It was made before any serious research had been done into the sinking - even pre- Walter Lord. If they had went to find a book, all they would have found was the 1912 'rush' books - things cobbled together from the wilder newspaper articles of the time.
In all probability, the people making the movie had little interest in the 'historical' side of things. They got a few basic facts, and built a fiction around it. This kind of thing is done all the time.
I agree that the 1996 TV mini series was the worst. The 1953 Barbara Stanwyck-Clifton Webb film was not accurate in its details but did a good job conveying the tragedy, heroism and loss involved. I saw it on TV as a youngster when I was a Titanic newbie and it really impressed me! I think it's still a good story. And...where else can you learn how to do the "Navajo Rag" from a handsome tennis player from Purdue?! ;-)
SOS Titanic, the three hour version, had a lot to offer. I never met a Titanic movie I didn't like. The casting was right on the money for Ismay and most of the main characters. I will say David Jansen was a poor candidate for Astor -beard and all.Very wooden and unconvincing. Too bad the 2-hour version chopped out some of the best deck scenes including the great sequence when Madeleine was doing a little shopping from the vendors allowed to show their wares. The price on that Irish lace bed jacket was pretty steep! The only bit which did not quite ring true was the Susan St. James and Beesely pairing. The look into steerage was the first time we got a bigger picture of how it might have been in any detail. The scenes with Martin and the steerage girl were so poignant and believable. The Turkish bath scene was also very convincing with the boys gazing wistfully at the Countess of Rothes. When I think of the times, and lack of special effects technology, the matte work for SOS was superb as was the sinking sequence. There was a lot to like about the sets and costumes too. I'm not sure I quite bought Cloris Leachman's treatment of Molly Brown, but most of the legendary figures we wanted to see made an appearance, without having to make up a lot of fictional people and story lines. In praise of this attempt, I would also add it was such a thrill to see the Titanic in color for the first time-for other than ANTR what else was there? My least favorite if I had to pick one would be Raise the Titanic. But for the magnificent score, breath-taking sequence of the ship rising from the deep, and haunting scenes of her interiors and arrival in New York, there was very little to be commended, and huge historical errors, horrendous casting and acting.
I don't know that *any* actress can ever do justice to Margaret Tobin Brown. The people who best understand her aren't the people writing the scripts. That's why one tends to see the mythic caraciture as opposed to the reality.
"Titanic" (1953) was the first Titanic movie I ever saw. Also the second DVD on the subject I've acquired. (IMHO The commentaries are more interesting than the film.) I didn't give it much thought at the time, except I was a great fan of Clifton Webb.
And to think I paid good money to see it at a downtown San Diego theater's first run on a lowly Second Class Petty Officer's pay ! (I was in the USN, stationed on a ship in San Diego, at the time.)
"I live to serve !" - The Purser on "Titanic - Adventure Out Of Time"
I know "Titanic" (1953) is noted for its long list of errors of o-mission and co-mission....but...would it have been very likely for a member of the Purdue U. Tennis Team to have been traveling in First Class, much less being seated at The Captain's Table ? (You can probably chalk this up as being "dramatic license.")
A Night To Remember was the first Titanic film I ever saw and for me it created a benchmark. So I was thrilled when they came out with the color version SOS Titanic. But this severely paled in comparison and even as a child I could tell that they tilted the camera on many interior shots to show the 'tilt'of the ship. One day a different B&W version of Titanic came on and I thought it was A Night To Remember. Boy, I was in for a treat! A version of Titanic I didn't know about! At first I didn't like it because it was no where near like A Night To Remember and it did have quite a few side stories (just like what James Cameron did). But I grew to like it. Maybe too what helped is that I am a Barbara Stanwyck fan. But still it is an enjoyable film. There were of course the many inaccuracies, but one thing was different with this film. It gave a subtle hint of the break up. Near the end of the movie you hear quite a few explosions. While in later movies this was dismissed, there are many actual testimonials that do mention explosions. Now just before the Titanic makes it's final plunge when everyone on the ship is singing at the end, there is one final explosion and then it appears that the decks collapse a bit. It is plain as day and you can see the people fall down as the floor beneath them drops. Then the Titanic takes its final plunge. So while the rather horrible 1996 TV movie was the first to depict the actual break up and separation, I found it very interesting that this film threw that little scene in there. Oh, and after all these years...even though James Cameron's Titanic comes really really close. "A Night To Remember" is STILL my benchmark.
Personally, I found that the writers who made this film didnt do their homework. All the sets are horribly overdone. The "Navajo rag" was like Chinease Water Toture. They changed the name to Molly Brown, and there was no Mr. Andrews!!!! PLus
I would of found watching white paint drying on a wall, or watching a plant grow more intresting than Brian Aherens Captian Smith! He was unconvicing and wooden.
BUT the film have ONE save.
The romance between Stanwick and Webb was touching and beleivable. They made this film and with out them, this moive would of sunk as fast as the Titanic in this film.
As an accurate historical account "Titanic" (1953) probably rates at the bottom of the list.
Ismay wasn't on board, either, but on the other hand neither were (thank goodness !) Rose and Jack!
As a drama of the soap opera - domestic squabble -type it's not all that bad and Stanwyck and Webb do make the movie. (I'm a Clifton Webb fan.
Besides , Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton and I are about the same age - another saving quality.
There are some snappy lines and the movie did receive an Academy Award for "Best Writing, Story and Screenplay". New York Times Review :"Overflows with gripping emotion."...If you can find all that hard to believe !
However, this was in 1953, before Walter Lord and Robert Ballard.
"Then trail behind him at a respectable distance !"