Heggen. Henry Fonda stars in the title role or an executive officer who tries to protect the men from a tyrannical captain. Broadway, and the outstanding cast includes William Powell, James Cagney, and Oscar-winner Jack Lemmon.

Band of Brothers is the extraordinary series from Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks about ordinary men who came together to do extraordinary things as soldiers in Easy Company in WWII.

Red Tails is the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the legendary heroes who risked their lives for a country that did its best to hold them back.

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Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga

Posted on May 22, 2024 at 5:51 pm

B +
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating: Rated R for sequences of strong violence, and grisly images
Profanity: Strong language
Alcohol/ Drugs: Some substance use
Violence/ Scariness: Constant peril and violence, torture, guns, knives, fire, characters injured and killed, disturbing, graphic, and grisly images
Diversity Issues: None
Date Released to Theaters: May 24, 2024

It is always a thrill to enter George Miller’s dystopian vision, now approaching the half century mark of eye-popping design and heart-in-the-throat action. The first “Mad Max” film premiered in 1979, and it was like nothing we had seen before. Mel Gibson had the title role as a cop turned warrior in a post-apocalyptic world of brutal savagery, humans almost feral, with survival the only goal. The films borrow themes from classic genres, myths, knights and chivalry, wasterns, even sci-fi, but they build on those themes like the characters build massive machines out of junk piles. This series creates something new, enthralling, terrifying, dark and disturbing cautionary tales but with a glimmer of humanity.

The fifth in the series is both sequel and prequel. “Fury Road” is a transition from the original Mad Max character, Tom Hardy taking over for Gibson, to a new character, Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron. Furiosa, with a mechanical prosthetic arm, is a warrior as fierce as her name. In “Fury Road” she is trying to rescue young women from a harem/breeding farm under the control of Immortan Joe (originally played by the late Hugh Keays-Byrne, in this chapter played by Lachy Hulme).

While the last film spanned just three days, this one tells us the story of Furiosa from childhood to what appears to be her mid-20s. We first see the young Furiosa (played by a very compelling Alyla Browne), reaching up to pick fruit from a tree and about to pick a second one for another girl, perhaps her sister. This is more than a Biblical metaphor. The tree is in a small, Edenic green space in the midst of the devastated, parched desert world we know from the earlier films. That means it must be kept secret.

Though she is very young, Furiosa knows what to do when intruders approach. She tells her companion to be invisible and she races off to cut the fuel lines of their motorbikes. The intruders grab Furiosa. Her mother chases them, on horseback the first of a series of catch-your-breath chase scenes. Eventually, Furiosa is adopted by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the leader of the gang that snatched her.

Dementus is a charismatic but volatile leader. He wears a billowy white parachute and has a small stuffed bear, a relic of his ruined life. He calls her his daughter and lets her hold the stuffed bear that belonged to his children. He tells Furiosa she does not have to look as he tortures her mother. But her gaze is steady.

For a movie that is always hurtling between three major outposts, with different factions battling each other for the scarce resources, gas, water, and ammunition, it takes its time getting us to Anya Taylor-Johnson as the adult Furiosa. She is an ever scarcer resource; she is healthy, and there is a moment when she is placed with the harem, with the thought that she might be able to produce a healthy baby. She escapes and finds a way to work as a mechanic and later riding shotgun on the gas tanker, driven by Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke).

This edition is more of an origin story than the others, which centered on characters who were already fully formed. There is less focus on the way that the scarcity of the resources that give weight to the stakes. But these are relatively minor points when the screen is all but exploding with intense action and mesmerizing visuals. Every detail of Miller’s world (with the help of Production Designer Colin Gibson) is intricate and meaningful. Jenny Beaven’s costumes define the characters and show us the defects and disabilities that are the result of their deprivations and depraved sensibility. The details also show us how parched the world is, not just the aridity of the desert landscape but the absence of any capacity for progress, any thought beyond what can be obtained and who can be vanquished as quickly as possible.

That means many chases, and no one is better at making us lean forward to watch than Miller. Those scenes are a lesson in timing, camera placement, and editing (by Margaret Sixel, married to Miller, and Eliot Knapman). They crackle with energy and excitement. And a scene near the end with Furiosa and Dementus is almost Shakespearean in its scope, is beautifully performed by Hemsworth and Taylor-Joy. Miller is an extraordinary film and this series continues to be powerful and provocative.

Parents should know that this is an extremely violent movie with many characters injured, tortured, and killed and many grisly and disturbing images. A child sees her mother murdered. Characters use strong language.

Family discussion: What makes Furiosa different? Do you think the story Furiosa told about what happened at the end is true?

If you like this, try; the other Mad Max movies

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