Thursday, April 12, 2012

Titanic (1953).

I first saw the 1953 Titanic, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, back in 2010. At the time, the only other film (not including documentaries) that I had seen about the Titanic was the famous '97 one. So I was really struck by the difference in the two.

This Titanic is about a couple on the verge of separation because of the society they've been a part of. The wife takes their two children and leaves for America (where she's from), and her estranged husband buys a steerage ticket from an immigrant so he can follow her and attempt to stop her plans. During the trip, the couple argues over custody of their children, and a family secret is brought out.

This film, like the '97 one, involves anger and disagreements and family issues, and yet it has a completely different feel. It focuses on admitting mistakes and redemption and hope. There really aren't any scenes of the chaos and panic going on during the sinking (which I realize probably isn't realistic). While the ship is going down in the '97 film, you've got craziness and corruption and a furious ex-fiancee chasing people around with a gun. This film ends on a note of peaceful resignation, and even a bit of hope (more than you would expect), with the passengers left on the ship all joining together singing what is debated to be the last song played by the Titanic band, the hymn Nearer My God to Thee.

With its emphasis on the emotional, fictional family drama that's happening, the '53 Titanic doesn't put an awful lot of effort into historical accuracy. :) Everything from some of the costumes to how the ship sank is a little...wrong. But I don't really mind.

It's not historically accurate, it's a little overly dramatic and/or cheesy at times, and the special effects aren't anything special. But this is probably still my favorite Titanic film. This is the one that I'm most likely to rewatch as simply a good classic movie, rather than strictly a "Titanic movie."

I like the priest subplot, and I love the romance between the daughter and the college boy. Really sweet. :) I also like the scene of the first class chapel/church service {wasn't it incredibly convenient that all of the major fictional characters were attending, amongst all of the famous historical people, like the Astors? :)} By the way, is it just me, or was J. Bruce Ismay completely left out of the plot? I don't think I saw him anywhere. And if so, this is probably the only Titanic film not to include him.

I guess it's just nice to be able to enjoy a fictional story in the Titanic setting without having to deal with all of the problematic content that comes along with the '97 version. :)

P.S. I just realized that the DVD version I own includes one of the sections of the great Titanic documentary I mentioned, the part called Beyond Titanic. It's the section that tells about all of the film, stage, and book adaptations, among other things. I had no idea! Pretty cool for an inexpensive DVD to include a 1.5 hour documentary as one of the special features. :)

Until next time,


  1. I really like Stanwyck in this film. :)

  2. I love this film too! I am a collector of vintage film costumes and lucky enough to have a few things from this production as well. Stanwyck was amazing in it yes :)


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