A successful attempt at an even-handed portrayal of the White Star Line's (later part of Cunard) luxury liner R.M.S. Titanic's sinking from the standpoint of 2nd Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller, himself the most senior of the ill-fated ship's Deck Officers to survive the disaster. (Lightoller later went on to distinguish himself as a line British Naval Officer during the First World War and served as a Senior Naval Staff Officer (convoys) during WWII. Between wars he owned and operated a successful family business producing pleasure craft.) His own survival of the sinking, along with several others, is shown atop one of the liner's two "collapsible" lifeboats which was capsized in floating off the liner as it sank. The picture depicts then known facts (c1958) as reported after the sinking; such as the woeful lack of adequate lifeboats, the ship's band playing true to the very end, White Star's co-owner Bruce Ismay's somewhat less than chivalrous departure from the sinking vessel -... Written by
Walter Lord found 64 survivors in researching his book "A Night to Remember." The Rank Organisation found many more in making the film, and several visited the set, including Edith Russell, a dress designer who had with her a lucky stuffed pig that played music. During one of her many visits to the set, Miss Russell (along with her stuffed pig) had the chance to meet the actress (Teresa Thorne) who was playing her. She also had the chance to show her the stuffed pig, which was much bigger than the one used in the film. It was bequeathed to Walter Lord in her will. See more »
In some shots of struggling swimmers after the sinking several extras are wearing rubber bathing caps (they look wrinkled and reflect the lights). See more »
I am nothing short of amazed by what the filmmakers pulled off. Before I saw this movie, I tried to write a script that would encompass the whole story of the Titanic. I had stacks of Titanic books scattered around me, a huge map of the Titanic spread out in front of me, and I was overwhelmed by the sheer mountain of anecdotes and facts and technical details and contradictions in survivors' accounts. Reconstructing the event seemed impossible, and finally I abandoned the project by the time I got to about 1:30. Then I saw A Night to Remember, and wouldn't you know, it was exactly what I was trying to do! Kenneth More's portrayal of Lightoller is perfect. Laurence Naismith is heartbreaking as Captain Smith. The factual, historical, and technical detail is so thorough that this may be the most meticulous historical movie ever made -- certainly that I have ever seen. Somehow the stark black-and-white cinematrography is more realistically convincing than James Cameron's full-color treatment, in which things are inexplicably blue. The thing that disappointed me the most about Cameron's film was the lack of reverence for the historical characters. Lightoller, my personal hero, came off as an cowardly twit, Captain Smith as an incompetent fool, Ismay as the force of all evil in the universe, and Benjamin Guggenheim's change into evening ware as an excuse to get drunk! A Night to Remember had that reverence that was so sorely lacking in Cameron's film. Lightoller is portrayed as the hero that he was. Captain Smith is a fine captain who is understandably ovewhelmed by the magnitude of the tragedy facing him. Ismay is irritating, but tries to help out and be a responsible president -- and when he jumps into the lifeboat, well, would any of us do different? And Guggenheim's final stand brings tears to the eyes. The drama of the Carpathia is as exciting as any fictional Hollywood action film. This is the only Titanic movie that addresses the problem of the Californian, and though Lordites will object to the rather anti-Lord portrayal of the events, the facts speak for themselves. If you want to be picky, you can complain that the movie doesn't go into the politics behind building the Olympic and Titanic, or the near-collision with the New York, or lots of the little personal stories, but let's be fair: the movie has two hours to tell the story of, as Walter Lord put it, "the death of a small town." It's simply not possible for a movie, or even a really thick book, to cover everything. I don't think it's possible for a better movie to be made about the Titanic than A Night to Remember.
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