The Sea Empress Theater: Titanic Movies — There were five
This introduction to the story of the Titanic is a contemporary production by the Discovery Channel.
The first of the Titanic movies appeared in 1912, ‘Saved from the Titanic” and starred Dorothy Gibson, who was on the Titanic with her mother and both survived. Gibson and her mother boarded lifeboat #7, a lucky number for those in that lifeboat, but then again, those in Lifeboat #13 always considered that to be their lucky number too.
Gibson was a top actress of the day was one of the best-paid actresses at the time. Her career spanned several decades until she was captured by the Nazi’s in Italy in 1943 and imprisoned in a concentration camp, which she survived. She died not long after the end of WWII.
The second Titanic movie was produced by the Nazi’s as a propaganda film directed at the British. The movie appeared only in Nazi-occupied France. This film is seen occasionally on the History Channel. Footage of this film was used in the fourth Titanic film, A Night To Remember – which is the most historically accurate of them all, based on Walter Lord’s book.
The third Titanic movie, “Titanic” starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Wagner premiered in 1953.
Moving and Exciting Drama of the Sinking of the Titanic Comes to the Roxy Screen
Although maritime disasters are not unique as film fare, Twentieth Century-Fox, abetted by an obviously excellent research staff, a fine cast, and a polished script, has fashioned a sometimes moving and often exciting drama from the ill-fated maiden voyage of the Titanic. For the newcomer of that title, which arrived at the Roxy yesterday, could have leaned heavily on mawkish sentimentality and the smug conclusions of hindsight but avoided such hackneyed procedures to dwell only on the luxury liner’s trip, as based on known facts, and some of its imaginary and real passengers and crew. As a dramatization of a historic tragedy “Titanic” is adult and restrained about fiction, heroism, and history.
The screenplay turned in by Charles Brackett (who also produced), Walter Reisch and Richard Breen, is, perhaps, a mite garrulous at first and shows strong evidence of the “Grand Hotel” format. And while the personal problems of some of the principals are as much a highlight of “Titanic” as the actual collision and sinking, it is to the writers’ credit that they are presented as multi-dimensional people, who conceivably could have been aboard on that fateful April 15, 1912.
Among them are Clifton Webb, dapper, social leader, who has wangled his way into the third class in a last-minute effort to stop his wife, Barbara Stanwyck, disenchanted with European spas and society, and their 18-year-old daughter and 13-year-old son, who are leaving him. There are also Brian Aherne, the bearded, veteran skipper, sedate but proud of his 60,000-ton “unsinkable” vessel and its more than 2,000 noted and nameless passengers: Richard Basehart, an unfrocked priest drowning his torment in whisky; Thelma Ritter, a brash and wealthy Montana mine owner; Allyn Joslyn, an overweening social climber; Robert Wagner, a Purdue athlete in love with Barbara Stanwyck’s snobbish daughter and a varied complement of illustrious names and crew members. MORE
A Night to Remember in 1958 included many of the stories of the survivors as the author, Walter Lord, interviewed as many as fifty of those still alive when he wrote his book. This movie is well regarded as the best telling of the disaster.
James Cameron’s Titanic in 1997 continues to be the benchmark for many today though the main characters of Jack & Rose are fictional, however, they typify the love stories that undoubtedly took place on the ship and live on in the hearts and minds touched by the production.