Walter Lord and Cameron's Movie


Mar 15, 2001
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I know its not been long since Walter Lord passed away. But I was wondering if Lords health was good enough at the time of the release of Camerons movie to enjoy some of the limelight that the movie brought to him? I think I remember reading that his best seller " A Night To Remember" has never been out of print and during 1998 even made to to #1 on the New York Times best seller list. I bet Lord was amazed at this and that the book made him a very wealthy man.

[Moderator's note: This thread was started in "General Titanica", but has been moved here. JDT]
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Did Walter Lord ever watch James Cameron's Titanic?

Hey there, everyone.

I'm sorry if I am repeating a question that has already been asked somewhere else, but I couldn't find any thread that addressed it, so I started this one.

Out of curiosity, does anyone around here know if Walter Lord ever watched James Cameron's Titanic? And if he did - or even if he didn't - can anyone tell me if he ever gave his opinion about it, and what said opinion was?

[Moderator's note: This message has been moved from "General Titanica." MAB]
 
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Bob Godfrey

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Lord was an adviser for Titanic and attended the London premier as James Cameron's guest. He was very impressed with the film and commented favourably on the authenticity of the sets and costumes and thought the special affects were "teriffic". "I thought the love story interfered a little with the story and I discussed that with Cameron. He said he hadn't wanted to do just another documentary about the Titanic. He was right. The love story has made it a cult film with teenagers." And for Walter Lord that's what really mattered - he approved of every new film version of the story because each one brought the Titanic and its passengers and crew to the notice of a new generation of movie-goers and that would help to create a new generation of serious students too.
 

Adam Went

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Apr 28, 2003
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I understand James Cameron approached not only Walter Lord but also the handful of remaining survivors and people involved with the Titanic for their input as well - as with a lot of Titanic enthusiasts he became especially close to Millvina Dean.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
Sep 10, 2012
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Well, call me what you will by what I'm about to say, but Walter Lord's opinion on James Cameron's movie seems surprisingly positive. I don't mean with this that I hate James Cameron's movie, or that I expected Lord to be thoroughly critical of it, but given some of the criticisms I have seen directed at Cameron's Titanic, I'm a bit surprised Lord wasn't more critical on some of the more disliked scenes (such as Cal's supposed bribing of Murdoch, or the infamous suicide scene, or the lookouts being distracted from their duty by watching Jack and Rose "expressing their love" on the forward well deck).

But that's just me.

Thank you very much for the replies to mine and Darren's questions.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Walter Lord was a very good-natured man, and I spoke above of his public response. It would have been entirely characteristic of him to emphasize the positive aspects of Cameron's film and play down or keep to himself any negative thoughts about it. I daresay that he would in truth have preferred to be watching a dramatised documentary like ANTR, but filmed with the technical advances (and the budget!) available to Cameron 40 years later. But he really did believe that any publicity for the Titanic was good publicity, and that an entertaining feature film, despite its fictional content, would encourage curiosity to learn the true facts. Certainly it increased sales of his own books!
 
Sep 10, 2012
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But he really did believe that any publicity for the Titanic was good publicity, and that an entertaining feature film, despite its fictional content, would encourage curiosity to learn the true facts.

Well, it certainly had that effect on me, given that it was after I watched James Cameron's movie that I got interested in learning more about the real ship and the real sinking.

But regarding what you said about a 'dramatised documentary'... with all due respect, and not wishing to start up an argument, I'm not sure that type of movie would be as successful as Titanic was. However, in fairness to all those who wish to eventually see such a thing come to light, I believe it can be very successful, as long as it is done properly.

Does anyone know of any member who is a skilled enough scriptwriter to give it a try?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Certainly a less fictionalised version of the story would not have done so well at the box office, and on reflection Lord accepted that. He knew that back in 1958 the film version of A Night to Remember had been very well received by the New York critics but didn't much appeal to American movie audiences. It was filmed in black & white when colour had become the norm for big productions; it had no 'stars' (at least none recognised as such in the US); and crucially, for all its merits, it was relentlessly depressing - as real disasters tend to be!
 

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