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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Nearer My God to Thee . According to a Sep 1952 LAT news item, Twentieth Century-Fox used the working title because of initial problems registering the title Titanic . A modern source reports that Passenger List was another working title. The opening credits of the picture include the following written prologue: "All navigational details of this film--conversations, incidents and general data--are taken verbatim from the published reports of inquiries held in 1912 by the Congress of the United States and the British Board of Trade." At the end of the film, over a shot of the lifeboats, offscreen narrator Michael Rennie states: "Thus, on April the 15th, 1912, at 0220 hours, as the passengers and crew sang a Welsh hymn, R.M.S. Titantic passed from the British Registry."
       The film's story is based on the sinking of the White Star line's R.M.S. Titanic , which, on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City, struck an iceberg near Newfoundland. The incident took place shortly before midnight on 14 Apr 1912 and the vessel sank within three hours. Considered "unsinkable," the Titantic was one of the largest and the most luxurious ocean liners of its time. Although the characters of the "Sturgess" family are fictional, many of the characters in the film are based on real people, including Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim and Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus. The character of "Maude Young" is based on the wealthy, outspoken American Molly Brown, who was one of the estimated 705 survivors. Over 1,500 ... More Less

The working title of this film was Nearer My God to Thee . According to a Sep 1952 LAT news item, Twentieth Century-Fox used the working title because of initial problems registering the title Titanic . A modern source reports that Passenger List was another working title. The opening credits of the picture include the following written prologue: "All navigational details of this film--conversations, incidents and general data--are taken verbatim from the published reports of inquiries held in 1912 by the Congress of the United States and the British Board of Trade." At the end of the film, over a shot of the lifeboats, offscreen narrator Michael Rennie states: "Thus, on April the 15th, 1912, at 0220 hours, as the passengers and crew sang a Welsh hymn, R.M.S. Titantic passed from the British Registry."
       The film's story is based on the sinking of the White Star line's R.M.S. Titanic , which, on its maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City, struck an iceberg near Newfoundland. The incident took place shortly before midnight on 14 Apr 1912 and the vessel sank within three hours. Considered "unsinkable," the Titantic was one of the largest and the most luxurious ocean liners of its time. Although the characters of the "Sturgess" family are fictional, many of the characters in the film are based on real people, including Mr. and Mrs. John Jacob Astor, Benjamin Guggenheim and Mr. and Mrs. Isidor Straus. The character of "Maude Young" is based on the wealthy, outspoken American Molly Brown, who was one of the estimated 705 survivors. Over 1,500 people, including the majority of the crew and steerage passengers, died. Modern critics often site the inadequate number of lifeboats, and the fact that some of the lifeboats were only partially filled, as reasons for the tremendous loss of life. The surviving passengers and crew were eventually rescued by the Carpathia , and investigations into the tragedy resulted in stricter enforcements of general maritime safety measures. The incident was one of the major news stories of the 20th century. The wreckage of the Titanic was found in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard and his crew. Numerous artifacts have been recovered by divers and tourists continue to visit the site.
       According to a Jul 1938 NYT article, independent producer David O. Selznick was interested in making a picture about the sinking of the Titanic , to be directed by Alfred Hitchcock. That film was never produced, however. In 1944, HR noted that Seymour Nebenzal was to be producing a film based on the subject, with the original story to be written by Rowland Leigh. That production was also never realized. Sep 1952 HR news items announced that Terry Moore was being considered for a role in Titanic , and that Margaret O'Brien was the "top candidate" for the part of "Annette Sturgess." A 5 Dec 1952 HR news item includes Joyce Newhart, George Boyce and Duke Seba in the cast, but their appearance in the completed film has not been confirmed. A modern source adds Joan Hayes and Bert Stevens to the cast. Audrey Dalton was borrowed from Paramount for the production. According to the film's pressbook, technical advisor Commodore Sir Gordon Illingworth had served as the captain of the Queen Mary . The film contains a medley of college songs, for Amherst, Cornell and others, sung by "Giff" and his friends.
       In May 1953, Life reported that several survivors of the tragedy attended an Apr preview of the film in New York and found it "depressingly realistic when the ship hit the iceberg and went down." As noted in the MPHPD review, the picture's world premiere was held at the Norfolk Navy Base in Virginia on 11 Apr 1953, in conjunction with the U.S. Navy Relief Ball. The film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Art Direction (b&w) and won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Story and Screenplay). Titanic marked the screen debuts of Frances Bergen, the wife of comedian Edgar Bergen, and Melinda Markey, the daughter of actress Joan Bennett and producer Gene Markey.
