1970's Lusitania Documentary


Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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I am trying to track down a print or a video copy of an English Lusitania documentary from the 1970s with a title to the effect of Lusitania: Death By Misadventure. It ran several times on PBS here in the States back in the late 1970s and then never appeared again. As I recall it contained survivor interviews and a lot of archival footage, and 'though I've not seen it in about 20 years I remember it as being one of the better shipwreck themed TV programs. Much like the Morro Castle episode of the sleazy "When Havoc Struck" TV show of the 1970s, it has proved elusive, but I keep hoping it will re-run or turn up on the collector's market. I'll pay shipping and handling fees, and any reasonable added fee to anyone who has this.
 

Steve Smith

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I have clear memories of a Jacques Cousteau "Undersea World" documentary chronicling the Lusitania and his dives on her - salvaging one of the ship's whistles among other things. Could it be that?
 

Jim Kalafus

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No, but I'd be interested in finding a copy of THAT as well. The documentary I am looking for is British, and was used at fundraising time on NYC Public Television for YEARS- vanishing, never to resurface, after I got my first VCR back in 1980. I remember it as being a well done collection of archival footage and survivor interviews. But then, I was 13 the last time I saw it. Viewed after 21 years have passed it might prove to be a letdown, but I'm still trying to track it down anyway.
 
K

Kathy Savadel

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Hi, Jim; you've probably already thought of this, but -- just in case....Have you tried tracking down more details about the show through PBS? I suppose you could try your local PBS station, as well as perhaps a national contact at http://www.pbs.org. Maybe they have specific information about this program (e.g., production company) in their scheduling records.

Just a thought. Good luck!

Kathy
 

Jim Kalafus

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Thanks, Kathy. I have thought of that from time to time, but am somewhat slow on the follow through and so have never taken it that far. Thanks for the address- I'll try contacting them a bit later this evening and see what I come up with. Thank you!
 
R

Richard K. Mason

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Hello James, and all others;

I know your thread deals with documentaries made in the 70's about the Lusitania, but I was just wondering if you or anyone else remembers a documentary made in the fall of 1962 shown on NBC which dealt with the question of the ship being a legitimate military target and other areas? I sure would like to see this one again! And also, did you happen to record the HBO special in 1987 or '88 concerning the Morro Castle? I thought it was pretty good and well re-created. This one, I do have on tape!

Take Care!
Richard
 

Jim Kalafus

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Richard: Was that the one with a then-relatively-unknown John Goodman as George White Rogers in the recreations? I saw it, but did not tape it, back in the late 1980s. If you recall the title of the NBC special, I can check at the Museum of Broadcasting in NYC in NYC to see if they have it. I have not heard of it before, but will look into it further.
 
R

Richard K. Mason

Guest
Hello James!
Thanks For Your Reply;

As I vaguely recall, the Lusitania special was a part of the "NBC's White Paper" series. I'm an old guy, so you may never have heard of this before. It was a kind of news show that discussed past and present issues usually moderated by Chet Huntley or David Brinkley or someone with NBC news. I remember watching this, though, because it aired just before my favorite T.V. show at the time, "Wide Country", a modern T.V. western. And also, I had seen 1953's "Titanic" earlier that year on NBC's Saturday Night At The Movies. It tweeked my adolescent curiosity to the point of wanting to learn more about the great steamship era! And yes, that WAS John Goodman as G.W.Rogers in the HBO Morro Castle special. He'd already made somewhat of a name for himself in 1984's "Revenge Of The Nerds"!

Thanks Again,
Richard
 

Jim Kalafus

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I will check on that at the museum. Hadn't thought of Chet and Dave for years, and now I have their "Goodnight, Chet" "Good Night, Dave" "Good Night For NBC News (unison)" echoing around in my head for the first time since circa 1970. I am trying to remember more of that Morro Castle show- did it have survivor interviews? Like much of the 1980s, it is a blur.
 
R

Richard K. Mason

Guest
Hello again, James

YES! The HBO special DID feature survivor interviews with 3 or 4 passengers and crew of the Morro Castle. Now, these interviews were filmed by the Fox-MovieTone news agency { I think }, and are the real thing, not a re-enactment. They are similar to the interviews done around the time of the Hindenburg disaster. This special was based in large part on the book by Thomas {sombody, I forget his name! } and Max Morgan Witts called "The Strange Fate Of The Morro Castle". It is very good reading if you can find a copy. Mine is very dog-eard and stashed away somewhere. Can't seem to find it!

Take Care!
Richard
 

Jim Kalafus

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If you can find a copy, Hal Burton's book Fire At Sea is the best of the (slim) collection of Morro Castle works. If you go into the archive there is a discussion about the relative merits of the three books in the Morro Castle section. The Fox MovieTone films are great, and a future project for me is to find the reels covering the return of the Vestris survivors.
 
Sep 5, 2015
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I recall a Cousteau Documentary where he located a survivor of the Lusitania (an older woman) ; picked her up in a helicopter and traveled to the sunken ship in a submarine with Cousteau and retrieved personal items from her cabin. Does anyone else recall this documentary. It was a great show!
 

IanMcD

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Jun 9, 2013
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I am trying to track down a print or a video copy of an English Lusitania documentary from the 1970s with a title to the effect of Lusitania: Death By Misadventure. It ran several times on PBS here in the States back in the late 1970s and then never appeared again. As I recall it contained survivor interviews and a lot of archival footage, and 'though I've not seen it in about 20 years I remember it as being one of the better shipwreck themed TV programs. Much like the Morro Castle episode of the sleazy "When Havoc Struck" TV show of the 1970s, it has proved elusive, but I keep hoping it will re-run or turn up on the collector's market. I'll pay shipping and handling fees, and any reasonable added fee to anyone who has this.


Hello Jim. Did you ever succeed in finding a copy of this program or any information about it? I tried doing a search on YouTube but didn't seem to have any luck.

I did find a NY Times review from 1984:

TV REVIEW; LUSITANIA DOCUMENTARY
By JOHN CORRY
Published: May 9, 1984


''DEATH BY MISADVENTURE?,'' a one-hour British documentary, says the sinking of the Lusitania in 1915 could have been avoided. It is unlikely you will argue with the conclusion, and it is unlikely you will be much moved by it, either. The documentary, which appears to be rather musty, drowns in its own solemnity. It will be seen on Channel 13 at 10 tonight.
TV REVIEW; LUSITANIA DOCUMENTARY
 

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