A Night to Remember
opening in 1958, A night to remember was every bit the
blockbuster, the Titanic 3D of its day. It differs from James
Cameron’s character-driven opus in that it takes a more expansive view:
showing us, one at a time, each and every person who is believed to have
contributed to the ship’s fate, as well as anecdotal stories from
various passengers and crew. It’s an honest and accurate dissection of
what went wrong, but also a human drama, and full of touching moments.
There is a
very large cast of ensemble characters, most of whom only receive a
small amount of screen time. At various times we are introduced to a
group of rowdy passengers from the lowly ‘steerage’ class, the ship’s
captain, designer and 2nd officers, as well as the captains
and crew of some of the other ships which were in Titanic’s
vicinity at the time of her sinking. Because of this large cast, the
movie can be difficult to follow at times. Thankfully it narrows its
vision in the final act, settling on the character of 2nd
officer Lightoller (Kenneth More) to tell the most harrowing part of the
One of the
most poignant scenes in the movie comes when a group of bedraggled
steerage passengers, having been denied access to the lifeboats, finally
break through and stand in the deserted first-class dining room. A
night to remember has a strong moral point to make, and it doesn’t
shy away from difficult subject matter.
thought of the movie is that no one person was to blame for the
disaster; arrogance was to blame. Arrogance gave the ship the
title of ‘unsinkable,’ and ensured that she went to sea without the
proper provision of lifeboats.
today, the production values of A night to remember can stand up
to scrutiny. Yes, the exterior scenes clearly show a toy boat bobbing on
the water, and yes, the iceberg looks like a misshapen hunk of
Styrofoam, but these are very small quibbles. The sets and costumes are
as lavish as anything hollywood has been able to produce in the
meantime, and some clever tricks have been employed to give the
impression of a slanting deck.
?The making of A night to remember:
This bonus footage looks to have been filmed sometime in the 1970’s,
and the presentation looks outdated. It is made up of interviews
with the film’s producer, William MacQuitty, and the author of the
preceding book, Walter Lord. There is some interesting info here,
but the documentary has a very long and rambling quality that will
almost certainly put you to sleep.
Original trailer and split-screen
restoration: A narrated trailer, followed by before-and-after
restoration shots from key moments in the film. These make you
appreciate just how much they’ve managed to clean up the image
Production notes: Roy Ward Baker: Some
scrolling text which lists the professional achievements of the
Original costume notes: Concept
drawings of some of the period costumes, accompanied by informative
Press and publicity: A slideshow of
some of the many posters that were produced to advertise the film.
Behind the scenes gallery:
Black-and-white stills of the sets and actors, with text to describe
General production gallery: Yet more
stills, this time from the finished film.
picture quality is very crisp, providing an excellent contrast between
black and white elements on the screen. The scenes of the ship leaving
in front of hat-waving crowds are still hazy and heavy with artefacts,
but these consist of actual footage from 1912, and are impressive for
that reason. The film is book-ended by an adventurous orchestral score
which perfectly sets the mood. Voices and sound effects are all clearly
film has been restored and brought back to life, making good use of the
Blu-ray format. It’s a very fitting release for the 100th
year anniversary of the Titanic disaster.