An unhappily married couple struggle to deal with their problems while on board the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic.An unhappily married couple struggle to deal with their problems while on board the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic.An unhappily married couple struggle to deal with their problems while on board the luxurious, ill-fated RMS Titanic.
Many decades before James Cameron delivered Titanic as a disaster movie with a dramatic relationship at its core, someone else had already done it with this 1953 disaster melodrama. The main difference in the narrative is perhaps a note on the difference with our time because the story is not about romantically intertwined young people but rather an older married couple and their romance. Aside from this difference the approach is similar because the majority of the film is a melodrama driven by the characters, which then is fitted into the bigger drama of the ship sinking, taking many with it. Unlike the effects-heavy modern version, this film puts the focus on the family drama happening.
This works well in making for an engaging film as we see the very English Richard clashing (in an English way) with the more modern Julia in their relationship. Of course it all comes good in the end (well, in a way) but up till then this centre-piece held my attention well. The emotion during the actual sinking of the ship is well received as well, it is restrained and very much the stiff-upper-lip type of thing of the period. Compared to the manipulative use of music and sweeping expressions of emotions in the remake, I must admit I found the changes in the characters played out with restrained emotions of the disaster. The cast work well with this. Webb is strong in his character, retaining what makes the man while also softening towards the end. Stanwyck does likewise, convincing in her early character but yet able to find the love inside her character from the past. The rest of the cast are solid enough but do not really have the same material as the two leads; Dalton, Aherne, Wagner, Basehart and others are all good enough for what is asked of them and, as normal, Ritter is entertaining in her usual character.
Overall then, an engaging melodrama that maintains a very British sense of emotion but yet is still quite moving. Those who have not yet seen the remake for what it is should perhaps take a pass at this and see if they prefer this version for being shorter and more restrained.
- bob the moo
- Oct 14, 2007