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A Night to Remember (1958)

This discussion on "A Night to Remember (1958)" is in the Titanic Movies section; There's room I think for both. ANTR satisfies the likes of us. Titanic '97 satisfies ...

      
   
  1. #21
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    There's room I think for both. ANTR satisfies the likes of us. Titanic '97 satisfies the average movie-goer. The real losers are the films that don't make the grade in either camp. No names mentioned!

    Sandy, Cameron was keen to emphasize the great distinction between the sunlit uplands of 1st Class and the Nether World to be found at deeper levels, both of society and of the ship. Thus Jack and Rose. And curiously he might have been influenced in this by ANTR. He has acknowledged that he is a great admirer of the earlier film and of its producer Bill MacQuitty: "Allow me to take this opportunity to express my thanks, as your vision to create the film 'A Night to Remember' has had a ripple effect though modern culture, manifesting itself most recently in my own film 'Titanic', inspired in part by your film." And when MacQuitty set out to promote ANTR to the execs of the Rank Organisation back in the '50s one of his main selling points was that he intended to stress the social divisions of the time as exemplified by the Class system within the ship. Another was that (with Titanic '53 in mind) he didn't want the film to be seen as a vehicle for star performances or romantic melodrama - well, Cameron did say he was only partly inspired by the result!

  2. #22
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    Bob, one thing that should be pointed out here for those who don't know - Cameron's admiration for ANTR extended to purchasing its remake rights. His "direct steals" from ANTR - and they are most definitely there - stem from the absolute legal right to do so.

    I think Cameron missed some good nuance with J.J. Astor and wife Madeleine. Madeleine Astor was J.J.'s second wife, whom he married after a most scandalous divorce. Divorce was only just possible then, and one was expected not to re-marry. J.J.'s flouting of that rule is the scandal to which Rose refers while giving Jack the low-down on the fine folks in First Class. J.J.'s friendship with Margaret Brown (which was real, and which pre-dated the Titanic's sailing) was one measure of how far he'd fallen socially; Mrs. Brown was not ordinarily all that welcome in what was referred to as "best society" of the time. J.J. seems to have determined to set his own course after his divorce, paying less attention to what was "done" and "not done." I do question Cameron's decision to make the Countess of Rothes complicit in Ruth Bukater's attempted snubbing of Mrs. Brown; ordinarily, Britain's nobility could afford to be a bit more socially tolerant than a member of America's "Four Hundred."

  3. #23
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    One can only dream of what Titanic '97 might have been had it truly been a re-make of ANTR. And if Cameron had approached the screenplay as did Eric Ambler: "Everything was in the book. All I had to do was knit it together". As MacQuitty similarly put it, Ambler's brief was to "Weave a seamless web out of Walter's book of hundreds of characters and situations - a sack of pearls that needed threading".

    It would have worked. It would have attracted good reviews, perhaps even critical acclaim. It would have had box appeal. But enough to recoup the huge investment? I very much doubt it.

  4. #24
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    Would a decent movie of Titanic fall into the trap of too many story lines? I mean, in ANTR, Walter does this, but we are only introduced to characters as they pop up in the story of the sinking.

    With a movie, you'd have to introduce the person at the beginning, and whether or not we really know what happened while they were on the voyage the whole time, we'd have to have them doing something. Obviously, with 1st Class, quite a few people can be introduced with follow-through story lines, but Walter also talked about 2nd and 3rd class passengers, and we don't know what all of them were doing, just bits and pieces from their survivor accounts.

    I just wonder if a true retelling of the Titanic saga would get bogged down with cumbersome story lines for all involved.

  5. #25
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    If you tried to include everybody, of course it couldn't work, and for ANTR there was never any serious intention to make up a string from all the pearls in the sack. The film in fact has very few real passengers as named characters in the cast. It relies rather on composite characters representative of groups rather than individuals. Even Kenneth More's character, while named in the cast as Lightoller and based upon the real 'Lights', is to some extent a composite.

  6. #26
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    Bob: There is one exception to the "composites" concept - one of the minor actresses is rather obviously supposed to be the querulous Imanita Shelley, if one knows one's Titanic. Something tells me a great deal of fun was had by all on that one!

  7. #27
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    Indeed there are passengers in the film who are not composites - about a dozen who are named in the casting list (though not necessarily in the onscreen credits). Others who for obvious reasons are provided with fictitious or ambiguous names, like Ismay ('The Chairman') and the Duff Gordons. Many very brief and uncredited appearances - like W T Stead, and the woman who almost falls between the ship and a lifeboat and is unidentified in the film as in reality. There's even one (the gambler Jay Yates) who is now known not to have been on the ship at all!

    Something to consider here is that ANTR was made at a time when many of the survivors, and even more of the loved ones of victims, were still alive. This was surely a further reason for using composite and/or un-named characters, especially those who were fated to die onscreen.

  8. #28
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    Now here's an interesting question about the casting. Did Lawrence Beesley appear in the film? Not an actor playing him, but the man himself? Beesley, still spritely as a much older man, was on the set as a 'technical adviser'. MacQuitty had the idea that it might be fun to equip him with a costume and insert him into the background of a suitable scene as an uncredited extra. Beesley was all for it, but there was a problem - the actors' Union were not at all happy about the idea of a part in the film, however small, going to somebody who was not one of their own. In his memoirs MacQuitty leaves it at that, but I wonder. These were very special circumstances, and MacQuitty was a persistent and very persuasive man who generally got what he wanted.

  9. #29
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    Thank you for the link to archive ANTR comments Bob. I'll be visiting there quite often I think !

    I agree with VillageJen, Bob and Sandy's posts were delightful to read, and actually struck the right chord. I totally agree with their comments but just wouldn't know how to express them as well as they have. I work at a school and the kids were watching Cameron's Titanic film as a treat at the end of term, but I always made sure I brought ANTR to their attention by stressing that although Cameron's had all the Hollywood movie stars, big sets, romance and the usual Hollywood hype, ANTR is certainly worth a viewing even if it's only to compare the two movies.

  10. #30
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    Hallo, Jean, and thanks for your comments. Regards to the other 8 Jeans, by the way!

    You did a good service to the kids by showing Cameron's film and then recommending that ANTR was worth a viewing. Next time, might I suggest that you reverse the order in the billing?

 

 
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