Molly Brown in James Cameron's Titanic


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Jeffrey Word

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Hey out there. Sorry if there's a thread for this already but I didn't find one.

Why did they make Molly Brown back down from that Quartermaster Hitchens once the ship had sunk in the movie?

I have always read everywhere that she told the guy to "shut up or get thrown overboard". Why was it switched so that guy said it to her?

Kinda spoiled the whole scene to me. Unless it came out that Molly Brown didn't actually say that and do those things historically. I just felt that he really cut out all of Molly Brown's heroism.

Why?

Jeff.
 

Kevin Perez

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Jul 10, 2005
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She DID say that, Cameron just didn't add that to the movie. Which, as childish as this sounds, SUCKS! The TV movie did better job portraying her!
 
J

Jeffrey Word

Guest
Ryan Please do.
Under BIG inaccuracy. That's very unfair and in my opinion, disrespectful. I feel that way about the Strauss' being cut from 'Titanic'. For the sake of Kate jumping back on the ship to be with her pretty boy to be more effective.

Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Cameron and believe that he has a lot of respect for the Titanic and its history. But for God's sake! For the sake of a few dim-witted teenage girls, he gave up some of the best of the Titanic's real story.

Guess this goes to show why I fast forward through all the Leo/Kate scenes when I watch the film, and I stick to what LITTLE historical accuracy (as far as characters) the film has to offer...which cuts the film down to about an hour long film if you're just wanting to see historical stuff. As it stands now anyway. I'm ready for this special edition so hopefully it can make up for many let downs in the initial release.
 

Matthew Welsh

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Jul 16, 2004
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I'd say its pretty clear why that so-called "inaccuracy" came into being. Having Molly stand up to Hitchens, accurate or not, would have broken the mood (both in terms of historical and fictional plotlines) of that particular point of the film which was predominantly doom and gloom.
 
J

Jeffrey Word

Guest
Matthew, I have to agree with you on what you said. It just really, for a Titanic buff, ruined one of the best shows of heroism that the real story had to offer. I'm in school to become an actor and I very much understand the need in the industry for dramatic license. I as a Titanic buff was disappointed though, as I'm sure were several others. Plus that I'm a movie buff and I've never seen Kathy Bates back down from anything, so that was two blows IMO. I emphasize again though, I understand the motive...I guess.

I just believe that Margaret "Molly" Brown deserved to be rightfully and accurately portrayed as she's one of the few that were in complete safety that said "Let's go back" and they did. The whole cutting of that part of heroism in the face of death really shot the movie up for me. And other parts that I mentioned above. I'll say again, the Strauss' deserved more respect than that.

But that will all be shown in this special edition that's coming out so I'm going to stop trashing these parts as I know at least the Strauss' were filmed, just cut. So they'll be in this un-cut version. I can't wait!

I can't down Cameron. He's done so much in the name of Titanic research. He's uncovered more in these last 9 years than any other has. I know his heart is in the right place. It's just that at the time he had to appeal to Hollywood and the general public.

I just wanted to see Molly talk some ******.
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Have a great night everybody!

Jeff
 

George Heiss

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Hello Jeff,

Great point! I see once again we agree on a great many things involving Kathy Bates' Molly Brown. When I first saw the movie...I actually got hushed in the theatre when I yelped out, "Hey, that is not right!" What a total downplay! When I found out they casted Bates for Molly Brown, I knew she would play the part with flying colors. As you pointed out, Bates (historically in roles) doesn't back down to anyone and she can be very comedic as well. I knew she would be perfect. But when that scene came I was like "What the heck???!!!". Cameron got it wrong for sure there and WHY?

Again, like you said, I too have nothing but respect for Cameron's work. But sometimes I just don't understand certain actions he takes. Of course many of those actions are for dramatic reasons...but this one was one I never could figure out. I don't know if it could be that Molly Brown's life boat never did go back, but at least she did stand up to the officer. I do believe only one life boat returned of which was Officer Lowe's boat...and at least that was accurately depicted in the film. And for this disturbing scene I do give Cameron a thumb's up as no other Titanic movie showed this.

