Posted in: Disc Reviews by David Annandale on August 3rd, 2003
Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck are an estranged couple aboard the Titanic. In ahilariously caricatured Europe vs US conflict, he is elitist snob, and she is the paragon ofMidwestern values, fighting to save her children from corruption. Naturally, Webb will redeemhimself once the ship starts sinking. Though the focus on these two characters gives the storya firm centre, the result is very soap-operatic. The sinking scenes in the last 30 minutes are good,but very sanitize… — the impression is that the tragedy was a very dignified affair from start tofinish, and no third class passengers were ill-treated. Entertaining, but can’t hold a candle toA Night to Remember, which remains the definitive Titanic movie.
The sound is available in both 2.0 and the original mono. The stereo remix is a mixedblessing. There are some good surround sound FX, notably when the water starts pouring in.There aren’t enough sound effects to create an environment, however, and some of the soundsget the surround treatment when they shouldn’t (such as the clink of a teacup). The dialogue hassome unfortunate wraparound characteristics, and some of the noises coming out of the rearspeakers are rather harsh. The music is a bit on the tinny side too. All this should be temperedby the fact that the movie is 50 years old.
The print is in terrific shape. The format is fullscreen, and that represents only a minormodification from what looks like was 1.37:1 originally. The image is close to pristine:extremely sharp, and the grain and speckles are very minor. The same is true of the edgeenhancement.
The Studio Classics series continues its fine tradition of being simply loaded with extras.There are two commentary tracks. The first, by critic Richard Schickel, is interesting, though heoften seems to be at a loss to say anything about the movie itself, and he is certainly not blindto its flaws. The second track features cinematographer Michael Lonza, historian Silvia Stoddard,and cast members Robert Wagner and Audrey Dalton. This track features plenty of technical,behind-the-scenes and historical information. “Beyond Titanic” is a 94-minute A&E-styledocumentary on the Titanic and its place in popular culture. There is some fascinating footageof the 1943 German propaganda version of the story, and the close juxtaposition ofTitanic with A Night to Remember re-emphasizes how superior the latter is.There are also two Movietone newsreels (one of the premiere, the other of the movie’s Oscarwin), the theatrical trailer, a still gallery, and “Titanic Aftermath” — an audio essay by Stoddard.The menu is basic.
An entertaining movie, if outclassed by other versions of the story. The extras, however, arevery good, and make this DVD more than worth the rental.
Special Features List
- Audio Commentary by Richard Schickel
- Audio Commentary by Robert Wagner, Audrey Dalton, Michael Lonza and Silvia Stodddard
- “Beyond Titanic” Documentary
- 2 Movietone Newsreels
- Still Gallery
- Theatrical Trailer
- Audio Essay by Silvia Stoddard