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Titanic (1953) Poster

(1953)

Trivia

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."
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During the boarding of the lifeboats, Norman changes seats with a woman who arrives at the last moment when the boat was completely full. This was inspired by the action of a Mexican passenger in first class named Manuel Uruchurtu, who did the same thing to a woman from second class who was refused a seat on the lifeboat. After he gave up his seat to her, he asked her to travel to Mexico, if she survived, and tell his wife what happened. His body was never found.
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Opening credits prologue: All navigational details of this film --- conversations, incidents and general data --- are taken verbatim from the published reports of inquiries held in 1912 by the Congress of the United States and the British Board of Trade.
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To ensure authenticity, the producers recruited a former captain of the Queen Elizabeth as a technical consultant, and no background music was played during the feature film. The only music heard was that of the musicians aboard the ship.
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Some of the original survivors of the RMS Titanic were invited to a tear-filled special screening of the film in New York.
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The character Maude Young, portrayed in this motion picture by Thelma Ritter, was obviously based upon Mrs. J.J. "Unsinkable Molly" Brown of Denver, Colorado. Even though the actual names of some of the other passengers were used in the film, Mrs. Brown's name was not. It has been suggested that there was some dispute between 20th Century Fox and the Brown estate over the use of Molly Brown's character. Therefore, Molly Brown of the Denver, Colorado gold silver mining fortune became, for this motion picture, Maude Young of Montana lead mining.
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Many of the sets (including the ship model) were reused for several other films after this such as Dangerous Crossing (1953) and in particular the dining room, cabins, grand staircase, lounge, radio room, boat deck, promenade deck and the deck chairs. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) used the ship model (remodified), the dining room walls, the lounge, the promenade deck, and the deck chairs again. A Blueprint for Murder (1953) the ship model (remodified), the dining room, promenade deck and deck chairs were all reused again. Then finally in Woman's World (1954), which also starred Clifton Webb only the dining room walls were used. The ship model is displayed at the Marine Museum of Fall River in Fall River, Massachusetts.
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Walter Reisch said he came up with the Titanic idea and pitched Clifton Webb as one of the 25 multi-millionaires who perished on the doomed ship. He said the film would be "60 percent truth, completely documentary" drawing on real-life accounts. A role was written for Thelma Ritter. Reisch also said it was Richard Breen's idea to have an alcoholic priest.
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The poem that Julia Sturges recites to Gifford Rogers is "When I Was One-and-Twenty", number XIII by A.E. Housman from his book "A Shropshire Lad".
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Of all the movies Barbara Stanwyck appeared in, Titanic (1953) was the only one to win an Oscar (for Best Screenplay).
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Michael Rennie has an uncredited voiceover as the End Narrator of the film in the last scene in which the Titanic sinks. His end narration is as follows: "Thus, on April the 15th, Nineteen Hundred and Twelve, at 0220 hours, as the passengers and crew sang a Welsh hymn, RMS Titanic passed from the British registry. Seven hundred and twelve people in 19 lifeboats survived." Michael Rennie would later guest star as Captain Smith of the Titanic in the premiere episode of Irwin Allen's television series The Time Tunnel (1966), "Rendezvous with Yesterday", which also used some footage and sets from this film, that aired on September 9, 1966.
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American author Morgan Robertson published a novella titled "The Wreck of the Titan" (1898). It is a fictional story about a large passenger liner that struck an iceberg while sailing in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Coincidentally, the storyline in Robertson's book contains striking resemblances to the events of the RMS Titanic, despite it being written 14 years earlier.
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Edmund Purdom's debut cinematic appearance (uncredited, as Second Officer Charles Lightoller). He later voiced a character in the animated film Titanic - La leggenda continua (2000).
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For decades after this film's release, 20th Century-Fox licensed outtakes from the sequence depicting the ship's sinking as "stock footage." Head and tail trim from this footage clarifies that it wasn't just the Titanic itself that was portrayed by a scale model - the lifeboats in the foreground were miniatures as well, dwarfed by film technicians wearing waders, who moved them back into position between takes. One of the sinking outtakes can be seen in the documentary film Secrets of the Titanic (1986), in which it is played after some clips from the E.A. Dupont film Atlantic (1929).
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Barbara Stanwyck and Bert Stevens (who plays one of the passengers) were real-life sister and brother.
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The epic Titanic (1997) was also produced by 20th Century Fox and both films were the only films about the Titanic to receive Oscars. This one received only Best Screenplay award while James Cameron's film won 11 Oscars including Best Picture. Ironically, the 1997 film was not nominated for Best Screenplay.
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Audrey Dalton commented that Barbara Stanwyck was very good to her, highlighting how Stanwyck helped her in a scene where the two of them walked out of the dining room in a long shot. Stanwyck was very thin while Dalton was fuller in the hips, and their contrasting figures looked awkward in the shot. So Stanwyck worked out with the director where she would extend her arm around Dalton's shoulder as they walked away, hiding Dalton's backside behind Stanwyck's gown.
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None of the Olympic class ships (of which the Titanic was the second) had double height public rooms as portrayed in the film. All public rooms were single height to save construction costs.
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Jean Negulesco's last black-and-white feature.
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Audrey Dalton related some of the on-set pranks played on her. One was that crew members would sneakily tap her with a long stick, withdrawing it before she could tell what was going on. They patiently waited until she mentioned this to someone, who told her it was due to static electricity and she should wear a long leather belt that trailed to the set floor to ground her. She reported wearing the belt for a week or two before the crew exposed the trick. Another prank took place on the cabin set. They had rehearsed a scene where she flounced out of the scene through a door into a partial bathroom set. On the first filmed take, when she came through a door into the bathroom set she found cameraman Joe McDonald sitting on the toilet, reading a newspaper. Of course, a camera crew was also present to record her startled reaction.
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Frances Bergen's debut cinematic appearance.
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The bridge of the RMS Titanic seen on the poster is inaccurately depicted, showing a design similar to the RMS Queen Mary.
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When Walter Lord began writing his Titanic novel "A Night to Remember" (1954), he was able to find some of the survivors of the sinking through acquaintances of his at 20th Century Fox. Many of the survivors were at the New York premiere of the film and their addresses were forwarded to Lord who interviewed them from the book. "A Night to Remember" itself would be adapted twice as a film. One would be as a television movie for Kraft Theater in the United States in 1956 and another as a main feature for the Rank Organization in England in 1958.
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Richard uses the word "regrets" in two major scenes of the film. Near the beginning, when he and Julia are bitterly arguing at their table in the Titanic's dining room, Richard says to Julia, "Don't think I haven't had my share of regrets." Near the film's ending, when Richard and Julia have reconciled and are tearfully saying goodbye to each other as Richard helps Julia into a lifeboat, he says "We have no time to catalog our regrets, all we can do is pretend twenty years didn't happen." when Julia apologizes to him for their estrangement.
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