Time to revisit that fateful night in April, 1912, for the sinking of the Titanic. No, this isn’t the 1997 film, it’s the black-and-white 1953 version, starring Clifton Webb, Barbara Stanwyck and Audrey Dalton.
Well, we all have enough of an idea about the sinking of the Titanic, so I’ll keep my story comments to the Sturges family, which is what this movie focuses on. Julia Sturges (Barbara Stanwyck) gets on the ship with her children, Annette (Audrey Dalton) and Norman (Harper Carter). She is trying to get away from her society-climbing husband Richard (Clifton Webb), so she can go back to America and raise her children to not be snobs. However, Richard finds out and gets on the ship by buying a ticket from another passenger. He finds her, but she is determined to go on with her plan. The kids are another matter, since she hadn’t told them her plan, and her daughter decides she will return with her father. As they fight, it is discovered that Norman is not Richard’s son, but the result of a brief moment of infidelity for Julia, which results in Richard pushing himself away. Of course, everything changes when the ship hits that infamous iceberg.
I am mainly coming off my first viewing of this movie, but I did enjoy it. I mainly saw it because of actress Barbara Stanwyck. I have only seen a few of her movies so far, but I have liked her in all of them, so I felt it was worth trying out. I certainly enjoyed her performance, and it seems she has received a lot of praise, especially for the sequences when they were loading the women and children on the boats (and apparently, when they filmed it, it really hit her just what it must have been like for the people who were actually on the ship, as opposed to just reading or hearing about it, since the tragedy did occur when she was a little girl herself).
Now, it is hard to discuss this movie without at least comparing it some to the currently better known film from 1997. The effects here were a lot more practical than the ’97 film, as they used small models of the boat. However, it is really difficult to tell, and I think that it holds up better here than the CGI used in the ’97 film, which at this point certainly looks a lot more dated as computer technology continues to improve. And of course, as I said, the ’53 version is black-and-white, but that shouldn’t stop people, as the movie itself still looks wonderful, and I certainly think it works. The ’53 film version is a lot more family-friendly than the ’97 version (and is much shorter, too, clocking in at one hour, thirty-eight minutes, which works very much in its advantage). I don’t know how accurate it is (obviously, the Sturges family is fictional, and the “unsinkable” Molly Brown is here renamed Maude Young, probably due to some issues getting the rights from her estate), and I assume some things were discovered when they finally found the ship on the ocean floor back in the 1980s. However, THIS is the version I like, and I would recommend it very much to anybody that is curious about it!
The movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Twentieth Century Fox.
Film Length: 1 hour, 38 minutes
My Rating: 10/10
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