Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Gotham: The Complete Fifth Season


Gotham, the Batman prequel, was in a tough spot coming into its fifth season. The show had a shortened season and needed to wrap things up and get to where it was aiming at: end with the final shot of Batman.

It's curious that despite this a great deal of Gotham Season Five was almost another day at the office with the introduction of Bane into the mix. What Season Five ended up being was a good way to end the series, not great but still on the whole good.

On the positive side was the evolution of some great performances. I found that David Mazouz has really come into his own as Bruce Wayne. He seemed to grow in confidence as this tortured figure who would rise to become the Dark Knight. Mazouz made Bruce into quite a complicated and conflicted character, one who used his growing skills to see his way into becoming a vigilante.

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He was equaled by Camren Bicondova's Selina Kyle, their evolution being a highlight for me in this danse macabre et erotique between the future Batman and the future Catwoman. They really should rank among the best pairings of the duo as these friends who will eventually grow to form a very strange love.

Bicondova by herself made Selina into an equally complicated figure, less villain and more anti-heroine, one who had a moral center unlike her mentors Barbara Kean and Tabitha Galavan. Those two were irredeemably evil, but Selina genuinely struggled with her feelings for Bruce as well as her criminal acts. She was a thief but she could never kill.

I have always thought that Robin Lord Taylor was shamefully overlooked in award recognition for his Oswald Cobblepot. Our beloved Penguin was I think the best interpretation of the character. He was monstrous: greedy, murderous, willing to sell everyone out to enrich himself. Yet despite that he was almost cuddly, this Pengy. It's curious that while Gotham made Penguin gay the show never really followed up on it. Apart from his initial emotional-to-romantic feelings for his frenemy Edward Nygma/Riddler, Penguin never found someone to romance, let alone love and love him back.

Perhaps Pengy was not cut out for love emotional or erotic, but it would have been interesting if Gotham had given him a lover.

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Cory Michael Smith, I think, also did a wonderful job with Riddler, a man driven to be the best but who struggled between being Edward and being Riddler. I would make him the second-best version of The Riddler after Frank Gorshin's take from the original Batman television series. His inner conflict did drive the character and made for compelling viewing. The pairing of this gruesome twosome made for an unlikely yet brilliant double-act.

It's really a surprise that Gotham has not been more praised for the acting. Including the aforementioned Mazouz, Bicondova, Taylor and Smith you also had great turns from Anthony Carrigan's Victor Zsasz and Donal Logue's Harvey Bullock. Carrigan made Zsasz into a delightfully droll figure: comical without being absurd, almost an innocent who kills. Logue continued with Bullock being a source of quips but this season did give him a deeper character, one who struggled with his past decisions.

Richards has made Bonkers Babs into a more interesting character than she started out as when she was just a good girl. When Barbara is bad, she's better, and her pregnancy and motherhood gave her role a new twist, making her more conflicted about how evil she could be.

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If there is something  I disliked about Season Five it is the fan-dance Gotham did when it came to Jerome/Jeremiah Valeska, the 'not-Joker'. They've teased, they've hinted, they've dropped hints yet they could never use the title 'Joker' despite the garish makeup and infernal giggle.

I think everything they did with the character was bad: from 'not killing' him again and again to having him do a version of 'Dumb and Dumberer' as part of some wild master-plan that was pretty laughable even for him. I was left cold by what Gotham did with 'not-Joker' despite Cameron Monaghan's excellent performance.

I also was not overwhelmed with Shane West's take on Bane. I think that's because I am still not convinced Shane West can act. Granted, I'm still haunted by League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, which was meant I understand to catapult him to superstar status. However, try as I might here I could not buy him as this dangerous near-unstoppable force of evil.

When judging Season Five, one has to cut Gotham some slack: they had to wrap up things quickly while keeping to their original plan. The show was blessed by great acting and a strong sense of style. For the brief time it had Gotham Season Five was on the whole quite well.

Next: Gotham: The Conclusions

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Avengers: Endgame. A Review (Review #1214)


At long last we got this year's season finale to the world's longest and most expensive soap opera.

Avengers: Endgame wraps up what has been twenty-two films and ten years of giving millions of people what they wanted: live-action cartoons. Is Endgame a good film? I figure it is, though despite the fanboy/girl declarations it is not the Greatest Film Ever Made.

Picking up from our last season finale, we get Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) saving Iron-Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) after 'The Snap' our villain Thanos (Josh Brolin) unleashed. The surviving Avengers track down Thanos, who has becomes something of a hermit. He's literally cut off, then we go five years later.

The world, five years later, has not recovered from the shock and horror of seeing half the population evaporate. Some of the surviving Avengers are still trying to keep to their motives of being superheroes. Some have become virtual recluses or worse, homicidal maniacs.

Image result for avengers endgameIt isn't until Ant-Man/Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) suddenly reappears after the events from his episode that a solution to all their problems comes up: time travel.

Essentially, it's a wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey jaunt through past Marvel Cinematic Universe films (from my weak knowledge it means hitting The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy) as the various surviving Avengers go hither and yon on this 'Time Heist'.

Some Avengers do not survive, but Thanos, or at least an alternate past version of him, gets wise to this plan. He won't go down without a fight, and it's a fight that brings back the formerly-dead Avengers for a winner-take-all endgame.