So Jeff, you are into acting, huh? I am a theatre person myself (off/on). I am not one for the stage mind you, but rather a behind the scenes guy. I have done much in terms of sound work and lighting. I do love and cherish old theatres and believe the last few 'palaces' that are left should be preserved. As you probably notice, I spell theatre the old way as well
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Getting back on track. You mention the Strauss'. I am even thinking that Cameron did so much extra homework and filming for Titanic that never made it to the big screen, I wonder if it is possible that he could make a more documentry styled version of his Titanic that took out all the "Love" story scenes and put back in the scenes with the Strauss's and the Californian scenes. You know just to bump up more the accuracy for those that wise to see something more along the lines of ANTR.

That would be a good move on his part and it should sell well...at least to Titanic fans and historic buffs.
 

Bob Godfrey

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George, re: no other film showing Lowe going back. Lowe is not identified by name in the dialogue of ANTR but he's in the cast list, and this is the one scene in which he is prominently featured:

Lowe ... This boat's returning to pick up survivors. I'm going to pass some of our passengers over to you.
Crewman ... We got no room in 'ere, Sir.
Lowe ... Rubbish! You've room for about 20 more! Now hold your tongue and do as you're told.

We then see the passengers transferred out of boat 14, including the contemptuous treatment of a man in a woman's shawl, as described by Lowe. True, they didn't actually show the sea full of bodies. It was decided that was too harrowing for a 1950's audience. Even a brief scene in which Lightoller retrieves a baby, sees that it is dead and then returns it to the water was cut from most prints of the film. Cameron of course provided a realistically high body count, but again with a touch of dramatic license. According to Lowe, during his foray into the wreckage the only bodies he saw were those of adult males.
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Mar 3, 1998
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James Cameron is the captain of "Titanic" (note the quotation marks and what they imply). As such, he takes responsibility for the film that bares his name. But, what you should know is that like any Captain, there are forces that act on his command that are beyond his control. He'll take responsibility, but as a lowly member of his crew, I think you should know some of the backstory before you continue to go on about how much he farked up.

You people wanted to see a defiant Molly Brown? It was shot. However, the scene was gutted because it would have taken too much screen time to show how Molly went from defiance to compliance (history does tell us that in the end, Boat 6 didn't return to the swimmers, despite Brown's protests). In Jim's ongoing battle with nervous studio execs, this was one of many compromises that had to be made for the film to survive. Remember, this was a time when all of Hollywood was predicting nothing but disaster for "Titanic" and the fools who greenlighted the project. All associated with "Titanic" were expected by all the industry watchers to go down with the "ship."

The brief scene that survived did so for one reason, and one reason only...to provide an example of a boat that did not return. The scene, as seen in the film, is not about Molly Brown. If it had been about Molly Brown, then the story would have been sidetracked. Boat 6 was used to set up the scene with Boat 14 and Officer Lowe, making more of Lowe's heroism than Brown's defiance. And actually, it wasn't even about Lowe's heroism...that was Jim's way of introducing some actual history into the narrative. The Lifeboat #6 scene was used to set up the Lifeboat #14 scene, which ultimately set up Rose's rescue. This was a studio decision. Welcome to Hollywood.

So, yes...there is historical inaccuracy in the film. That's because it was a popular film, bankrolled by a studio that stays in business by making profits from the box office. You're not going to find true history in a popular film...at best, there is some verisimilitude to give the impression of accuracy. So, you can go on and blame Cameron, as Captain of "Titanic," for not meeting your high standards of historical accuracy. However, you are doing a disservice to history yourself; in this case, the history of this project. The true history of this film is that compromises were made and inaccuracies introduced because there were studio representatives who forced cuts to keep the film within an arbitrary time length to please the audience that they anticipated. And that's the name of the game in Hollywood.

If anything, James Cameron should be thanked for what historical accuracy there was in the film. Those beautiful sets didn't have to be made to tell the story, and believe you me, Jim put every ounce of his influence on the line to keep the studio accountants off his back as the cost to reproduce the ship exceeded his greenlighted budget. Going by what I have learned about the film industry these past few years, I am amazed at how much real history Jim was able to force into the love story that his financial backers had bankrolled.

