Best Looking Lightoller

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Joanne Seiferlein

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I don't know who played Officer Lightoller in TITANIC (1953), but he is unquestionably the best looking Lightoller I have ever seen, hands down-- even better looking than Kenneth More in ANTR.
The worst of the lot is the Lightoller in the CBS miniseries.
 

Kate Bortner

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That was Edmund Purdom and English actor who I've only seen another time in the TV miniseries The Winds of War.
 

Neil McRae

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Actually I think the worst might have been from Comeron's flick. He looked a bit too thin and looked a lot like Steven Weber from the TV show "Wings"

The CBS Mini-series Lightoller may not have been the best actor but I think he looked the part better than Cameron's Lightoller
 

Inger Sheil

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Yes - Jonny Phillips was a very different physical 'type' to Lightoller. Phillips' Lightoller is a lean, ascetic individual who gives a striking impression of being highstrung and on the edge of completely losing his cool - a man barely in control of himself and the situation. I'd like to know just how much Wyn Craig Wade's book influenced Cameron's reading of this character and others (such as Lowe).
 
Jun 18, 2007
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Even though Lightoller the person was not my cup of oolong lookswise, I'd still have to say that when it comes to this matter, the real person far outstrips anyone trying to portray him.

Something I've always noticed about the crew and passengers, they look far better than the actors in these movies! (Okay, I'll make an exception for Ioan Gruffudd; now he's real easy on the eyes...but I digress). In some bizarre way, it's almost like whatever Fates planned for the disaster to happen, picked people from Universal Casting to fufill the roles!

So this is a strange observation...making strange observations is the only talent I have, sheesh!
 
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Kathy Savadel

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>> I'd like to know just how much Wyn Craig Wade's book influenced Cameron's reading of this character and others (such as Lowe). <<

Hello, Inger...um, I am a bit nervous asking this,
because it's been quite awhile since I read Wade's book or viewed Cameron's movie, but I wonder if I could ask you to elaborate on the above statement? As I recall, Wade portrayed Lowe as cocky and self-assured -- almost insolent -- whereas in Cameron's movie the character seemed (let me see if I can phrase this correctly!) inexperienced, almost nervous. (Remember the part where he is hesitating while a couple embraces before the wife enters the lifeboat?) He comes across as youthful and unsure of himself -- at least in that particular scene (not at the end, of course).

Just curious! As I said, it's been awhile. Maybe I'll pull Wade's book off the shelf and reread it.

Best regards,
Kathy
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Kathy -

Good point, and I quite agree with you that in terms of specific character portrayal there's a broad gap between Wade's confident, occasionally sardonic Fifth Officer and Cameron's rather tentative Lowe. The scene you specify has long given me a wry grin - Lowe seems absolutely torn between the urgency of the situation and his reluctance to part the couple. A far cry from the historic Lowe who, at that point, was being fairly ruthless in keeping men away from the boats, up to and including threatening even first class men with his Browning.

I was thinking more in the broad terms of the portrayal of Lightoller and Lowe's respective roles. Although Lowe and his actions had received mention in previous works such as Lord and Marcus, it was Wade who really turned the spotlight on the Fifth Officer and devoted a pretty fair chunk (virtually an entire chapter) to his character and actions, both of which were presented in a very positive light - a heroic, plain-spoken individualist. Lightoller, on the other hand, is subject to fairly critical revisionist examination that takes us a long way from ANTR (Lord himself would move away from this earlier, less critical portrayal of Lightoller when he wrote TNLO). It's this that I suspect we see reflected in Cameron's Titanic - a critical (too much so, IMHO) portrayal of Lightoller and a refocus of positive attention on Lowe.

Hope that makes more sense than my earlier comments!

~ Inger
 

Sam Brannigan

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Feb 24, 2007
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Hi Kritina - I have to agree with your observation - for instance, I thought the Countess of Rothes in the movie was nowhere near as beautiful (in looks and character) as the real one.

