TITANIC (1953) B/W 98m dir: Jean Negulesco
w/Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Thelma Ritter, Brian Aherne, Richard Basehart, Allyn Joslyn, James Todd, William Johnstone
From The Movie Guide: "The Titanic disaster of April 15, 1912 has been filmed several times, and this time the tragedy gets the full Hollywood melodrama treatment. Stanwyck is the mother of two children and the wife of Webb, whom she is leaving, because he is a snobbish socialite. She is taking her children back to America with her to keep them from their father's corrupting influence. Webb manages to get passage on the ship by buying the third-class tickets of a Basque family whom he has persuaded to catch another ship. He and Stanwyck have a number of confrontations on board before she drives him away once and for all by telling him that her son, Harper Carter, is not his child. Wagner is a young college student who falls in love with Dalton, Stanwyck's daughter. Basehart is a priest defrocked for alcoholism. The ship's captain, Aherne, is pushing for a record crossing-time, and is ignoring warnings of icebergs in the area. Finally the inevitable disaster strikes the 'unsinkable' ship, and an underwater spur on a berg tears a long hole in the side of the ship. Before long, the ship begins to list, and the passengers start for the lifeboats, only to discover that there are entirely too few to hold all of them.
"Despite an overly melodramatic main story line, the film is quite effective in conveying the panic and the calm of the sinking. A 20-foot-long model of the ship is featured in scenes of the sinking which are a tour de force of special effects. Even the actors were effected by the magnitude of the tragedy they were re-creating. Stanwyck later said: 'The night we were filming the scene of the dying ship in the outdoor tank at Twentieth Century-Fox, it was bitter cold. I was 47 feet up in a lifeboat swinging on the davits. The water below was agitated into a heavy, rolling mass and it was thick with other lifeboats full of women and children. I looked down and thought: if one of these ropes snaps now, it's good-bye for you. Then I looked up at the faces lining the rail, those left behind to die with the ship. I thought of the men and women who had been through this thing. We were re-creating an actual tragedy and I burst into tears. I shook with great racking sobs and couldn't stop.'"
TITANIC won an Oscar for Best Story and Screenplay (Charles Brackett, Walter Reisch, Richard Breen). It was also nominated for Best Art Direction (Lyle Wheeler, Maurice Ransford, Stuart Reiss).