1953 Movie On DVD

Jason D. Tiller

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I also watched this movie for the first time on "Saturday Night at the Movies" when I was 11, so I'm very happy it's out on DVD. I own it on video as well, but I will definitely be buying it on DVD. As posted above, even though with all it's inaccuracies it's still a great film and it has superb acting. Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb are in my opinion, terrific together.

I agree with Bill, it does put James Cameron's movie in it's place, but I still love the 1997 version as well.

I'm looking forward to the extra's!

"A brand new day that's never been touched"
-Barbara Stanwyck

"Ah, thank you Emma. Those cheeks of yours bloom in the soft air".
-Clifton Webb

I love those quotes!
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Best regards,

Jason
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Mary S. Lynn

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And the 12-man brass-band rendition of "Oh, Danny Boy" (Londonderry Air) was a special touch...considering that the Titanic's "band" was all strings. The scene of Isidore and Ida Strauss singing the Christian Welsh hymn, "Nearer My God to Thee", certainly complemented their Jewish heritage! I felt especially touched when the second Mrs. Astor (Madeline Force..20 years old) was portrayed as an elderly matron...just like me! Ah, well.

"Far Above Cuyhoga's Waters...."
-Robert Wagner
 
Feb 21, 2003
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I just got the 1953 Titanic on DVD too. I hate to say it, but the 'fictional character' story line really does hold up. In that regard, this file beats Cameron's Titanic hands down. That being said, Cameron's Titanic does have the effects and sets that bring Titanic alive.

But still, 1953 Titanic has got the advantage, the opening sequence of the glacier 'calving THE iceberg' is a great touch. Lionel Newman conducting the orchestra with a Sol Kaplan score is a terrific opening theme. The fact that the movie is not populated with a lot of 'music cues' except where the ships orchestra is required, gives it a 'documentary feel.' The costumes were faithful to the period, and if nothing else, Clifton Webb definitely acted like an 'Edwardian Gentleman.'

Titanic '53 has some glaring errors, like the iceberg on the Starboard side, but the damage being done on the Port side, stuff like that. But I bet that when this film was in the theaters, there were no 'rivet counters' like us to pick it apart either.

I look at this film as a movie about Richard and Julia Sturgis and it is set aboard the Titanic. They give a good look at what it was like in an Edwardian Era family.

A rank this movie right behind A Night To Remember and Cameron's Titanic.

-Whirl Me....Twirl Me....Whirl Me, Twirl Me, Do That Navajo Rag!-Robert Wagner
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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This otherwise ordinary movie has one or two odd features. As far as I know, it's the only Titanic movie to show the firing of the distress signals correctly. You have to watch closely, but you can see the use of the firing lanyard to fire the detonators in the sockets.

It also gets the number of saved (712)correct, which is odd for the time.

The 'sand for supper' line is curious. It comes from a little known document called the Portrush letter, which was published in 1912. Here's the relevant part.

"Mr McIlroy, the purser, had quite a sum of money for me, but I'd give a great deal more to see his genial smile again. He was a fine big-hearted Galway man, and a prince to boot. Mr Lightoller told me that the last time he spoke to Mac, he said: 'Well, it looks as if we will have sand for supper tonight.'" "I don't think he [McElroy] got down so far, for he was a clean big fellow."

The whole letter may be seen at http://www.nautical-papers.com

It's odd that the movie makers got hold of this obscure passage.
 

George Behe

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Hi, Dave!

>The 'sand for supper' line is curious. It comes >from a little known document called the Portrush >letter, which was published in 1912.

>It's odd that the movie makers got hold of this >obscure passage.

They didn't have to go to Ireland to unearth that info -- McElroy's "sand for supper" comment had been well publicized in the New York Sun on April 25, 1912. (The so-called Portrush letter didn't make its appearance in Ireland until the following month.)

All my best,

George
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Dave -

One of the most interesting things I've found about the Portrush letter has been the correlations between some of the material it contains and data from other sources. In one instance I'd relegated one piece of information from another source to the 'unlikely' bin, only to be surprised when Senan sent me the contents of Smith's letter - the same anecdote appeared in that text. As is often the case, it can be unclear whether the stories that appear more than once are originally derived from the same common source or from independant sources.

It's an intriguing letter, though - another example of the sources that can be found when researchers go further afield than mainstream metropolitan papers, particularly those published in America (or, to a lesser extent, material in London, Southampton and Liverpool papers). Molony has a particular knack for these sources - I was out at the PRO a few days ago doing some follow-up work for him on some material he's turned up, and as ever am impressed by his ingenuity in locating and utilising sources that have long been neglected.

The 'Sand for supper' comment seems to have a curious resonance - it turned up again, at least in draft form, in the script for the Titanic miniseries.

