Follow us on:






1953ís TITANIC ($20) is much like James Cameronís epic version of the tale, insomuch that it places fictitious protagonists at the center of historic tragedy and then creates a romantic story in the best soap opera fashion. Barbara Stanwyck stars along with Clifton Webb as Julia and Richard Sturges, an unhappily married couple making the sailing home to America on board the maiden voyage of the Titanic. Because Julia fears her children Annette (Audrey Dalton) and Norman (Harper Carter) are being transformed into spoiled snobs, she decides to take them home and make a normal life for the children back in America.

As the film opens Julia and her children are already on board the Titanic, when Richard catches up with them, after she unceremoniously left him behind. Much of the plot elaborates on the conflict between Julia and Richard, as well as allowing a romance to blossom between Annette and Gifford Rogers (Robert Wagner) before the Titanic meets its appointment with destiny. The leading performances are excellent with both Stanwyck and Webb being in truly fine form. Supporting performances also hold up exceedingly well, with the wonderful Thelma Ritter doing for this version of TITANIC, what Kathy Bates did in the James Cameron telling. The cast of TITANIC also includes Brian Aherne, Richard Basehart, Allyn Joslyn, James Todd, Frances Bergen and William Johnstone.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has made TITANIC available on DVD in a terrific looking full screen transfer that frames the movie in its proper 1.37:1 aspect ratio. The film element used for the transfer is in marvelous shape for a movie that is five decades old, with minor blemishes being the worst offenses. Sharpness and detail are excellent, and the transfer really brings out glossy and glamorous quality of Joseph MacDonaldís cinematography. Blacks appear velvety and the whites are crisp and stable. Contrast is excellent and the image produces a nicely varied grayscale. There is a mild grain structure in various sequences during the course of the film, but at no time does it ever seem excessive. Digital compression artifacts are always well concealed.

TITANIC comes with the options of listening to the film in a remixed Dolby Digital stereo or in its original monaural form. The 2.0 channel track will decode to standard surround and does provide a just a bit of envelopment during some key moments. For the most part, the remixed track adds a nice spread to the musical component of the soundtrack, without introducing too much artifice. As for both version of the track, fidelity is a bit limited, but not beyond what one would expect from fifty year old recordings. Sound effects lack weight, but the do come across well enough. Dialogue is crisply rendered and always completely understandable. Background hiss and surface noise have been cleaned up to a great extent during the mastering process, leaving a fairly pleasant sound that will take a bit of amplification without problems. A Spanish language track has also been encoded onto the DVD, as have English and Spanish subtitles.

The basic interactive menus provide access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a nice complement of supplemental features. Featured on the disc are two separate audio commentary tracks. The first is with film critic Richard Schickel, while the second includes actors Robert Wagner and Audrey Dalton, plus cinematographer Michael Lonza and historian Silvia Stoddard. Both tracks have their merits, although casual listeners may get more from the second track. Beyond Titanic is a ninety plus minute program that examines the aftermath of the Titanic disaster and how the events were revisited in various forms of pop culture. Also included on the DVD is some newsreel footage from the premiere of TITANIC, and from the Academy Award ceremonies in which it took home an Oscar for its screenplay. A theatrical trailer, still gallery and audio essay by Titanic historian Silvia Stoddard closes out the supplements.

While the 1953ís TITANIC may not be as epic in scope as James Cameronís version, it is a highly entertaining movie with old time Hollywood star power. As a member of Foxís Studio Classics line, it should come as no surprise that the DVD looks and sounds great, in addition to offering excellent supplemental materials. If you love classic movies, then adding TITANIC to your collection is a no-brainer. Very highly recommended.



Titanic (1953)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



Add to My Yahoo!  Add to Google  RSS Feed & Share Links