Raise the Titanic (1980)

PG | 122 mins | Drama | 1 August 1980

Director:

Jerry Jameson

Producer:

William Frye

Cinematographer:

Matthew F. Leonetti

Production Designer:

John De Cuir

Production Company:

ITC Films
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HISTORY

       A 20 Oct 1979 LAT article stated that Marble Arch Productions president, Martin Starger, and partner, Lord Lew Grade, purchased film rights for $450,000 in mid-1976.
       A 22 Dec 1976 HR news item stated that writer-producer-director Stanley Kramer had been hired to co-write the screenplay with screenwriter Adam Kennedy. According to the 20 Oct 1979 LAT, writers Arnold Schulman, Eric Hughes, and Millard Kaufman were brought on to polish and revise the script. Although the filmmakers considered hiring another screenwriter, Kennedy, who had generated three earlier drafts, returned to write the final screenplay.
       During the 1976 Operation Sail event that celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, Kramer, with the help of six cameras and a crew, shot footage of the parade of ships in New York Harbor and the Hudson River. Through optical effects, the hope was to insert the Titanic in the midst of the pageantry for the film’s memorable climax. However, a brief in the 29 Dec 1977 DV announced that Kramer withdrew from the project after a year, due to “creative differences.”
       According to a 26 Feb 1980 HR article, actor James Stewart read Clive Cussler’s source novel in 1978 while vacationing at a secluded ranch in Mexico, and recommended it to producer William Frye. However, as Frye was aware of Kramer’s involvement, he did not pursue the project. Later, the film’s director, Jerry Jameson, called Frye to tell him that Kramer had left the production, and Frye met with Starger. Two weeks later, he was hired as producer. A 15 Jun ... More Less