Best thing I can say about the 1953 Titanic movie is that A.E. Housman's poetry got a look-in - Barbara Stynwick recited one of his works (and Housman does make perfect deckchair reading). Not exactly as effective a use as the Housman poems that surfaced in Out of Africa, but it was nice to see!
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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Had I know the delights of reading A.E. Houseman while relaxing, cruising, and vacationing aboardship on a deckchair, I would have immediately vacated the wooden, upright, (and uptight) circa 1964 standard high school equipment in which I sat, and booked Cunard. Instead, being only 18, having no money (real or inherited), seeing no possibility of a Burke's Peerage mention, and dreading subsidizing a partial scholarship with a few years of working in a dry-cleaning establishment for minimum wage, Houseman, et. al, was a complete bore...and nothing more than a requirement. Boer War? Never heard of it, then. We were just getting drafted for Viet Nam. "Rose-lipt maiden" meant a 59-cent (1964) Cutex version of lip-gloss. We snickered about some guy with long curly hair wearing a tiara after a sweaty race. We guffawed about Gray honoring moldy, mossy tombstones. Browning was just too smarmy, and Shelley (Mary) had, at least, created a great cinematic monster. Coleridge was the only one to hold my interest - who could resist a bloodied, dead, really big white bird? The four long-haired lads from Liverpool made Lovely Rita outshine any 19th century rose-lipt maiden! It's a good thing that I have matured to appreciate the things that I scoffed at forty years ago. Well..maturity being relevant.
 

Dave Gittins

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Thanks for the info, George. It suggests that the movie makers used American papers as sources, in the absence of recent books. After all, they had nothing later than Lightoller and Rostron's books, even if they were aware of them.
 
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Hi, Dave.

Good point. How we take for granted that in 1953 the research team on "Titanic" had anything like the information on the disaster we would now consider common knowledge. The film intro references the official inquiries. Beyond that they had the mass-produced "memorial" books, some good accounts like Beesley, Gracie, etc., and the contemporary newspapers. It's a wonder they got as much right as they did!

Regards to all,
Doug
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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Good points, both Dave and Doug! There's even a note at the beginning of the movie saying something to the effect that "all technical data is taken verbatim from the 1912 inquiries of the Congress of the United States, and the British Board of Trade"...41 years previous. A Commodore Illingsworth (?) was a technical advisor. I still stifle a giggle, though, every time I see the Jewish Straus' singing word-for-word that Welsh Christian hymn (NMGTT) at the end! Oy vey. (Now, don't make me look this up, but I think even Lightoller - in his book - refers to them by their "Christian" names. Yes, I know - given names).

I just received the DVD a couple of days ago, and enjoyed the commentaries...especially Audrey Dalton's account of how her overly-rounded bum was covered by Stanwyck's fur stole in a scene where they were leaving the dining room...to prevent embarassment. I'm still watching the DVD, and am beginning to enjoy it, as it beats the heck out of my taped VCR version. Bit of a problem with Phillips' distinct American accent, though.

Off to e-bay in search of a fur stole.
 

Inger Sheil

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quote:

Instead, being only 18, having no money (real or inherited), seeing no possibility of a Burke's Peerage mention, and dreading subsidizing a partial scholarship with a few years of working in a dry-cleaning establishment for minimum wage, Houseman, et. al, was a complete bore...
Alas, Mary, you're shooting holes in my theory that Housman is one of the most accessible of poets, and that at least some of his works are a great entry point for students when they start delving into poetry! I've never been without a volume of his work - I have one battered Everyman edition of his collected works (since replaced by a snazzier Penguin volume that includes selections of his classical translations, critical essays and letters) that has been with me all over the world. For me his collected works rank with what Fi calls the 'desert island books', and I've never done a dive trip or extended overseas sojourn...and rarely even a weekend away...without AE tucked in the luggage. Have never known a time when he wasn't a favourite, culminating in the decision to write my English Lit Honours thesis on his work. But you seem to have come to an amicable settlement with him since your teen years!

He resonates wonderfully well with this era - I've often wondered how many of those who sailed on the Titanic were Housman fans. A Shropshire Lad was first publised in 1896 (written just up the road from me - I walk past the terraced house with its blue plaque everytime I go into Highgate), and was fairly quietly received originally, growing slowly but steadily in critical and popular acclaim until WWI, when it suddenly - and, given the themes it deals with, understandably - took off and became a huge success.

It's been so long since I saw the movie I can't remember which particular Housman poem Barbara uses to dole out her words of wisdom to the young eager beaver - was it XIII?

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
'Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free.'
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
'The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with signs a plenty
And sold for endless rue.'
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true
 

Dave Gittins

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While we are way off topic, I'll add that I've been known to sing Housman, in the settings by George Butterworth. In particular, I've done Is my Team Ploughing (a song with a sting in the tail) and the oddly prescient The Lads in Their Hundreds. The set includes the poem Inger quotes. There's also Vaughan Williams's collection called On Wenlock Edge. It dates from 1909, so we'll sneak it in as Edwardiana.
 

Inger Sheil

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His lyrical verses do lend themselves nicely to being set to music. Is My Team Ploughing was a favourite of Hardy's, and The Lads in their Hundreds (XXIII) is one of mine! I attended a performance of Housman's poetry set to music at Norwich a few years ago, and quite enjoyed it.

