Film Atlantic - Actress injured in recreation of Titanic scenes

Court of Appeal

Actress's claim under Workmen's Compensation Act

Armour v. British International Pictures Ltd.

(Before the Master of the Rolls, Lord Justice Slesser and Lord Justice Romer)

The court dismissed this appeal, from a decision of His Honour Judge Turner, sitting at Westminster County Court, which raised the question whether Mrs Marie Armour, known professionally as Miss Marie Mischel, who was injured while acting as a "crowd artist" in the production of the film Atlantic on board a liner in Tilbury Dock, was a workman within the meaning of the Workmen's Compensation Acts, and so entitled to claim compensation. The County Court judge decided that she was not.

Mr Heathcote, who appeared for Mrs Armour, said that his client had been knocked down, and her left knee seriously injured, to such an extent that it was doubtful whether she would again be able to take part in film production. She had been acting with 400 other "crowd artists" on board the liner, staging a scene representing the sinking of the Titanic and the rush for the boats.

It was difficult to say that Mrs Armour was not a workman; in other words, that she was an independent contractor, giving her services in her own way to achieve a certain result. Four hundred people doing each one as he pleased would achieve nothing but confusion. The County Court judge had not given weight to the control exercised over these "crowd artists."

The Master of the Rolls, in giving judgement, said the question was a simple one, namely whether the appellant had entered into a contract of service; or whether she had merely agreed to render certain services. It was a question of fact, and the County Court judge, having heard all the evidence, had decided as a fact that Mrs Armour was not the servant of the respondents. It was not for the court to interfere with his decision on a question of fact, and the appeal must be dismissed.

Lord Justice Slesser and Lord Justice Romer agreed.    

(The Times, Wednesday July 30, 1930, p. 4)


Senan Molony

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