       Among the many films depicting the sinking of the Titanic are the 1912 short Saved from the Titanic , directed by Etienne Arnaud and starring Dorothy Gibson; the 1929 German-British-French co-production Atlantic , directed by E. A. Dupont and starring Franklin Dyall and Madeleine Carroll; the 1996 made-for-television movie Titanic , directed by Robert Lieberman and starring Peter Gallagher and Catherine Zeta-Jones; and the 1997 Paramount and Twentieth Century-Fox release Titanic , directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Walter Lord's bestselling book about the Titanic served as the basis for both a 1956 television movie, which was directed by George Roy Hill, and a 1958 British picture directed by Roy Baker and starring Kenneth More and Honor Blackman. Both of the works based on Lord's book were entitled A Night to Remember .
       The disaster also inspired numerous sub-plot points in films, novels and television programs since 1912, including The Unsinkable Molly Brown , No Greater Love and The Chambermaid on the Titanic . It also has been the subject of several television documentaries, as well as the basis for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical Titanic (New York, 23 Apr 1997), directed by Richard Jones, with book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Apr 1953.
---
Daily Variety
15 Apr 1953
p. 3.
Film Daily
16 Apr 1953
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jul 1938
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Jun 1944
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
8 Sep 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Sep 1952
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Oct 1952
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Oct 1952
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Oct 1952
p. 13.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Oct 1952
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Dec 1952
p. 6, 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Dec 1952
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1952
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 1953
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Apr 1953
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
13 Apr 1953
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1953
p. 3.
Life
18 May 1953.
---
Los Angeles Times
26 Sep 1952.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Apr 1953.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Apr 1953
p. 1798.
New York Times
27 May 1953
p. 26.
New York Times
28 May 1953
p. 27
New York Times
31 May 1953
sec. II, p. 1.
New Yorker
6 Jun 1953.
---
Newsweek
18 May 1953.
---
Time
27 Apr 1953.
---
Variety
15 Apr 1953
p. 6.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Alberto Morin
Pat O'Moore
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Ward dir
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
SOURCES
MUSIC
"Londonderry Air," traditional.
SONGS
"Nearer, My God, to Thee," words by Sarah Adams, music based on the hymn "Bethany," arranged by Lowell Mason.
DETAILS
Alternate Titles:
Nearer My God to Thee
Passenger List
Release Date:
May 1953
Premiere Information:
World premiere in Norfolk, VA: 11 April 1953
Los Angeles opening: 18 April 1953
New York opening: 27 May 1953
Production Date:
23 October--8 December 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
18 April 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2621
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
97-98
Length(in feet):
8,783
Length(in reels):
12
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16223
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In April 1912, wealthy American ex-patriot Julia Sturgess leaves Cherbourg, France, with her children, seventeen-year-old Annette and young Norman, to board the luxurious ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic on its maiden voyage from England to New York City. Already aboard the ship are a large number of promininent American socialites and English aristocrats, as well as a sizeable crew and many steerage passengers. At the boat dock in Cherbourg, Julia's husband, Richard Ward Sturgess, a well-known sophisticate, convinces the Uzcadums, Basque immigrants headed for America, to sell him Mr. Uzcadum's ticket. Meanwhile, as Annette boards the Titanic , she catches the eye of American college student Gifford Rogers, but rejects his advances and later complains to Julia about their unpreposing table in the grand dining room. Much to Julia's surprise and the delight of the children, they are joined by Richard, who, when the children are sent off on errands, accuses Julia of kidnapping Annette and Norman. Julia proclaims that she is taking the children to America to rescue them from Richard's snobbishness and provide them with a life as normal American children instead of European wanderers. Richard protests, asserting that Julia will ruin their lives and force Annette to marry "some rural bumpkin." Although the couple are polite in front of the children, in private, Richard declares that he should have known better than to attempt to civilize a girl who bought her hats from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. The following morning, Giff approaches Julia, who takes an instant liking to the affable young man and promises to speak to ... +


