The five greatest shipwreck movies ever made fact and fiction


Feb 14, 2011
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What would you list as the 5 greatest shipwreck movies in history?

My picks are-


(1)A Night To Remember- 1958- This film was a very accurate retelling of Walter Lord's book, and proved that fact is much more interesting than fancy.
Hands down the best shipwreck film ever made.

(2)Titanic (by James Cameron) 1997
The sheer accuracy and scale of the sets in this film cannot be matched, and the activities of the actual passengers and crew that lingered on the periphery curiously played second bannana to the main fictional characters.
Despite the fictional love story element, the film is breathtaking, and is a historic drama, adventure,romance and action film all rolled into one.

(3) "The Last Voyage",1960
starring the late Robert Stack and the Ille De France. What is breathtaking about this film was that the legendary French liner Ille de France was used as a floating set, and was partially sunk during the film. The French were so insesnsed that the name of the vessel was changed to the "Clarendon". Hands down the most accurate shipwreck film, as a real liner was sunk.

(4) "The Poseidon Adventure"-
Always a favorite fictional shipwreck tale, filmed on the Queen mary, the 'Poseidon' was capsized by a psunami, and a handful of survivors trapped in airpockets try to make it to the propellor shaft where the hull is thinnest. How they initially planned to break out of the hull once at that desitnation was never explored. Ernest Borgnine was particulary good as the resident jerk every adventure film must feature...

(4)Sink The Bismark! -
This classic film detailing the pursuit and sinking of the great German battleship Bismark is certainly the best film detailng the loss of a military vessel.

What are your 5 favorite shipwreck films?


Tarn Stephanos
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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If you're including wartime losses, Tarn, I'd include 'The Cruel Sea'. This is a very detailed and honest portrayal of the tedium and frustration as well as the horrors of the war at sea. While there is no concentration on the loss of any one vessel, the immediate effects of the sinking of numerous merchant ships as well as a couple of U-boats and the real star of the film - the corvette 'Compass Rose' - are shown in convincing and moving detail. The style of almost documentary realism is much like that of ANTR - both films were scripted by Eric Ambler.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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I haven't seen enough 'shipwreck films' to put up a top five list but will add my vote for The Cruel Sea, the story of Compass Rose and the men who served aboard her.

Both book and film are compelling - and thanks, Bob, I hadn't picked up the Eric Ambler connection with The Cruel Sea. (Snorkers, what-oh!) Naturally I had to race off to IMDB and check out Ambler's other writing credits. I knew about The Purple Plain (another favourite book and film) but didn't realise The Wreck of the Mary Deare was one of 'his' too or that he was an uncredited writer for the Brando version of Mutiny on the Bounty.

But, back to Tarn's question: I think I need to pop into Shelley & Co's Funnel Flicks thread for some inspiration.
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Bob Godfrey

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Fiona, there are some great anecdotes about the making of the 'Cruel Sea' on the link below. For the benefit of those who don't make the trip, my favourite is the unintended collision of the Coreopsis (playing the part of Compass Rose) with the serving destroyer HMS Camperdown, from which came the angry response "Who's driving your bloody wagon then? Errol Flynn?"

http://www.britmovie.co.uk/studios/ealing/filmography/72.html
 

Inger Sheil

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Good to see The Cruel Sea getting such a good show of hands. Monsarrat's novel (complete with dastardly, snorker eating Aussie) was a favourite when I was growing up, and the movie a fairly faithful adaptation. I hadn't seen it in years, but was flipping channels one Sunday in the gym while logging up the distance on the cross-trainer and came across it. Happened to tune in at the moment when the Captain has to make the wrenching decision to drop the depth charges, in spite of the fact that there are survivors from another ship in their convoy in the water. Cue a trickling of tears to mingle with the perspiration.
 
Dec 8, 2000
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Snorkers, goodo! To think I actually know people who really do say that... Thanks for the link Bob, I love that sort of behind the scenes detail (and have already made a start on finding a copy of the Ealing book the anecdotes are taken from
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Am still reeling from the plethora of fillums mentioned in the Funnel Flicks thread - more ship movies than you can poke the proverbial stick at and I've seen, er, virtually none. On that note, I think I should sit back and see what other nominations for the 'top five' roll in.