Inger - I must say I thought that Jonny Phillip's Lightoller was very good, apart from the obvious difference in their accents (but then standard English suited the needs of Titanic!).
To me, he comes across as the confident officer he was before the collision/grounding.
Philllips then portrays the disbelief and enormity of the situation descending on Lightoller as Andrews berates him for not filling the boats enough.
Their is a moment of human reaction before Lights gets a grip of himself and from thereon he is portrayed as the great professional mariner he was.
I'm sure that in reality Lights and the other officers were highstrung and on the edge - they were in the middle of something so immense and difficult to comprehend that it is hard to think of them being otherwise.
It is to their eternal credit that they didn't lose control of the situation in the face of such unexpected pressure, and I think that this is well shown in Phillip's portrayal - if not Murdoch's.
Just my opinion anyway!
BTW - did you visit the Kings Bar in Russell Square?

Kate - thank you for your kind words on the thread about the captain and officers - you know I could never leave you!
happy.gif


Regards

Sam
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Sam -

Intriguing - my interpretation of Jonny Phillips' body language was quite different to yours. I thought there was a palpable, very physical tension in him...even *before* the collision. He seemed as taut as a violin string, and his voice was continually strained. It's my own subjective opinion of course, but he struck me very forceably as a man on the edge of breaking down completely. From what I've read and know of the man, it struck a very false note. I don't think that the officers, speaking collectively were 'highstrung' at all - many survivors referred to their coolness under the circumstances. There were isolated instances where their self-command gave way - Lowe snapping at Daisy Minahan, Boxhall telling Mrs Douglas to 'Shut up' for example - but for the most part training and experience came to the fore that night.

Haven't yet had the chance to visit the Bar - am very much looking forward to doing so with a visitor who's coming over for Christmas. BTW, any chance of you popping over to London any time soon?

~ Ing
 
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Kathy Savadel

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Inger -- Thanks for the reply. I guess I was thinking in very narrow, specific terms regarding character portrayal. I appreciate your explanation. I will definitely have to pull Wade's book of my shelf and give it a thorough second read.

Best,
Kathy
 

Mary Hamric

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Apr 10, 2001
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Cameron has said that his Lightoller is hanging on by his fingernails in his movie. He doubted much of Lightoller's bravado about the story and felt that his interpretation would show that he wasn't the paragon of bravery and heroism that he traditionally was thought to be. He was more human than that. Not discounting all that Lightoller did to help others and save lives....but Cameron's view was that he was not as calm and cool as he said. Also, that he held back and covered up information out of loyalty to WSL. Cameron cites a personal letter Lightoller wrote to a friend indicating that an officer did indeed shoot himself that evening (something he denied immediately after the sinking). So you have to take some of his testimony with a grain of salt.

Phillips was great by the way. Another tidbit...the line of "Or I'll shoot you all like dogs" came totally out of improvisation in the scene rehearsal and Phillips didn't even know he had said those words he was so much in character at the time. Cameron added it to the script as a result.
 

Teri Lynn Milch

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Dear Mary Hamric,

I'm not sure where you got your information from but it is as accurate as I could agree. Lightoller was very much devoted to the line, and was willing to do what he needed to do during the bloody inquiries. Yes, you COULD, take his testimony with a grain of salt.

I also agree when you say that, "Cameron cites a personal letter Lightoller wrote to a friend indicating that an officer did indeed shoot himself that evening."

You say, "The line of "Or I'll shoot you all like dogs" came totally out of improvisation." I couldn't agree more....

I have not seen your name on this Board before so if you're new, welcome.

Sincerely,

Teri L. Milch
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Mary and Teri -

Mary wrote:

Cameron cites a personal letter Lightoller wrote to a friend indicating that an officer did indeed shoot himself that evening (something he denied immediately after the sinking). So you have to take some of his testimony with a grain of salt.