How was Jim able to justify it? By marketing the film as the most accurate portrayal ever made. By doing so, he countered the constant sniping from studio execs who were ready to disembowel Cameron over production costs should the film tank at the box office. Sure, some of you "experts" like to show your worth by pointing out the error in that statement, but I can tell you that it kept the film alive. It's difficult to understand the situation now that the film has proven itself to be a major financial success, but before its release, there were high-powered people who were trying to distance themselves from the project at the film's promotional expense before its release. James Cameron held it together, as he is wont to do, by the force of his conviction to see it to the screen. Yes, he had some allies, but if it hadn't been for Jim, "Titanic" would never have reached the screen.

The good movie that you want will never be made. Not unless you all get together and fund it yourselves. Even then, though, you will have to expend additional resources to fight off the studios who will not appreciate your intruding on their turf. Do you think that another ANTR could be made today? Looking at the offerings at your local Cineplex and tell me if a film like that could even be pitched today. I don't have the numbers in front of me, but I'll bet a marketing analysis will show that the 1953 "Titanic" would stand a better chance of being re-made today than ANTR. Good luck.

So, be critical of the errors in "Titanic" if you must, but be aware that you, too, might be guilty of perpetuating historical error. You might want to research the question of "why" errors are apparent before you reach your conclusions.

Parks

P.S. Jim is fully aware that Margaret Brown was not known by the moniker, "Molly," at the time of the disaster. Another compromise made to connect with an audience who might know of her from earlier popular films.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Once again, Parks has hit the nail on the head. Not every film aspires to be a work of art or a messenger of truth, but nearly all are the products of an industry, with investors and shareholders who expect at the very least not to lose money at the end of the day. If you want to bring the drama of real events to a large paying audience who will feel they got value from the ticket price, you have to meet with the expectations of that audience. And within that audience the ranks of Titanic enthusiasts around the World form a very, very small minority. So without Jack & Rose, no Titanic with its awesome recreation of the ship and its interiors. And without Titanic, no Ghosts of the Abyss and all that followed. It's the ordinary, non-specialist cinema patrons that pay for all this, not the likes of us.

ANTR is generally cited as the most realistic portrayal of events and the film has no greater fan than me, but I acknowledge hundreds of departures from reality, many of them made in order to better convey a sense of the scale of events within the confines of limited screen time. Walter Lord himself commented on the necessity for 'composite characters', including Kenneth More as Lightoller, who were representative of the recollections of many rather than the specific experience of any one survivor. To Walter, who fully accepted the economic realities of film drama, the departures from concrete reality were perfectly acceptable and he was happy with the result.

In ANTR, incidentally, we find exactly the same device of placing the 'returning boat' scene immediately adjacent to one featuring a boat which didn't go back - boat 1 was the choice on that occasion, and the characterisation of the Duff Gordons was suitably exaggerated to suit the comparison rather than the absolute truth.
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Dec 2, 2000
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>>Do you think that another ANTR could be made today?<<

Honestly Parks...no I don't, and for just the reasons you outlined. Especially now when movie attendence is dropping, the studio types are going to have to make a far more dedicated and realistic effort to appeal to the actual markets if they want those box office revenues. Unfortunately, mass audiances don't seem to much care for stark reality. They want the mythos, escapism and fantasy.

I for one have no issues with Jim Cameron. Considering what he was up against...I've known for years that the project was damned near scrapped...he did an impressive job in the face of that. The payback was that the film gave him the pull to mount two expeditions to the wreck which have done more to add to our understanding of the real history then just about any other contender.

I'll take it!
 
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Good summary, Bob. Seen from the eyes of the people with the money that makes things happen, ANTR is not the example to model a Titanic film after. This is the problem that faces every historical advisor for every "historical" film made. One of my fellow Civil War re-enactors was so incensed by the treatment that he received from the studios (the straw that broke his back was the TV epic, "North and South") that he pulled together his own resources and produced "Glory." He was smart enough to base his project around a concept (a "hook") with which the studios could realise a profit -- that of coloured soldiers overcoming adversity in the Union Army -- and the film stands today as a refreshing exception to the rule for accuracy in historical films (i.e., historical accuracy is low on the list of production priorities). However, "Glory" was in a different league from "Titanic" altogether. There is a difference in roles to be played by a "blockbuster" and other films. Unfortunately, it took the budget of a blockbuster to realise the re-creation of Titanic in human scale. My friend who produced "Glory" could not have made "Titanic."

