3 April 2008 | rgaebler
Mamet got it dead on!
Haven't seen the movie, but saw the play at the Goodman in Chicago years ago. Mamet was uncannily on target; I felt he knew my old crew mates inside and out. Other comments seem to evaluate the movie as entertainment or what they expect of Mamet, or some other side issue. How about evaluating it as TRUTH?! The lakeboats are all gone now. The Mesabi iron ore range in Minnesota is played out and South American steel has virtually killed the US steel industry. The ore boats no longer ply the lakes, and the last one, the Mather, is now a floating museum docked at Cleveland.
So the play catches a piece of American history recorded nowhere else. All that foul language; yep, it's right on! Don't like it? Then you don't like telling it like it is! (Pardon -- like it WAS!). Perhaps the movie has it's faults; I hear they forgot the delay between an engine room signal and the reply/confirmation. But reviewers who focus on the entertainment quality of the movie miss the point: it should be viewed as LIVING HISTORY!! (Alas, of an era now totally dead and gone).
In the Summer of 1950, fresh out of high school, I shipped out as a deckhand on the Samuel F. B. Morse one of the last wooden hatch boats, but got fired the next week because I was to weak to handle the huge wooden hatches. Later I shipped out September 6, 1950, on the Presque Isle, on a run from Cleveland to Escanaba, and stayed for the Fall months. The next Summer is was deckwatch on the James A Farrell.
It's all gone now, and David Mamet's play is the only record I've ever seen of what crew life was really like. Found the movie/play boring? crude? tedious? Right; now you know what life on the lakeboats was really like!!!