Favorite actor who has played Lightoller


James Thomas

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Jan 8, 2007
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Hi guys! Now I know that most people's favorite actor to play Lightoller is Kenneth More from "A Night To Remember", but what about the lesser talked about actors who have played Lights in a supporting role. Here are the choices:
Jonathan Phillips in Titanic (1997)
Edmund Purdom in Titanic (1953)
Kevin McNulty in the 1996 TV mini series
Malcolm Stoddard in S.O.S. Titanic
John Longden in Atlantic (1929)(O.K, I know his character is called Lanchester in the film, but he was based on Lightoller.)
My personal favorite is Edmund Purdom. I know most of what he does in Titanic(1953) is fictional, but I enjoyed his performance nevertheless.
 
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mark garfien

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I have to agree with you, other than Kenneth More, Edmund Purdom, is my personal favorite.
 
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Timothy Trower

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Jonathan Phillips played a bit more of a not quite perfect Lightoller in 1997. I think that made him a more human, not quite a Superman character such as was played by More.

More is still my favorite portrayal of Lightoller, but my judgement may be clouded by this thought: my favorite description of the 1997 movie is that it is the best colour Titanic movie ever made!
 
Dec 29, 2006
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If the question is about favourite actors, then the answer must clearly be Kenneth More. However, this avoids what is perhaps a more appropriate question regarding the realism, or otherwise, of his performance in A Night to Remember. Although the real life More was from relatively a humble background - he was, at one time, a clerk in the service of the Jersey Eastern Railway - his on-screen persona was surely too "posh" for that of a merchant navy officer. This was presumably a result of More's own wartime experiences and training as a WWII Royal Navy officer. Surely the real-life "Lights" would have had at least some trace of a Lancashire accent?
 

Bob Godfrey

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In the available recordings of Lightoller's voice, his accent is hard to place - like the seaman that he was, it covers a lot of ground, everywere from Lancashire to Long Island with a bit of Long John Silver thrown in. In terms of class it's lower middle, like a bank clerk or shopkeeper. Certainly not as 'posh' as 1st Class steward Frederick Dent Ray, for instance.

If I'd been casting ANTR in 1957 my first choice for Lightoller would have been John Mills. Not only did he look more like the real 'Lights', but he had a lot of experience in portraying 'officer types' and was convincing when playing any social class in both drama and comedy roles. He would certainly have been more familiar (if not exactly a major attraction) to American audiences, for whom More was unknown.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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On the subject of Kenneth More and A Night to Remember, I have been trying to post some images of my ANTR premiere jigsaw puzzle which incorporates colour-tinted "stills" from the film. However, the system will not accept the jpeg images, even though they have been downsized.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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I have been trying everything for the last two weeks, includind "oversize image". As a last resort, I will try a further reduction in size.
118481.jpg
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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A bit of a mixed bag there - Purdom was probably the best looking of the bunch! Otherwise, I found it difficult to get beyond the absurdity of some of the positions he was placed in to form much of an impression of his depiction of the Second Officer.

Johnathan Phillips - through no fault of his own (I'm sure the scripting of his part owed a good deal to Wyn Wade's influential interpretation of Lightoller) - I found very unsatisfactory. He gave me the impression of being high-strung - even brittle - before the collision. And his teetering-on-the-edge, ready-to-lose-it persona post-collision is at great odds with the figure remembered by witnesses such as Gracie. Lightoller needed a bit of humanising after More's depiction, but making him a nervy haracter holding on to control by his fingertips wasn't really what was called for.

When I say he needed humanising, I mean that I think we needed to get away from "Super Lights" - More's Lightoller was 'human' in the sense that we saw some warmth, humour and empathy in him, but beyond human in his extraordinary efforts during the evacuation. His loading of the boats was almost a solo effort...although we can contrast his mastery with Murdoch, who is seen in a very lackadasical loading of Boat 1. Might be satisfying for the dramatic requirements of the script, but not as a specific character portrayal.