Teri agreed with this statement. I've seen quite a few interviews with Cameron, but have never seen this particular quote. Could either of you provide a specific citation for this Cameron comment, or better yet cite the original letter? Such a source would be very important. The only thing similar I've seen is the story uncovered by remarkable researcher Susanne Stormer - an anecdote related many years after the event to another party, and which eventually made its way to Stormer. The officer referred to in this second hand source was not named. As you would appreciate, there is considerable difference between a letter written by the witness involved and a story attributed to them years later by another individual who related it to a researcher - if you could provide such a source for this letter it would be invaluable.

Cameron has said that his Lightoller is hanging on by his fingernails in his movie. He doubted much of Lightoller's bravado about the story and felt that his interpretation would show that he wasn't the paragon of bravery and heroism that he traditionally was thought to be. He was more human than that.

I agree entirely that Lightoller was as human as any of us, and that past interpretations (such as ANTR) have glossed over the more negative aspects of this humanity. However, witnesses such as Gracie specifically comment Lightoller for his handling of himself during the disaster. While I don't believe Lightoller specifically testified as to his own coolness or calmness (one is largely left to draw the inference from his testimony), others vouched for it. Cameron, in his effort to humanise Lightoller, has given us a physical interpretations of the man's demenour that I feel is somewhat misleading - where are the accounts that construct him as "hanging on by his fingernails"? What does Cameron base this on, beyond supposition?

I'm not disputing Lightoller's personal flaws (or virtues, for that matter) or discussing whether his actions that night were the best that could have been taken - I'm just querying Cameron's interpretation of his demenour during the evacuation efforts. Lightoller was a highly experienced officer who proved himself pre- and post- Titanic capable of handling himself well during a crisis. Where is the historical basis for Cameron's edgy second officer?

Regards,

Inger
 

Teri Lynn Milch

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Hello Inger,

In my post I was mainly referring to the infamous letter Lightoller wrote to his friend, but I did want to comment on the behavior of Lightoller that night and say that he was quite levelheaded, in my opinion, because he was known for doing things by the book. Yes, in all of the accounts I have read on Lightoller, (not conclusive) he is shown to have had an ultimate respect for the White Star Line and followed procedures well. I wouldn't be surprised if he was called Bookey, or BookLight, or something to that effect because of his following procedures. In this event I do not know how Cameron got his edgy Second Officer.

Sincerely,

Teri
 

Inger Sheil

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G'day Kate! Good to see you again. Had a splendid visit to the States, and am finding it difficult to get in a work-minded frame again. Was good to go back to the USA post 9/11 as a small personal gesture of solidarity. Will send you an email as soon as the in-box is tamed to manageable proportions.

Terri, you state in your post that you were referring "mainly to the infamous letter Lightoller wrote to his friend". It can't be that "infamous" (or famous!), as this letter has yet to be specifically cited anywhere I've seen, including Bill Wormstedt's comprehensive site about the question of an officer shooting. I would be very intrigued to see a specific citation for such an important source - but is it possible that someone might have confused the account Susanne Stormer collected with an actual letter from Lightoller? If not, could you provide us with a source for the 'infamous' letter?

Regards,

Inger
 
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Patricia Bowman Rogers Winship

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Hi, all!

I cannot think of anyone less likely to have earned the sobriquet "Book-Light" than C.H. Lightoller. This comment gives the opportunity to point out that all too often, we define the Titanic's officers solely by the way they behaved on the bridge the night the ship sank-- and forget who they really were. Lightoller was a man who constantly tested the limits, and I suspect that his personnel file would make very racy reading, if it should ever surface.

I will continue to lament the inaccessability of his autobiography, which does give a clearer idea of who he was-- and you don't have to believe all his stories either. What comes across very plainly is that he was an intelligent man of great humor and considerable physical courage. His worst fault was that he could be occasionally inconsiderate, although he would try to make things right once he realized he had been so. And hard-headed. Only a hard-headed man would have brought the destroyer Garry to her home port, running backwards, because her bow had been almost ripped off when she rammed a submarine.

Pat W
 

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