What happened to him? With his success from "Glory," he was able to produce a few smaller projects (including a follow-on tribute to "Glory"), but nothing to equal his earlier success. His last project was in 2002...a small film about the Battle of Manassas.

I was editing my last post right up to the 60-minute cutoff limit. I didn't have time to include one last thought...how many of James Cameron's critics would put themselves in his shoes, asuming they had the resources that he had? He gambled his livelihood to make Titanic...if Titanic had bombed (as every industry watcher, forecaster and expert expected it would), James Cameron would be remembered right up there with such renowned directors as Kevin Reynolds, Michael Cimino and Elaine May. How many of you would risk your livelihood -- your ability to pay your bills, feed your family -- to make a movie about Titanic? I'd like to think that I would, but reality tells me differently. It was difficult enough for me to justify entrusting my life (I have children at home who would miss their daddy if I were to die while pursuing my own selfish interests) to Russian technology in order to visit the wreck. I have to admire Jim for the risk he took against huge odds to bring us a glimpse of Titanic. If you look at other Titanic efforts of the time -- "Titanic" (TV - 1996) and "SOS Titanic" -- you will see what the studios' preference was. I'm so glad that Jim didn't take the easy way out...so glad in fact that I'm willing to accept compromises that he was forced to make in order to bring his version of the story to the screen.

Besides, I find the actual history of why "Titanic" ended up in the form of its theatrical release much more fascinating than a superficial critiquing of errors. Digging out the "why" is what attracted me to historical research in the first place.

Parks
 

Kevin Perez

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Although I was not passionate about the historical inaccuracies and the love story, I must say, I was very pleased with the film regardless. The replica of the ship was alone worth seeing it. I felt the same way back when in early '98, when I was 7 years old going to the theaters to see the movie. While it has many flaws, you must remember this is not a documentary, so you cannot expect Hollywood to be faithful to ''actual'' things that happened that night.

I must also say that while people say that Cameron's film for being ''overrated'', well, I feel the same way for ANTR, especially when that film has its own fair share of flaws, goofs, inaccuracies, and etc.... But that's something different, so basically, I'm happy with what Cameron gave us. He's the same guy who directed classics like 'Aliens' and the first two Terminator films. It's sad when people rag on him because of this one.

Sad to say that 'Titanic', while loved, is also hated by many. You can easily tell by the people who say

''The only reason why this movie was so successful was because teenage girls flocked the theaters to see Leo DiCraprio'' or the ones who refer to Kate as fat, Leo a homosexual, and those who say we like the movie are 'fruity'
 
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At the THS convention on the Queen Mary in 1997, one of the speakers was someone who had worked on the Titanic TV 1996 feature, specifically with the special effects. I recall him saying that when he was hired, he had all these great ideas and plans of what could be done. But when it got down to it, the company wanted it "by Friday, for half the cost". And he was disappointed in the final results.

That movie had the first 'filmed' version of the breakup. I had high hopes for it - but the filmakers totally ruined it by obscuring it with quick cuts, and picture overlays. A total waste of film time.

Re: ANTR. Yes, I am sure there are inaccuracies introduced in the filming. However, I am amazed by the things they got right!
 

John Clifford

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At the 1999 THS Convention, Muffet Brown acknowledged that, indeed, Quartermaster Hichens prevailed, at first. Lifeboat #6 did not return to try and pick up survivors.

It was later on, when the Carpathia was sighted, that Molly Brown "took charge", organizing the women to row, and at that point she threatened to throw Hichens overboard.
If nothing else, Kathy Bates (who has had differences with James Cameron, per one consultant) could have been shown urging everyone to row, then trying to comfort Frances Fisher's Ruth.

