TV Version of A Night to Remember Now on Video


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Mar 20, 2000
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All,

Some may already be aware of this, but Kinevideo now has out the 1956 NBC-TV version of Lord's "A Night to Remember," which was originally produced live on the Kraft Television Theatre Program and later re-broadcast by popular demand. One review I read mentioned the teleplay made use of 7 cameras and 31 sets which must have been a feat for those days.

Here's the link to Kinevideo. The video is $15.00. "ANTR" is listed as vol. 9. Scroll down for ordering info:

http://www.kinevideo.net/dramas.php

Randy

[Moderator's Note: Link updated 2/26/07. MAB]
 

Joshua Gulch

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Mar 31, 2001
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Randy,
Thanks for the info! Just ordered it! Woo-hoo!

happy.gif


Josh.
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Hi Randy!

Thanks for the heads up on this video. However, I would urge you, Josh and anyone else thinking about buying it to ask first about the quality of the video. I have seen a tape of the Kraft Television Theater's version of "A Night To Remember" and it was, to say the least, VERY rough. It looked as if it had been taped from the original broadcast over a tv with very bad reception - scrambled images, blurred and snowy scenes, etc. The reason I worry about this one is the version I saw ALSO, like this one, came on a double bill with "Ernie Barger Is 50" starring Ed Begley.

I guess it's the old case of caveat emptor - anyway, doesn't hurt to ask. Hopefully, this one is a clear copy. It's fascinating to see live tv in action and especially with such a mammoth production as this one. If I recall, Claude Rains narrates and Patric MacNee plays Andrews.

Best regards,
Cook
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Cook,

Thanks. You're right that one should be wary; the price of $15.00 does seeem too good to be true, come to think of it! But as it may be the only copy available for a long time it could be worth seeing even with the defects.

Do you remember if the Duff Gordons were portrayed - or Edith Russell? What about your own Mr. Beesley?

Randy
 
Oct 28, 2000
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In 1956 there was no video tape. The only way to record a program was to put it on film via the "kinescope" process. This machine transferred the 60 frames per second of the TV image to 24 frames per second of film. To do this, some of the movie frames had to be exposed to two TV frames. That's part of the reason for the blur. The other part of the reason is the inherent fuzzness of the TV picture. So, what is being offered is probably an accurate copy of a professionally-done kinescope. At best, it is a pale shadow of the original program. But that was all anyone could do before video tape.

For those of you who are too young to remember, there was a day before 6-transistor radios and pong games when TV was "live" because it had to be done that way. And, TV cameras were big, hulking things on cast aluminum pedistals that took two men to move.

I remember the first practicable video tape machine, vintage 1962. It took up five 19-inch racks with just vacuum tubes (little glass things that got hot and glowed orange). The tubes created so much heat that the machine needed its own private air conditioner. And, the tape transport was another box about 4-feet wide. Due to the limitations of those vacuum tubes, we could record a color program, but only play it back in black & white.

Ah, those were the days...

-- David G. Brown
Once-upon-a-time TV Producer
 

Pat Cook

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David's quite right, as those of us old enough to remember. It was quite literally the "Golden Age of Television" with many anthology series going out live.

To answer Randy's question, yes the Duff Gordons are in it, only briefly as they loaded into their lifeboat. However, L Beesley was not (I only know of one version of the story where he's portrayed by an actor).

A little background for those interested - this from TV GUIDE, April 28 - May 4, 1956. The production presented by Kraft Television Theater was the largest ever mounted at that time and was directed by George Roy Hill. It required 7 of those bulky cameras David mentioned, 31 sets and 107 actors (72 with speaking parts). It was performed first live and then a kinescope shown a short time later in a repeat performance.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Joshua Gulch

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I was discussing this with Bill last night. I'm buying it more for the novelty of owning it rather than getting all worked up over the quality. This is one I've been wanting to see for a while and never had the chance to, so there's my motivation behind buying it. So when it comes in I'll report back on the quality of the film.

happy.gif


Josh.
 

Kate Bortner

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May 17, 2001
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Josh, please let us know what it's like. After hearing David & Cook's accounts of it's production I am more eager than before to see it.
Wow! 72 speaking roles in live tv is amazing! Way to keep those actors employed!!!
-kate.
 

Pat Cook

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I hasten to add the show is definitely worth having, even in a rough state. If you can view it with the idea of what television was like at that time it is quite extraordinary - a sweeping, moving event. And to have done all this live! It's almost unbelieveable (now where have we heard this word?)

And, in answer to a couple of emails I've received, yes, the production also shows the Californian and such moments as the firing of the socket rockets and spotting of the iceberg are done by cutting to film for the images and then back to the live action as the people involved react to what they see.

Also, for those movie and tv fans, there is a wealth of character actors in it. Besides Rains and MacNee there are also such venerated 'bit players' as Bradford Dillman, Walter Burke, Leonard Stone, Woodrow Parfey, the list goes on and on. And the director, George Roy Hill, would go on to make such movie classics as "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" and "The Sting".

Definitely worth the 15 bucks!

Just my humble opinion there, folks.

