We may be sinking under the weight of Titanic memorabilia in this centenary year, but Roy Ward Baker’s terrific 1958 melodrama remains by far the best screen representation of the tragedy. Kenneth More is a paragon of industrial strength stiff-upper-lippedness as Lightoller, the second officer who attempts to hold fast when the big ship starts to go down.
‘A Night to Remember’ may lack the glitzy digital effects of the 1997 movie (it’s hard to imagine James Cameron shooting his effects sequences in Ruislip Lido), but it’s a far more gripping and imaginative film, filled with visual detail and inventive camera trickery. Baker cuts to the chase – the iceberg strikes 30 minutes in – and maintains tension with consummate skill: not an easy task when the outcome is already known.
Notably, this is also a more politically astute work than either the Cameron film or Julian Fellowes’s idiotic ITV mini series, nailing with broad, confident strokes the class divide which allowed so many to die unnecessarily.