       A 20 Oct 1979 LAT article stated that Marble Arch Productions president, Martin Starger, and partner, Lord Lew Grade, purchased film rights for $450,000 in mid-1976.
       A 22 Dec 1976 HR news item stated that writer-producer-director Stanley Kramer had been hired to co-write the screenplay with screenwriter Adam Kennedy. According to the 20 Oct 1979 LAT, writers Arnold Schulman, Eric Hughes, and Millard Kaufman were brought on to polish and revise the script. Although the filmmakers considered hiring another screenwriter, Kennedy, who had generated three earlier drafts, returned to write the final screenplay.
       During the 1976 Operation Sail event that celebrated the two-hundredth anniversary of the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence, Kramer, with the help of six cameras and a crew, shot footage of the parade of ships in New York Harbor and the Hudson River. Through optical effects, the hope was to insert the Titanic in the midst of the pageantry for the film’s memorable climax. However, a brief in the 29 Dec 1977 DV announced that Kramer withdrew from the project after a year, due to “creative differences.”
       According to a 26 Feb 1980 HR article, actor James Stewart read Clive Cussler’s source novel in 1978 while vacationing at a secluded ranch in Mexico, and recommended it to producer William Frye. However, as Frye was aware of Kramer’s involvement, he did not pursue the project. Later, the film’s director, Jerry Jameson, called Frye to tell him that Kramer had left the production, and Frye met with Starger. Two weeks later, he was hired as producer. A 15 Jun 1980 LAHExam reported that Frye later observed that work on the production felt more like “doing three movies at the same time.” A complete underwater unit filmed in Malta, while a separate unit worked in England out of Pinewood Studios with painters, artisans, and matte work. Another American crew worked in Los Angeles, and San Diego, CA, Washington, D. C., and Alaska.
       A 28 Mar 1977 LAHExam “Letter to the Editor” announced that actor Charles Bronson would star in the picture but he does not appear in the film. According to a brief in the 21 Nov 1979 Var, thirty-one employees worked as background actors in the newsroom of the Washington Star newspaper, which was used for filming.
       A 30 Nov 1979 HR production chart and the 20 Oct 1979 LAT announced that principal photography began 16 Oct 1979 with additional locations in Greece, and England. A six-month schedule was divided into twelve-weeks of first-unit photography, and an additional twelve-weeks to accommodate second-unit photography with models and miniatures. Although the 29 Dec 1977 DV stated the film’s budget was $14 million, costs would escalate to $40 million, according to a brief in the 30 Jul 1980 HR.
       The 20 Oct 1979 LAT reported that the production began shooting on Stage 3 at CBS Studio Center in Studio City, CA. According to production notes in AMPAS library files, interiors of three submersibles were filmed at the Studio City location. The sets corresponded to floating vessels filmed in San Diego Bay, and radio-articulated miniatures filmed in a tank in Malta. In addition, a natural cave in the Hollywood Hills was disguised to look like a byzanium mine in the film’s opening sequence by liberally spreading twenty-three tons of shaved ice on tunnels coated in white and clear plastic. Afterward, piping hot steam hoses were brought in to melt the ice. Additional outdoor scenes were filmed in San Diego at U. S. Naval facilities. The navy provided aircraft, vessels, personnel and equipment that included “a flotilla of seven working ships.” Of these, the U. S. S. Denver was used as the command center for the Titanic salvage operation, and C. S. Longlines, a ship used to lay telephone cable in international waters, was used to portray the Mikhail Kurkov, a Russian spy ship. Other U.S. locations included Rockwell International in Anaheim, CA, the Jefferson Memorial, and the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D. C. Scenes were also filmed aboard a luxury yacht on the Potomac River, at Andrews Airforce Base and the National Archives in Maryland. The Wilson glacier in Anchorage, AL, doubled as the remote island on which the byzanium mine was located.
       A 16 Jan 1980 Var news item stated that the production finished two weeks of location filming in Athens, Greece. Articles in the 26 Feb 1980 HR and Jul 1980 Los Angeles magazine reported that Athenai, an abandoned American luxury liner in a ship graveyard in Port of Athens was towed to sea every morning by tugboats for certain sequences, where the raised Titanic was needed. The lookalike ship only had two smokestacks instead of four, and was half the length of Titanic, but the right camera angles and sharp editing minimized the differences. For the sequence in which the raised ship arrived in New York City, the cast and numerous Greek background actors wore American fashions on the docks in Athens when the cost of towing the ship to the real location proved to be prohibitive.
       A Jun 1980 Millimeter article reported that a sequence in which submersibles repaired Titanic’s hull was accomplished by outfitting the underwater equipment with a diver equivalent manipulator system (DEMS), provided by General Electric. Additional advanced electronic equipment was leased at a cost of $500,000 from Hewlett-Packard of California and the U. S. Navy.
       The 26 Feb 1980 HR and Millimeter articles stated that the film’s second unit ran into problems using the nine million-gallon tank built in Malta at a cost of $2 million. Three remote-controlled submersibles that had tested well in Marineland aquarium located in Palos Verdes, CA, jammed due to the higher salt content in Malta’s water, and adjustments had to be made. When radio signaling was not possible, articulation was accomplished with the help of invisible wires, according to production notes.
       Action sequences aboard the raised Titanic were also filmed, using a ten-ton, fifty-five foot replica of the real luxury liner, built from original blueprints of the Titanic, provided by Belfast, Ireland’s, Harland and Wolff Shipyards, according to the 20 Oct 1979 LAT and Los Angeles. A 6 Aug 1980 LAT article reported that the raising of the prop ship was accomplished using cables attached to its sides pulled by a crane arm, as well as an elaborate catapult that propelled the ten-ton model to the surface.
       In the 15 Jun 1980 LAHExam, Frye indicated that the picture would have to earn between $70 million and $75 million to break even. However, a news item in the 20 Jan 1982 Var reported that the movie’s receipts were just under $7 million upon its release in the United Kingdom, and much less in foreign territories, although exact figures were not made public at the time.