Best regards,
Cook
 

Pat Cook

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Forgot to mention this - the production runs just under an hour (that's all the time the series was alloted back then).
 

Kyrila Scully

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Patrick MacNee also portrayed a new husband whose wife suffers from terrible premonitions before and during their honeymoon on >>drum roll<< the Titanic. . . in an episode of "One Step Beyond".

Kyrila
 

Joshua Gulch

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The video has arrived! Actually, it came last Friday, but I didn't get a chance to watch it until tonight. But here's my rundown.

Concerning the image quality, Cook was right. It is rather blurry, but concerning its age and that it was made for live television, that ought to be taken into account. It's a bit blurry, and the sound sometimes fluctuates a little, but not so much as to deter the quality of the production.

As far as Titanic films go, it's surely not the best. It's 50 minutes long and if you thought the motion picture ANTR was like a documentary, then this is even more so, with the host narrarating the whole thing. That's a bit irritating, but in only 50 minutes, you gotta get the information across somehow. He sounds as if he's just reading from a book at times.

The Californian isn't portrayed in the best light, with Lord saying he'd be in the chartroom, and a few scenes later the host announces that "Captain Lord had finally gotten to sleep." Lordites will likely cringe at this treatment of the Cap'n.

The acting isn't too hot either. There's a steward at the beginning who sounds like a stereotypical snoody British uppity fellow. And the fellow who does the "Won't you make a try for it Mr. Andrews?" line is so over the top I had to rewind it and watch it again. It really was kinda funny. Then a chandeleer falls on Andrews and the room fills with water from the wrong direction. Oops.

Sets were okay, given the budget. The grand staircase and smoking room sets are identifiable, though not entirely accurate. But they're pretty close.

All in all, I'd recommend this for anyone who has a true interest in Titanic. It's not the Night to Remember wall grew up on, but it's a nice little short flick. Not at all advised for those who rate Titanic as a couple of troublesome kids running around raising havok with pretty shots of a ship doing stuff in water and getting broken.

If anything, it's a nice little novelty to add to any Titanic collection.

Josh.
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Josh,

Sounds like it was worth it even in such an old format. Certainly it's a must-have for us die-hards. Thanks for posting a review.

Do you have a copy of Atlantic (1929), the early talkie based on the Titanic sinking? Grapevine Video offers it for a reasonable price.

Randy
 

Joshua Gulch

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Randy,
Yes, I do have a copy of "Atlantic," and sometimes the picture quality between "Atlantic" and the TV ANTR are comparable. The fuzzy and overly bright spots. Funky sounds at times.

But still, it was an interesting show, and featured some incidents not depicted in all other tellings of the story. I'd still recommend it to anyone interested in the tragedy.

Also, in my review I forgot to mention the special effects shots. In total, there are about three (five if you count the funnel whistles shown in every Titanic film). They were really out of focus, and looked as if they'd been taken from another movie. My guess would be the Nazi propoganda film, since I didn't recognize the shots 'cause I've yet to see it. Kyrila could probably answer this one.

Josh.
 
Feb 21, 2005
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There is a version of 'ANTR' that was made for TV prior to the famous 1958 big screen hit that was narrated by Claude Rains that, to my knowledge, has not been seen for a very long time.

I was curious to know if any copies of this still exist and where I could get my hands on one.

Any help, as always, would be most appreciated.

Thanks!
 
T

Timothy Trower

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It does exist -- I've a VHS copy that I obtained from a video pirate on the east coast. And, for live television, quite well done.

[Moderator's Note: This message and the one immediately above it, originally a separate thread, have been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 
Jul 12, 2005
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I got a legal copy from a Television Museum in Chicago in 1991. It cost $75 and I had to sign a ream of paperwork that I would never duplicate it, show it for paid admissions, etc. I donated the VHS copy to the Fall River museum where the Fox Titanic 1953 model is on display. I think the Kraft Co. in Chicago has an archives and might make a copy for non-profit groups. Also, THS has announced that their October, 2007 meeting in Massachusetts is about Titanic movies, so they might show the copy I donated to FRMM. Robert H. Gibbons
 
Feb 21, 2005
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Thanks guys!

I didn't even see that there was already a thread out there on this. Nice to know that the thing still exists.

I'd love to attend the THS meeting since Titanic movies seem to have become my major area of study in the last couple of years. Maybe I should write a few articles one of these days for ET on the history of Titanic in film. *shrug*

$75?? Sheesh! That's a lot but I'm glad you got to have it and it's very nice of you to donate it to the museum. I've always wanted to see that Titanic 53 model too. Maybe I'll have to make a trip to the Fall River Museum one of these days when I can actually afford to walk out the front door!
 
Jul 12, 2005
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Matt: I think I have mentioned this before, but TV GUIDE did a color feature on the making of the Kraft tv version of "A Night to Remember" for the week in 1956 when the program was aired LIVE! It was called "A Ship Sinks in Brooklyn" or something very close to that, and showed color photos of the sets. Many of the crowd scenes and sinking scenes were from the Nazi Titanic film. The program was shown again a few weeks later, probably from a kinescope film. Robert H. Gibbons
 
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