The Roots of Titanic History

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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Walter Lord's book "A Night to Remember" set the standard for Titanic research and inspired hundreds, maybe thousands, of people to study the history of Titanic. This movie adaptation of his book by William MacQuitty played a key role in bringing the history of the Titanic to millions. And in the promotions for the movie, many, many Titanic survivors were located and finally told their stories.

But enough about the effect -- let's talk about the movie itself. ANTR does not have the fancy computer digitalization and minute detail that Cameron's movie had, but it is still a much better movie. And it takes MacQuitty only two hours to tell the story that Cameron needs more than three hours to repeat.

If you watch ANTR and then Cameron's movie, you will notice a lot of similarities -- indeed, many of the latter's ideas seem to be copied from ANTR.

If you don't have a copy of "A Night To Remember" already, you should get one soon before all the Titanic hype slows down and it becomes hard to find.

Another good video is The Making of "A Night To Remember." Even though it wasn't made until 1993, 35 years after the movie, this tape is a little harder to find than ANTR. It has some interesting notes in it, like the fact that some Titanic survivors actually appear in ANTR, including Lawrence Beesley, Edith Russell, and 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I saw the film of ANTR for the first time in years just recently and was amazed at just how bad it is.

Its best point is that it doesn't have the equivalent of Jack and Rose to fill it with BS. Other than that, its pretty typical piece of English movie making for the period. All stiff upper lips and toffy accents.

There is simply no attempt to play the characters involved. Kenneth More as usual plays Kenneth More and has no resemblance at all to Lightoller, who spoke with a Lancashire accent and an exceptionally deep voice. In a strange twist, the radio operators are a bunch of old codgers. One, I think it's Cottam, must be 50 not out.

How Walter Lord let them get away with the launching scene is a mystery.

One virtue of the film is that it's in black and white. It thus gives a rather better idea of the night than Cameron's wonderfully lit Atlantic, which is simply hilarious.

ANTR remains a period piece and will interest those who like English movies of the time.
 
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Erica Monty

Guest
I personally think that ANTR was wonderful. I cried harder during it that the new Titanic. I think it was well done for it's time period and it is never a good idea to over analize a movie!
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I stick with my comments. The bridge of Titanic was filled with regional accents, the most obvious being Murdoch (Scots) Lowe (Welsh) and Lightoller (Lancashire). In those days before radio and TV encouraged uniformity, even upper-class Englishmen often spoke with marked accents. Cameron made a small attempt to get it right, though his Lightoller had no resemblance to the real person. ANTR made no attempt at all and the antique radio operators were laughable.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Dave -

Minor point. Lowe did not have a Welsh accent. Although he was born and died in Wales and considered it his home his entire life, his personal identity was distinctly English.

I'd add Boxhall and Moody's Yorkshire accents to your list. The gentle Yorkie brogue in Boxhall's audio interview is unforgettable!
 
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Aurora Brynn

Guest
I liked the movie and laughed at the Dave's comment about the wireless boys looking ready for the gereatics ward. THIS casting for boys who were 20-25? And it was Jack & Cyril who looked the oldest...I thought the actor who played Thomas Cottam was the one saving grace of wireless casting. He actually looked and acted like Thomas. He's the only one who showed much flair and emotion. Everyone else (wireless boys at least) spoke in a monotone. Even "Why don't you send SOS? It's the new call and may be your last chance to use it" was said so blah!

Aurora
 
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Elaine Barnes

Guest
Gosh,Professor Higgins would have been proud of you guys. Us Yanks wouldn't know a "gentle Yorkie brouge" from a "Lancashire" if we heard one.
Elaine
 
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Scott Blair

Guest
Hi Inger

You mention a audio interview by Boxhall .

Where can this be found ?

Also I have a short bit of Lightoller's talk
on the BBC.Is the full version available ?

Finally I gather that folk from Hanley the
home of EJ Smith have a marked accent and
given his humble origins I wonder if he
retained it ? Any thoughts /info on this.

Scott Blair
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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Hi, Scott,

I hope Inger doesn't mind my jumping in here but I thought I might be of some help.

There is a two-cassette recording of many passengers and crew from the Titanic telling their own stories - crew members such as Lightoller, Boxhall and, from the Carpathia, Capt. Rostron, passengers such as Edith Russell, Eva Hart, Milvina Dean, etc. The title of the recordings is "THAT FATEFUL NIGHT - True Stories of TITANIC Survivors - In Their Own Words!", published by Bantam Doubleday Dell Audio Publishing Group, Inc., 1540 Broadway, New York, NY, 10036

I add that I am in no way affiliated with this company and sometimes you can find one of these for auction on Ebay. In fact, I believe there is one there now.

Hope this is of some help.

Warmest regards,
Cook
 

Inger Sheil

Member
Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo, Cook and Scott -

That's probably the most accessible source for Boxhall. We came across it by a long (and convoluted!) means.

Elaine - Now, wouldn't an American know a 'Joisey' accent from a NYer? English regional variations are endlessly fascinating to someone who, like myself, comes from the far side of the world. I'm particularly partial to the Northern Welsh, the Scousers, and the Yorkies...it is a pity that no Titanic movie has had a version of the latter for the Titanic's officers.

One bit of casting that was very well done in ANTR was that of James Moody, even if Michael Bryant was a trifle too short to play the broadshouldered Yorkshireman who left an impression on those who met him of height and slenderness. His colouring was right (as much as one can determine colouring in B&W), and his facial structure not a bad approximation. Certainly more accurate than Edward Fletcher in Cameron's movie. I was also pleased to see the pro-active role given to him, even if it was largely to serve as a foil to Lightoller.

Best wishes,

Ing
 
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Scott Blair

Guest
Hi Pat and Inger

Many thanks for your quick response on this one . I'll try to get a hold of the cassette .

Scott Blair
 

Nigel Hampson

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Jan 11, 2006
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A night to remember on DVD.

If you have a DVD player then get ANTR because you get the whole making of documentary on the reverse side of the disc. It also gives you both the original American and British cinema trailers - which were quite different by the way.

And by the way - IM a Yorkshireman!!!!

Nigel Hampson
Sheffield England
 

Greg Bullias

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May 2, 2010
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Hi all. I happen to have both movies on video. ANTR is my pick of the 2. Cameron's movie is good, don't get me wrong. It seems more of a love story/greed trip (Bill Paxton's character seemed interested only in getting the diamond). But I'll take ANTR over Cameron's any day.
 
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Karen Rock

Guest
Greg,
I did enjoy Camerons Titanic but ANTR is also my favourite. While the new movie looked great and probably gave us the best visual guide to what it was really like on that night, ANTR, for me, captures all the human tragedy. There are some parts, near the end, that are quite difficult to watch, even now, after so many viewings.
 

Greg Bullias

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May 2, 2010
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Karen,
I know what you mean by "difficult to watch". I still get a tear in my eye every time I watch it. I guess I just have a soft heart. I guess the main reason I like ANTR better is because I am a fan of B&W movies. Todays movies are good, but the old ones are the best. (I know I'll get a lot of flak for that remark.)
 
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Karen Angstadt

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Nigel, do you know where I could get ANTR on DVD?? Karen
 

Becky

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Jul 17, 2009
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I agree with the ANTR guys So much of Camerons Titanic was wasted on Jack and Rose(puke)Titanic needed no make belive The story of Titanic before,during and after is enough.However the visual aspects of the 97 movie was spectacular. I'll give Cameron that.