A movie that was shot in Mobile and tells the story of one of the greatest survival tales of World War II opens in theaters on Friday. Nov. 11, which is Veterans Day.
The film will also be available on some pay-per-view platforms.
“USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” is a fictionalized account of the crew of the USS Indianapolis, which was one of the fastest ships in the U.S. Navy during World War II. It was used in every major U.S. campaign in the Pacific. The ship was on a secret mission when it was attacked by the Japanese. The crew that survived the attack were stranded in the Pacific for days and faced several life-threatening issues, including attacks from sharks.
The movie was directed by Mario Van Peebles (”New Jack City”) and it stars Nicolas Cage, Thomas Jane and Tom Sizemore.
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One of the ship’s crew members in the film may look familiar to South Mississippians.
Johnny Crane, principal at Temple Christian Academy and assistant pastor at Temple Baptist Church in Gulfport, was cast as an extra.
In an article in July 2015 in the Sun Herald, Crane said he knew the story of the doomed ship quite well.
“My grandfather, Granville S. Crane of Gulfport, joined the Navy at 16,” Crane said. “His mother lied and said he was 17 and he was on the USS Indianapolis the day it was attacked.”
According to Crane, the Manhattan Project, which produced the first atomic bombs, had been completed and the ship, unbeknownst to the crew, had been loaded with the components of an atomic bomb – Little Boy, the bomb that would later be dropped on Hiroshima. Crane said his grandfather and the rest of the crew of approximately 1,200 set off on a mission from which only about 315 would survive.
“On the way back to join its fleet, the ship was spotted by a submarine and it was submerged in 12 minutes,” he said. “This was July 30, 1945, and the survivors, including my grandfather, were in the water for five days and five nights before they were rescued.”
After surviving the shark-infested waters for five days, Granville Crane was rescued, although he was unconscious and would remain so for several days. Crane said his grandfather lost his arm during the ordeal.
“He has never told us how he lost his arm,” he said. “He also never really talked about his experience on the USS Indianapolis until the 1980s.”
Once Crane found out a film about the USS Indianapolis was shooting in Mobile, he said he contacted someone connected with the movie and he was offered the role of an extra.
“To be clear, I am not playing my grandfather in the film,” Crane said. “I’m playing an extra aboard the ship.”