In April 1912, wealthy American ex-patriot Julia Sturgess leaves Cherbourg, France, with her children, seventeen-year-old Annette and young Norman, to board the luxurious ocean liner R.M.S. Titanic on its maiden voyage from England to New York City. Already aboard the ship are a large number of promininent American socialites and English aristocrats, as well as a sizeable crew and many steerage passengers. At the boat dock in Cherbourg, Julia's husband, Richard Ward Sturgess, a well-known sophisticate, convinces the Uzcadums, Basque immigrants headed for America, to sell him Mr. Uzcadum's ticket. Meanwhile, as Annette boards the Titanic , she catches the eye of American college student Gifford Rogers, but rejects his advances and later complains to Julia about their unpreposing table in the grand dining room. Much to Julia's surprise and the delight of the children, they are joined by Richard, who, when the children are sent off on errands, accuses Julia of kidnapping Annette and Norman. Julia proclaims that she is taking the children to America to rescue them from Richard's snobbishness and provide them with a life as normal American children instead of European wanderers. Richard protests, asserting that Julia will ruin their lives and force Annette to marry "some rural bumpkin." Although the couple are polite in front of the children, in private, Richard declares that he should have known better than to attempt to civilize a girl who bought her hats from a Sears & Roebuck catalog. The following morning, Giff approaches Julia, who takes an instant liking to the affable young man and promises to speak to Annette on his behalf. Julia then returns to her cabin, where Richard informs the children that instead of attending a family reunion, as Julia had told them, she intends to keep them in America. Annette, who shares her father's snobbishness and prejudices, is horrified and tells Julia that her home is in France. That evening, Richard allows Norman to purchase his first pair of long pants, while Annette attempts to make amends to Julia for her temper tantrum. Richard sends the children on to the dining room, then confronts Julia, who asserts that she has given up hope of transforming Annette but refuses to let go of Norman. Richard states that he will never allow her to have custody of Norman, and, in desperation, Julia reveals that Richard is not Norman's father. After dinner, while Annette is reluctantly dancing with Giff, Julia reveals to Richard that Norman is the product of a romantic encounter she had with a kind stranger after Richard had humiliated her at a party. Crushed, Richard replies that he never wants to see Norman again, then begins a game of bridge with Maude and their friends. The next morning, 2d Officer Lightoller, concerned about an iceberg sighting reported by another ship, asks Capt. E. J. Smith about the Titanic 's increased speed, but Smith gently dismisses his query. In the bar, Norman asks Richard to accompany him to a shuffleboard tournament, but Richard rebuffs the boy and keeps playing bridge. On deck, Annette apologizes to Giff for abandoning him on the dance floor the previous evening and confesses that she is unfamiliar with the latest American dance craze. Giff teaches her and after she leaves, happily tosses his hat into the water, on which bobs large chunks of ice. In the evening, Richard rudely ignores Julia's plea that he spend time with Norman, while Lightoller grows nervous upon receiving another report about an iceberg sighting. Smith decides not to alter course, however, as the sea is calm and he does not anticipate approaching any icebergs until the morning, when they will be easily visible. Below deck, Annette has spent a happy evening singing with Giff and his friends, and allows him to kiss her. At 11:36 p.m., when two sailors in the crow's nest spot an iceberg, the alarm is sounded, and the ship is steered hard to starboard. Although it seems, at first, that the ship will pass safely by the iceberg, it rips open the Titanic 's side under the water line, and Smith and Lightoller race to the bridge. As water pours in below decks, the watertight doors are closed, trapping numerous sailors. Smith orders his officers to begin preparing the lifeboats, and confides in Richard, who has come to investigate the noise, that there will not be enough room in the lifeboats for everyone. Richard assumes a bemused air as he goes to Julia's cabin and helps her and the children don their lifejackets and go on deck. While Richard then gets Mrs. Uzcadum and her children, another passenger informs Julia that only the women and children will be saved, and she realizes that Richard was putting on an act to keep them calm. After she watches Richard guide the Uzcadums to safety, she apologizes for considering him useless, and Richard admits that up to now, he has been. The couple pledge their eternal devotion, and Richard and Giff then watch as Julia, Annette and Norman board a lifeboat. As the boat is lowered, however, it stops at another deck and Norman gives up his seat for an elderly woman. Norman then searches for Richard, while Giff cuts another boat free and falls into the water. Smith asks the band to play, to comfort the remaining passengers, and Norman locates Richard. Although he is distraught that Norman will die, Richard proclaims how proud he is of his son and tells him that he loves him. Giff, who has been rescued, rows one of the lifeboats, and the survivors listen in silence as their doomed relatives and friends sing "Nearer, My God, to Thee" while the Titanic sinks. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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