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Disaster Porn Saturday Night: A Night to Remember

The Titanic begins her final plunge as survivors watch in horror

The Titanic begins her final plunge as survivors watch in horror

After The Poseidon Adventure fueled my taste for seaworthy disasters, I remember not being too excited about this movie when I first saw it either as a late-night movie or on one of the afternoon matinee movies every city had with some hacktor who would hawk movie trivia or spin the wheel for prizes.

It wouldn't be until my birthday in 1999 that I truly appreciated this classic.

Of course, we all know the story of the sinking and as this was the first film, I still think there are too many characters, and we really don't get to know any of them.

As the movie starts, Second Officer Charles Herbert Lightoller (Kenneth More) and his wife Sylvia (Jane Downs) are on a train sharing a car with Mr. and Mrs. Bull (Julian Somers and Rosamund Greenwood) while he makes fun of an ad for the ship. Both Bull's are upset with what they're hearing and Sylvia tells them that it's alright, since her husband is going to work on the ship.

The Bull's change their tune and become interested in his profession as they ask him questions galore while this scene fades out to other passengers making their way to the ship.

Standing outside their mansion, a group of schoolchildren wave to Sir and Lady Richard (Patrick Waddington and Harriette Johns); a newlywed couple, The Clarkes (Ronald Allen and Jill Dixon) and some steerage passengers all head to their respected Fate on board the ship of dreams.

Because of all of the crew members and passengers that the movie tries to highlight, it's hard to keep up with who's who and what their role in the storyline is. Some of the characters are in a scene or two.

Take for instance Edith Russell (Teresa Thorne) who returns to get her stuffed pig. She goes into her cabin, grabs the pig and after leaving, the scene ends with some stuff falling off of the dresser, while advancing the story by showing more listing of the ship. Following this scene, she just becomes someone in a lifeboat.

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Then there's the crews of the Californian and Carpathia where there are minor characters as well. After a while, they all tend to blend into one another.

But the best part of the movie are the special effects.

For a movie that was made in 1957, the special effects are spectacular when the water starts to come on deck and passengers are scurrying around. It truly is amazing and brings realism to the scenes.

If it weren't for the special effects, this could have been just a boring movie but because there's no CGI, you can't help but get wrapped into the story and another good point is it doesn't take forever for the ship to hit the iceberg.

Don't get me wrong, I do like the other incarnations of the movie (there's only so much of a story here) for a variety of reasons, but this is probably the best of the lot and again its because of the effects.

And through all of the tragedy of the night, it's George Rose as Chief Baker Charles Joughin who pretty much steals the movie. His drunken and comedic moves are timed just right, so if there's one person to invest your time in, it's his time on screen.

I'm hoping that one day there's a newer version of the movie which would focus more on survivors after being rescued and how they dealt with the aftermath of the sinking.

Those untold stories could be interesting.


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