      End credits state: “Filmed at Studio Center, Hollywood, and on locations in the United States, Greece, England, and at Malta Film Facilities, Malta.” The following acknowledgments appear in end credits: “Producers wish to acknowledge the contribution of the following companies or organizations in the making of this picture: Amatek, Straza Division Equipment, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Klein Associates, Sony Video Products, Spectra Physics, Rockwell International, Lockheed Ocean Laboratory, Enline Camera Systems, Hill Production Service, Transoceanic Cable Ship Company, Meridian House International, Oceanic Navigation Research Society and Charles Ira Sachs, Transatlantic Research, Sandecker’s Office provided by National Trust for Historical Preservation.”
More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
29 Dec 1977.
---
Hollywood Reporter
22 Dec 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Nov 1979.
---
Hollywood Reporter
26 Feb 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
30 Jul 1980.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Aug 1980
p. 2.
LAHExam
28 Mar 1977.
---
LAHExam
15 Jun 1980
p. E10.
Los Angeles
Jul 1980.
---
Los Angeles Times
20 Oct 1979
Part II, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
6 Aug 1980
p. 1.
Millimeter
Jun 1980
p. 159.
New York Times
1 Aug 1980
p. 8.
Variety
21 Nov 1979.
---
Variety
16 Jan 1980.
---
Variety
6 Aug 1980
p. 22.
Variety
20 Jan 1982.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Lord Grade Presents
A Martin Starger Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
2d unit dir
Prod mgr (U. K., Malta), European unit
Prod mgr (Greece), European unit
Asst prod mgr (Greece), European unit
2d asst dir (U. K., Greece), European unit
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam op
1st asst cam
2d asst cam
Key grip
Key grip
Key gaffer
Still photog
Dir of photog, 2d unit
Dir of photog, Full size underwater inserts
Dir of photog, Addl seq
High speed cine (Malta)
Gaffer
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec, Washington D.C.
Prop master
Prop master
Supv of const
Supv painter
Set dec
Const coord
COSTUMES
Ward supv
MUSIC
Mus ed
SOUND
Prod sd mixer
Boom man
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Glen Glenn P. A. P. systems
Sd mixer
Boom op
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff supv
Model & mechanical eff supv
Dir - model unit (Malta)
Dir of photog - Model unit (Malta)
Matte eff supv
Main title des
Titles & opticals by
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Casting
Casting
Scr supv
Tech coord
Prod coord
Prod secy
Boat master
Transportation capt
Prod auditor
Unit pub
Tech adv
Tech adv
Navy tech adv
Post prod supv
Prod supv, European unit
Prod asst (Greece, Malta), European unit
Prod accountant, European unit
Ultracam 35 cam provided by
STAND INS
Stuntman
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel Raise the Titanic! by Clive Cussler (New York, 1976).
AUTHOR
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 August 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 August 1980
Production Date:
16 October 1979--mid April 1980 in the U. S., England, Greece, and Malta
Copyright Claimant:
ITC Films, Inc.
Copyright Date:
26 January 1981
Copyright Number:
PA99252
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
Color
Lenses/Prints
Filmed in Technivision®
Duration(in mins):
122
MPAA Rating:
PG
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In an abandoned Russian mine on Svardla, an island in the Arctic Circle, Koplin, an American mining engineer, registers signs of radioactivity on his Geiger counter, and stumbles upon a frozen corpse. A plaque rests nearby that states Sgt. Jake Hobart of the U. S. Army froze in a storm on 10 February, 1912. In Washington, D. C., Dr. Gene Seagram and Adm. James Sandecker brief other top military brass that Koplin has gone missing after he was sent to find byzanium, a rare mineral that would serve as the primary power source for force field technology that could prevent missile attacks. Back on Svardla, a Russian soldier wounds Koplin, and commands his dog to attack. As the engineer fends off the dog, a former American Navel Intelligence officer named Dirk Pitt appears and shoots both the Russian and his dog dead. Pitt transports Koplin back to the U. S. for medical attention. On the way to the hospital, Dirk tells Seagram and Sandecker that Koplin discovered the mine had been stripped of byzanium probably seventy years earlier when the U. S Army sent soldiers to mine the mineral. Later, Seagram and his girl friend, reporter Dana Archibald, spend time fishing on the river, but soon, a helicopter interrupts them to summon Seagram to an important meeting with Sandecker. There, Pitt tells the men that in 1912, the mined ore was set to be shipped on a commercial liner from Southampton, England, to America, but Russians killed most of the men involved. One man named Arthur Brewster stowed the byzanium on board the Titanic, ... +


