Night to Remember, A (1958)

A Night to Remember (1958), directed by Roy Ward Baker.

Still said to be the most accurate Titanic movie, it doesn't have the budget or special effects of later efforts, but is nonetheless a meticulous recreation of the ship and events. Fine period details in clothes and fixtures. Surviving passengers and crew consulted on the production.

We have a quick introduction to the maiden voyage and a select set of passengers from each class. Kenneth More is heroic Second Officer Lightoller, who survived. Then the iceberg at about 30 minutes in.

We know the story and the inevitable progress of the disaster, shown almost in real time. That makes it a kind of horror movie, with a difference: the crew performs well in getting the women and children to the boats and the passengers are at first more peevish than panicked. People behave rather well with many instances of heroism and sacrifice, but it's understandable that when the boats are all gone and the ice-water rising, conditions will become more chaotic. Then the deck tilts drastically and there is nothing to do but scramble and pray.

There are no real villains, just bad luck and a series of accidents. We tend not to like Ismay, the officious White Star chairman who jumps into a lifeboat with the women, just as we admire stoic ship builder Andrews who does everything he can and then goes down with the ship. The captain and crew of the nearby Californian don't come off very well.

Sean Connery is supposed to have an uncredited bit but I didn't spot him. Honor Blackman was Miss Galore in Goldfinger (1964) a few years later.

The commentary track is by two enthusiastic Titanic historians, praising the film for its accuracy and attention to detail, but also pointing out errors and fictionalizations. Many fascinating tidbits:

Criterion Blu-ray with a superbly detailed image. Good grayscale, maybe a bit over-bright at the white end. Available for rent at ClassicFlix.

Wasn't the 1953 Titanic with Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb announced for Blu-ray a while ago? Amazon has Marketplace listings but nothing in their warehouse. It's been years but I recall it as a soap opera with the disaster as incidental background. (Later: the Blu-ray appeared).