Housman had a few things to say about it, as it was happening in his lifetime:
quote:

I have no objection to Mr Ettrick setting the verses to music, but I have not exacted fees fromother people who have set other pieces, so I don't want to begin now. Vanity, not avarice, is my ruling passion; and so long as young men write to me from America saying that they would rather part with their hair than with their copy of my book, I do not feel the need of food and drink.
Typically Housmanishly waspish is this comment on another effort:
quote:

Mr I.B. Gurney (who resides in Gloucester Cathedral along with St Peter and Almighty God) must not print the words of my poems in full on concert programmes (a course which I am sure his fellow-lodgers would disapprove of); but he is quite welcome to set them to music, and to have them sung, and to print their titles on programmes when they are sung.
And, finally, here's his comments on William's efforts, made in a letter to his publisher on 20 December 1920 - I think of them whenever I hear omissions in his verses:
quote:

This reminds me. I am told that composers in some cases have mutilated my poems, - that Vaughan Williams cut two verses out of 'Is my team ploughing' (I wonder how he would like me to cut two bars out of his music), and that a lady whose name I forget has set once verse of 'The New Mistress,' omitting the others. So I am afraid that I must ask you, when giving consent to composers, to exact the condition that these pranks are not to be played.
Come to think of it, the above are comparatively mild observations from the often devestatingly amusing but viciously acerbic poet. While he remains my favourite poet, he is one of the few figures in the historical literary pantheon I would have no desire whatsoever to meet in person.​
 

Eric Paddon

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Jun 4, 2002
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Picked up the DVD the other day and have just now started to watch, starting first with the Wagner/Dalton/Stoddard commentary etc. I was not aware of Edmund Purdom's presence in this movie before (two years before his big attempt at stardom in "The Egyptian" largely fizzled) since he is uncredited. Looks to be a first-class presentation overall and the price with all these extras at $15 is a real bargain when I think of how much I had to pay for the Criterion ANTR Laser Disc so many years ago ($99! The DVD is still $40 I think).
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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My reply to Inger - in which I state my unfailing love for Streep's recitation of "To An Athlete Dying Young" has disappeared into the netherworld of unappreciated poetry, I fear. It was a good reply - all about Dutch and English Africa.

I had a real problem with Sylvia Stoddard's commentaries on the DVD. She did one on her own, and one combined. She actually stated that Cherbourg was the port of embarkation, followed by Queenstown, followed by Southampton! And she has been a member of American and British THS for over twenty years? Um...I'm no expert, but...I do know that the Titanic left from Southampton, went to Cherbourg, and then to Queenstown, Ireland, before "stretching her legs" in the North Atlantic.
 

Eric Paddon

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Getting to the end of it now, and I'll agree that Stoddard comes across as a weak Titanic expert. She may have been referring to how in the film, Cherbourg is where the voyage starts and tripped over her words on that one, but I get the feeling that unlike Lynch/Marschall on the ANTR commentary she didn't want to overload the "casual viewer" with too many details. Unfortunately that makes it less valuable then it could have been in that area.
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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I don't think I agree, Eric. She was full of details (or tried to be) , and I think she was trying to impress upon us her years of "Titanic" Historical Society memberships (big DUH),as that's the initial information she gave us in both commentaries. In both the individual and combined commentaries, she said the same thing - Cherbourg was Titanic's port of embarkation. I will accept any Lynch/Marschall "over- commentation and details" above anything by Sylvia Stoddard, even though those two may have been mistaken in a few small details, but NOT the fact that the RMS Titanic sailed out of Southampton at noon on April 10, 1912.
 

Eric Paddon

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Actually, I think we're more in agreement because it's correct that the Lynch/Marschall approach is far superior. I just got the feeling Stoddard was trying to overly generalize everything.

I did love that detail about there being a photo of the Queen Mary on the wall when Lightoller responds to the impact.
 

Eric Paddon

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And listening to her "audio essay", I have to wonder just what in the world has Stoddard been reading when she spouts this nonsense about Ismay? In one instance she utters a falsehood of the first order when she says Ismay got off on one of the first lifeboats to leave. Collapsible C was practically among the *last* to leave.
 
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Mary S. Lynn

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Glad to see we're in agreement, Eric! I got the feeling that Stoddard was just trying to become important and famous, which apparently didn't work for her. I never would have noticed the QM photo, though, without the commentary. I just ulped a big guffaw when I saw that! Bad Jean Negulesco! Oops - I forgot to take late 1952 knowledge and technical abilities into consideration! Cat-o-nine-tails slapping Yankee backside. Ouch!

Re: Edmund Purdom. A Lightoller misportrayal, whose role was basically overlooked. A very "deep-throated" and genuine Britisher. "The Egyptian 1954",. IMHO (and I tend to NOT use computerese), is a "forgotten" movie in terms of history. An Egyptian doctor who succumbs to the lure of a prostitute - Gene Tierney, but is rescued (in the Christian sense) by Jean Simmons. The emergence of the "Ankh" and the "One God". Ankenhaten and Nefertiri. Victor Mature as Imhotep. Myriads of Italian films thereafter. Spaghetti westerns. Loss of a very good British voice.