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Robert Z. Leonard
Unhappily married and uncomfortable with life among the British upper crust, Julia Sturges takes her two children and boards the Titanic for America. Her husband Richard also arranges passage on the doomed luxury liner in order to let him have custody of their two children. Their problems soon seem minor when the ship hits an iceberg. Written by
Daniel Bubbeo <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The filming of the disaster had a powerful effect on Barbara Stanwyck, who recalled: "The night we were making the scene of the dying ship in the outdoor tank at Twentieth, it was bitter cold. I was 47 feet up in the air in a lifeboat swinging on the davits. The water below was agitated into a heavy rolling mass and it was thick with other lifeboats full of women and children. I looked down and thought: If one of these ropes snaps now, it's goodbye for you. Then I looked up at the faces lined along the rail - those left behind to die with the ship. I thought of the men and women who had been through this thing in our time. We were re-creating an actual tragedy and I burst into tears. I shook with great racking sobs and couldn't stop." See more »
Early scenes during the sinking show the engineering areas experiencing severe listing, whilst the lounge where passengers are playing cards has no tilt whatsoever. As the ship was not made of rubber, the tilt must have been the same. See more »
If you're unfamiliar with Clifton Webb (3 Oscar nominations, 1 Golden Globe award -- all for other work) just think Campbell Scott and you'll not be far off. Webb carries this film. but Ms Stanwyck as his wife, and Robert Wagner and Audrey Dalton as the young couple are all remarkably good. Stanwyck is rarely this on, imhb.
The set up is all about the people, not the ship, and it works because when the iceberg strikes, it's as if we never saw it coming, and now these good folk mean the world to us.
The pacing is superb, and I can assure you that you will wish the film were longer. Never mind the barely adequate sets: they don't slow or offset the action. The B&W photography is strangely modern in the ratio of closeups to long-shots. At least enough of the crowd is constantly moving and filling the screen expertly for us not to notice that the camera is usually stationary.
This film was unusually successful on television. It was one of the first of those shown in the late 50's when the networks began showing prime time full length feature films of fairly recent vintage on weekend nights. It was an event. Who knew television could entertain showing prime time movies?
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