Still, aside from queries over the accent (and he wasn't alone on that point - I quite enjoyed the delivery of Lowe's imperious "Rubbish! You've room for about twenty more! Now hold your tongue and do as you're told"), I still feel he was the best to date. Certainly Sylvia Lightoller thought he was tremendous - but when your husband is being depicted as the hero of the movie, I imagine it may be difficult to quibble with his portrayal.

What he does possess is the personal charm that the original Lightoller commanded in no small degree - also the charisma, and (even though exagerated) the leadership qualities evident throughout Lightoller's remarkable career.

James, if you were after a *worst* Lightoller to appear on screen, it would have to be Sigmar Solbach in the 1984 German telemovie Titanic. He is a villain out of melodrama(again, seeing Wade's work influencing the writers, although Wade never vilified Lightoller like this!) and is depicted as the evil genius of the American inquiry. One of the final scenes, as he quaffs champagne with Ismay and gloats over their escape from Senator Smith, would be offensive if it weren't so gloriously over-the-top and amusing!
 
May 9, 2006
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Oh dear, the German telemovie from 1984! Goodness, Inger, I completely forgot about it - or pushed it so far to the back of my mind that I'd never thought about it in this context. It definitely has the worst Lightoller to date. The last time I watched it (and it was only the second time ever)I was thinking that were Lightoller still alive he'd probably sue the film makers. I became rather cranky myself. I guess it's better to see it as a bit of a joke than take it seriously.

As to the best Lightoller in movies, I'd vote for Kenneth More, too. Despite the 'larger-than-life Super-Lights' aspects. It naturally helps that Lightoller's part in A Night to Remember is larger than in all the other films, but I also think the depiction is closest to the 'original', notwithstanding the slight over-the-topness.
 

Inger Sheil

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Hallo Moni!
quote:

I became rather cranky myself.
I seem to remember that you hardly wanted to continue your running translation from the German, you were so disgusted with the dialogue that had been forced on Lightoller!

Lowe was entertaining, though - any suggestion in Wade's text that he was playing to the gallery was exagerated to the nth degree in the telemovie!​
 

Pat Winship

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May 8, 2001
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I suppose that there's never really been a satisfactory portrayal of Lights in film. More was lovely, but not quite it, and the rest were essentially cameos. (Haven't seen the German flick mentioned by Inger and Monika)
 

Inger Sheil

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In an odd sort of way, Pat, you might find yourself enjoying it! I know I did. I probably should have been outraged, but it was just so ludicrous. Lightoller in his on-screen persona knocking back the champagne vs. Lightoller in reality causing his wife anxiety because he lost so much weight in the aftermath of the sinking ( not to mention suffering what sounds like a PTSD flashback at least once) I couldn't take the movie version seriously enough to get angry.
 

Pat Winship

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That's the same point that most of the forum members of uboat.net have reached when it comes to the infamous movie u-571. They've given up screaming about its numerous historical and operational inaccuracies, and have learned to look at it as a string of sight gags! Even those who are not real experts, such as myself, can pick up a lot of them.
 
May 9, 2006
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Not that I have any intention of watching that thing (the German Titanic Inquiry film) ever again - or not for some time at least - but I have the sneaky suspicion that I'd be hard pressed to just see the funny side of it. It must be one of those cases, where one feels automatically, if unreasonably, somewhat responsible for something just because it comes from the same country as oneself.

It is an interesting idea - and one that has been suggested on a different thread here - to make a film about the Senate Hearing, but this film certainly shows that you can make a real mess out of it. And not only because it is Wader than Wade.

Pat, I agree, a really, really satisfactory portrayal of Lightoller has not happened yet, but I guess that would require a mini-series of his life.
 

Bob Godfrey

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There's also The Titanic Chronicles, an audio production in which testimonies from the Senate Hearing are read by actors from various Titanic films. But none of these old hands play their familiar roles. Bernard Hill (Cameron's Captain Smith), for instance, is Stanley Lord, Eric Braedon (Cameron's Astor) is Ismay, and Gloria Stuart ('old Rose') is Helen Bishop. Now, with the full range of Titanic cast lists to choose from, who did they select to deliver the voice of Lightoller? It was Tim Curry, the villainous steward from the TV mini-series!
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