Cameron's depiction of Molly Brown

Dan Kappes

In most Titanic films, such as A Night to Remember and the 1996 TV mini-series, Molly Brown threatens to throw Quartermaster Hichens overboard after he threatened her with the same and takes command of the lifeboat.

However, in James Cameron's 1997 film, after she tries to persuade Hichens to pick up people in the water, he rebukes her, rudely telling her to "shut the hole" in her face, and she sits back now silently, doing nothing.

Why didn't James Cameron show her heroic actions, or does this particular scene in the film take place sometime before she took over the lifeboat?


From what I understand Margaret Brown's heroism has been exaggerated over the years. She helped to row lifeboat 6 with the other women as they rowed 'away' from the sinking ship. Major Peuchen and Frederick Fleet were both rowing. Quartermaster Hichens was in command at the tiller. The captain called out with a megaphone and asked them to return to the ship and Hichen's refused to go back. Major Peuchen said - "I think the rebellion was made by some of the married women that were leaving their husbands." But their requests to obey the captain and go back were denied by Hichen's and they continued to row away. They rowed towards lifeboat 16 and took one of their men to help with the rowing. After the Titanic went down they still did not return to the scene. Major Peuchen said - "We kept on rowing toward this imaginary light". This was the mystery ship that could be seen a few miles away. Major Peuchen said - "There were only two of us rowing a very heavy boat with a good many people in it, and I do not think we covered very much ground."

He was asked:
Q - While these cries of distress were going on, did anyone in the boat urge the quartermaster to return?
A - Yes; some of the women did. But, as I said before, I had had a row with him, and I said to the women, "It is no use you arguing with that man, at all. It is best not to discuss matters with him." He said it was no use going back there, there was only a lot of stiffs there, later on, which was very unkind, and the women resented it very much. I do not think he was qualified to be a quartermaster."......"We did not return to the boat."

During the journey to the Carpathia the women helped considerably with the rowing as the men were tired out.

Q - Did any of the women help with the oars?

A - Yes; they did, very pluckily, too. We got the oars. Before this occurred we got a couple of women rowing aft, on the starboard side of our boat, and I got two women to assist on our side; but of course the woman with me got sick with the heavy work, and she had to give it up. But I believe the others kept on rowing quite pluckily for a considerable time."
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From what I read in Don Lynch's book, Molly didn't really take charge until the Carpathia arrived on the scene. Hitchens said the ship was there to retrieve bodies, not pick them up. This was the last straw for Molly, who had enough of his crappy attitude all night, and everything else as they say was history. I do think that it was wrong not showcase this in JC's film regardless of when it happened. To mention Molly in the beginning as The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and have her cowering back after this rebuke, does great injustice as to WHY she got this title in the first place. I'm sure a lot of people left theatres wondering what was so tough and great about this woman if she didn't do anything?

Kyle Naber

I think it was more about her willingness to go back and her ability to keep spirits somewhat out of the mud in the boat that night.
I have mentioned this before, but IMHO Kathy Bates depiction of Margaret Brown was much better and more faithful to reality in Cameron's movie and certainly better than Tucker Maguire's in ANTR.
It was said that Mrs. Brown was sort of self-educated ., used proper speech and had toured Europe and was fluent in several languages. There was also a report that she was helpful in using this to talk to survivors while on the Carpathia. She certainly wasn't the "hick" portrayed in ANTR.
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Dan Kappes

In the 1964 film The Unsinkable Molly Brown, based on the musical, starring Debbie Reynolds, she is even depicted taking off most of her clothes to keep people warm in her lifeboat, except her underclothes! :D