In an abandoned Russian mine on Svardla, an island in the Arctic Circle, Koplin, an American mining engineer, registers signs of radioactivity on his Geiger counter, and stumbles upon a frozen corpse. A plaque rests nearby that states Sgt. Jake Hobart of the U. S. Army froze in a storm on 10 February, 1912. In Washington, D. C., Dr. Gene Seagram and Adm. James Sandecker brief other top military brass that Koplin has gone missing after he was sent to find byzanium, a rare mineral that would serve as the primary power source for force field technology that could prevent missile attacks. Back on Svardla, a Russian soldier wounds Koplin, and commands his dog to attack. As the engineer fends off the dog, a former American Navel Intelligence officer named Dirk Pitt appears and shoots both the Russian and his dog dead. Pitt transports Koplin back to the U. S. for medical attention. On the way to the hospital, Dirk tells Seagram and Sandecker that Koplin discovered the mine had been stripped of byzanium probably seventy years earlier when the U. S Army sent soldiers to mine the mineral. Later, Seagram and his girl friend, reporter Dana Archibald, spend time fishing on the river, but soon, a helicopter interrupts them to summon Seagram to an important meeting with Sandecker. There, Pitt tells the men that in 1912, the mined ore was set to be shipped on a commercial liner from Southampton, England, to America, but Russians killed most of the men involved. One man named Arthur Brewster stowed the byzanium on board the Titanic, and the shipment is at the bottom of the ocean. Later, Pitt suggests the best way to retrieve the byzanium is to raise the ship since its location is too deep to send divers. Although it is a gamble, Pitt believes the navy possesses submersibles that can pull off such a salvage operation. Sandecker is convinced, and later secures funding from the president. Soon, Pitt and Seagram begin their expedition with help from Capt. Joe Burke and Master Chief Vinnie Walker. At a briefing, Pitt informs top military personnel that they will search for the Titanic in a triangle-shaped area, where historical accounts last reported the ship’s location. Later, Sandecker informs Pitt that he should pay a visit to a Titanic survivor named John Bigalow, a junior third officer who was in charge of cargo on the ship. Bigalow distinctly remembers the vault was placed in cargo hold No. 9 on D deck. When Titanic began sinking, Brewster threatened Bigalow with a gun, and demanded to be taken to vault No. 9. There, Brewster wrapped himself around the container, muttering, “Thank God for Southby.” Later, the expedition sends several submersibles to the ocean floor. Soon, one submersible develops a leak at 12,000 feet, then loses contact. The vessel starts to sink after it takes on too much water, and implodes. Later, Pitt and Sandecker question Seagram’s findings from his experiments with a miniature Titanic. After breaking a smokestack off the model in repeated experiments, Seagram detected new coordinates ten miles away, where the ship’s wreckage most likely can be found. Soon, a submersible retrieves a cornet with an inscription to Grant Farley, one of Titanic’s musicians. Seagram thinks it is a sign that they are close to the ship, but Pitt is skeptical. Meanwhile, a Russian spy informs his superiors that the Americans are searching for byzanium in Titanic’s ruins. During another search, both the Sea Cliff and Deep Quest submersibles register the presence of objects on their sonar. As they approach a solid mass, Pitt recognizes the Titanic’s detached smokestack. As the submersibles travel underwater, the ocean floor disappears, causing the vessels to descend further. Soon, onboard metal detectors show frenetic activity, as Pitt, Walker and others see the faint outline of the Titanic on their monitors. The vessels glide along the side of the ship until they see its name written on the hull. Back in the U. S., the Russians leak a story to the media, revealing that the Americans have found Titanic with byzanium onboard, and point out Sandecker’s involvement. Elsewhere, Sandecker holds a press conference and explains that submersible crews will patch Titanic’s holes, foam will be pumped into the ship to make her buoyant, and allow the team to raise the ship to the surface. Reporters ask questions about byzanium and its purpose, but Sandecker does not respond. Later, he arrives on the lead expedition vessel with clues on how the Russians are obtaining their information. As the submersibles further investigate Titanic, Deep Quest becomes wedged in a skylight when it tries to untangle some debris. When Pitt and his crew return to the surface, he says that they will have to accelerate their plan to raise the ship in order to save the men on Deep Quest before they suffocate. Pitt proposes a series of explosive charges that will loosen the ship and allow it to float to the surface. Just when it seems like the plan will fail, instruments indicate movement from the ship, and its steel shell creaks and groans as it rises. Nearby, the Deep Quest resurfaces, and crew members arrive in a raft and rescue the scientists. Soon, Pitt boards the wreckage and wanders through rooms stacked with furniture and mold clinging to the walls. While other crew members pump water out of Titanic, Russian Capt. Prevlov sends Sandecker a message requesting permission to come aboard. Prevlov demands the Americans return the stolen byzanium, so that his country can use it for its own military defenses. If they refuse, a Russian submarine waiting nearby will sink Titanic. In answer to Prevlov’s demands, Sandecker takes him on deck. There, they watch a U. S. submarine surface and fighter planes appear above. Prevlov realizes he has lost the battle and leaves on his helicopter. Soon, Titanic is towed into New York Harbor, and crowds gather at the pier to welcome her. Once the ship is moored, Pitt and Seagram open the vault and find Brewster’s body. They remove seven containers filled with gravel, but no byzanium - only Brewster’s personal papers. Meanwhile, Pitt shows Seagram a postcard that Brewster never mailed with a caption identifying a church and graveyard in the country village of Southby, twenty miles from Southampton, England. They both realize then that Brewster’s last words were about the location not a person. Later, Pitt and Seagram travel to Southby. At the grave of Sgt. Jake Hobart, Seagram’s instrument registers a heavy concentration of radioactivity, but he decides not to have the grave exhumed after Pitt tells him the decision is his. As the men walk away, Pitt explains that he recently told a friend he did not change the world because he was outnumbered. +

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

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