As I mentioned, on other threads, what was also a gross misstatement was to have Molly sitting in the Lifeboat, urging Rose to get in. IF nothing else, Molly could have been standing on the Deck, and could have said something to the effect of "I'll go after her", before being the last one placed in Lifeboat 6.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Each Titanic film has its share of inaccuracies, and it doesn't really serve any purpose to detail them all here. My point is not to argue which of the Titanic films is the most accurate of all, but to deflate undue criticism of any of the directors' efforts in beinging their version of the Titanic story to the screen. Why? Because I have learned that multiple forces -- often in conflict with one another -- shape the final production. A major motion picture starts out as someone's pitch and through the course of production is pulled and pushed in multiple directions by a host of interests. It's a miracle if the final product resembles the original pitch.

This thread started out with criticism of Cameron's portrayal of Molly Brown's actions in Lifeboat #6. I countered this by saying that a more correct or detailed portrayal was filmed but sacrificed for the greater good of the overall production. The accusation was that James Cameron got it wrong...I counter that one should understand why inaccuracies make their way into a popular film before posting accusations in a public forum. Baseless accusations serve no purpose other than to perpetuate falsehoods and myths.

I used ANTR as only one of a few examples to illustrate my point, not to put that film into competition with Cameron's "Titanic." I can find fault with any Titanic film, but I much rather prefer discussing what's good about each. There's a lot that I like about ANTR and there's a lot I like about "Titanic" (1997, 1996, 1953 -- and to a certain extent -- 1943 versions) and I see no point in arguing over which is "the best."

If you want to find and discuss errors or inconsistancies in these films, fine...it's a good way to test your own knowledge and even learn a thing or two. Just be careful about assigning blame and assuming the motivations or knowledge of the people responsible, because you may not understand as much as you think you do. Throwing out accusations also polarises a discussion, often to the detriment of the original point.

Speaking of which, I've strayed off the original topic of this thread again. I just wanted to add to the discussion that the portrayal of Molly Brown in Boat #6 was an editing decision, not lack of knowledge or intent by either James Cameron or his advisor in such matters, Don Lynch.

Parks
 
Aug 15, 2005
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Quite right, Parks.
Back to the topic...
I, too, was rather disappointed at this scene, along with many others, including Murdoch firing his pistol carelessly and EJ turning his back on a young mother and infant in the final minutes of Titanic's struggle as she began to pivot on her centre of gravity; what was said had been turned around somewhat, but Kathy Bates' performance throughout the film made up for that inaccuracy in my opinion.
I'm not a fan of JC's Titanic, though... the imagery, yes, and the acting in a few cases, but that story was weak.
 
Feb 7, 2005
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>>I can find fault with any Titanic film, but I much rather prefer discussing what's good about each. There's a lot that I like about ANTR and there's a lot I like about "Titanic" (1997, 1996, 1953 -- and to a certain extent -- 1943 versions) and I see no point in arguing over which is "the best."<<

I agree with that! There are inaccuracies in them all, but how fortunate we are to have the many film versions of the story we do!

Cameron's "Titanic" was never meant to be historically accurate down to the details--it was meant to appeal to a wide audience and be a box office success. Compromises had to be made, but the end result was far better than I ever expected it to be. I remember all the negative press the film got before it ever hit the screen. I remember feeling more than a little anxious about it knowing that--by all accounts--this Titanic film was going to be a huge bomb. I was worried that this most recent version of the Titanic story would end up being nothing more than the answer to the trivia question "What Hollywood movie was the biggest box office disaster of all time?" How wrong they all were! And, while teenage girls did make up a big part of the audience (especially when the movie first came out), I believe the film drew well from every age group. People of all ages and backgrounds went to see it--and then went back to see it again.

Cameron could have rested on his laurels, but he didn't. Using what the success of "Titanic" gave him, he visited the wreck again and again, and then gave us GotA and LMotT. Hey, I'll take it!

Getting back to the original topic...I always wondered why Molly Brown was depicted the way she was in the scene that took place in lifeboat #6--now I know the whole story. Thanks, Parks, for letting us know what really happened!

Denise
 

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