Cheerio chin chin,
F
 

Bob Godfrey

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Fiona, sales of 'The Cruel Sea' will now rocket as ET members flock to their local video stores, partly to see this wonderful film but mainly to find out what a snorker is. As a special bonus they'll also learn all about a bun in the oven. I have 'Forever Ealing', btw, and it's a great read. Mainly, of course, about the famous Ealing comedies.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Well, sihnce somebody mentioned Sink the Bismark, I'd like to put in a plug for The Enemy Below where Robert Mitcum played the part of a destroyer captain hunting a Nazi U-boat. You can read a bit more about the flick HERE.

This was not your routine war movie where reductive good guy bad guy stereotypes prevailed, but of two captains...both very good at what they do...in a protracted cat and mouse game with each other. This theme of an honourable enemy would be repeated nearly ten years later in the Star Trek episode Balance of Terror.
 
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Timothy Brandsoy

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What? GOTA isn't anybody's favorite yet?????

My list:
1) GOTA (Too short is my only complaint)
2) ANTR (Not perfect, but the best 'feel' to it)
3) Titanic 97 (Not perfect, stupid dialogue, but what a breathtaking recreation of Titanic!)
4) Lifeboat (Hitchcock and Bankhead! Does it get any better?)
5) The Poseidon Adventure (campy fun, gotta love the QM scenes!)
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Whats this, noone picked "Goliath Awaits", the amazing film of a sunken Queen Mary clone that retained air pockets, in which survivors and their descendants formed their own society.

I rather enjoyed the Black Beauty' film, where a ficticious liner named the Drake went to the bottom...

Also, has there ever been a film about the sinking oif the USS Indianapolis?


Tarn Stephanos
 

Bob Godfrey

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The USS Indianapolis story was told in 'Mission of the Shark', made about 10 years ago. Starred Stacy Keach and Richard Thomas.
 
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"Lifeboat" is definitely a fave.

Love the line of Tallulah's when the sailor told her she was all dressed up like she "was going some place."

Her cool, throaty retort (with the flick of an ash from her cigarette): "I WAS going some place, dahhling, I was going into a lifeboat."
 

Bob Godfrey

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For dvd collectors, there's a great value package currently available which comprises TWO of the films mentioned in this thread - 'Sink the Bismarck' and 'The Enemy Below'. I bought mine in the UK from www.streetsonline.co.uk for just £11.79. Don't know whether there's a Region 1 version for the USA. 'The Cruel Sea' is also now available on dvd - £10.79 from the same source.
 

Eric Paddon

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1-"A Night To Remember"
2-"The Poseidon Adventure"
3-"SOS Titanic"
4-"The Last Voyage"
5-"Gray Lady Down" (Okay, this is fudging a bit. It's about a nuclear submarine that collides with a freighter and the ensuing attempt to rescue the trapped crew from the bottom before the sub slides off a shallow ledge into the two mile depths.)

Also have to put in plugs for "Lifeboat", "Moby Dick" (1956) and "Sink The Bismarck" too.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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A new favourite of mine is 'Shackleton' (Kenneth Branagh et al). Incredible story of true events which unfolded soon after the Titanic disaster, including a shipwreck, the ultimate lifeboat survival drama, and LOTS of ice. Very highly recommended.
 
May 3, 2002
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Hey what about the CAINE MUTINY???
This is a great if old translation of Herman Wouks novel.

okay but not in any specific order of preference...

1 TITANIC
2 POSEIDON ADVENTURE
3 PERFECT STORM
4 ANTR
5 CAINE MUTINY
6 SOS TITANIC
7 TORA! TORA! TORA!

cheers

Martin
 

Dave Gittins

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I'll put in a claim for Morning Departure. Very British, very simple, very effective.

Has anybody seen San Demetrio, London? It's a true story of great courage on a burning tanker. Whether the film came up to it might be another thing. I think there may also be a film about Flying Enterprise and her brave captain. Any thoughts?