In the end, we get some Avengers most sincerely dead, some teaming up and some finding new life in their alternate universe.

Image result for avengers endgamePerhaps one reason why Endgame did not have me cry as it did so many is that I cannot summon the strength to care given my experiences with of all things, Doctor Who.

Endgame has much in common with our time traveling Time Lord/Lady. It has similarities with its Twentieth Anniversary Special The Five Doctors in that like in Endgame, The Five Doctors had as many past and present Doctor Who characters as could be fitted in.

As a side note, both The Five Doctors and Endgame even had cameo appearances from people who refused to return for their respective specials inserted into them: Fifth Doctor Tom Baker and Thor's love interest Jane Foster (Natalie Portman).

Also like Doctor Who, we have characters who were once dead coming back to life (though this is more for NuWho than the Classic Who) and we had a resolution that involved essentially resetting things or going the alternate universe route. There was even a Doctor Who episode titled 'Time Heist'.

As I think back on Endgame I think it was good but not great. It gave its fans what they want: big battle scenes and chances to cry. Far be it for me to take any of that away from them.

It has its positives. Downey, Jr. gives what I think is the best performance in Endgame, one that kept to Tony Stark's sarcasm with genuine emotion, agony, regret and ultimately sacrifice. He ran through moments of quips and moments of despair, from referring to Doctor Strange as 'that Harley Street Magician' to his almost Hamlet-like pondering on whether to join in turning back time despite having found bliss with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and their daughter.
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I cannot fault the performances for being what they were, though Downey, Jr. was the standout for me. The actors know their characters well-enough and don't deviate from what they originated. Chris Hemsworth still is working to be some great comic star with his drunk fat Thor. Ruffalo too aimed for elements of comedy with his more tame Hulk/Bruce Banner mix. Rudd is a naturally funny guy, so he handled the more average guy element of Ant-Man quite well.

I would argue that Larson got the short end of the stick only in that she was given so little to do save be the deus ex machina and looking perpetually unhappy about it. Endgame should have done better by her. I would say the same for Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton/Hawkeye, whose devolution into crazed hitman was pretty much forgotten once he needed to join the other Avengers.

The film's three-hour length was unnecessary. I think Anthony & Joe Russo were more interested in giving fan-service through our jaunty time-flips, and other scenes such as Scott trying to get Hulk fans attention were unnecessary. Did one really want so many comments about how Captain America's (Chris Evans) ass looks?

I also found the tone a bit odd. We are meant to have comedy with 'fat Thor', yet given the somber tone of things I wonder whether this should have been reworked. Same with Hawkeye's psycho killer act. I'm also not convinced that both The Avengers and the world would not have 'moved on' half a decade later from 'The Snap'. I simply never believed humanity would have been wallowing in this moroseness all that time.

I get that seeing Yankee Stadium in shambles symbolizes how the world hasn't moved on. However, I think that five years since perhaps Aaron Judge had dissolved, the Yankees would have found new players. I figure it is Yankee Stadium because I'm hard-pressed to think the loss of the New York Mets and Citi Field in ruins would be prove that devastating (no offense to Mets fans).

In the end I cannot fault Avengers: Endgame for delivering on what it did: endless fan service and a chance for its devotees to say goodbye to characters they care deeply about. Was it good? I suppose yes. Was it great?

Truthfully, I have seen better.

Next Marvel Cinematic Universe Film: Spider-Man: Far From Home


Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Tolkien: A Review


It should not surprise anyone that after the wild success of The Lord of the Rings and its various spin-offs and franchises, the creator of Middle-Earth would get his own biopic. Tolkien, the biopic of this epic series' creator, sadly is more interested in doing shout-outs to Tolkien's work than in diving into the man himself.

With the overarching story of his time in the trenches of World War I, Tolkien hops between the horrors of the war and his early life and college years. We spend some time in his childhood before he and his brother became orphans, then when they became boarders while the Tolkien brothers go school.

Here Ronald (Nicholas Hoult) meets some of the most important people in his life. There is Edith Bratt (Lily Collins), a quietly passionate woman with whom Ronald falls madly in love. There is a hitch though: Edith is not Catholic, which for Tolkien's legal guardian Father Francis (Colm Meaney) is a bridge too far.

Then there are three fellow students who like 'Tollers', have a passion for art, language and literature. There's the Headmaster's son, Robert Gilson (Patrick Gibson), who loves to paint. There's the composer Christopher Wiseman (Tom Glynn-Carney) and poet Geoffrey Smith (Anthony Boyle). They form their own 'dead poets' society' and even the separation between two going to Oxford and two going to Cambridge does not separate them.

Tolkien has given up Edith to both their regrets, but true love cannot be denied. Neither can Tolkien's gift for language, where he eventually finds himself under the mentorship of Professor Wright (Derek Jacobi). Then comes the First World War, where not everyone will survive.

Tolkien ends with Ronald and Edith united at last, and the beginning of a cute children's story that was to change fantasy literature forever.

Image result for tolkien movieTolkien can best be described as 'respectable', which is a terrible thing to be when covering what I imagine was a more complicated and complex life and work as that of the subject. There is a stateliness that makes the film sluggish, boring and even a bit confusing.

We are led to think that the 'tea club' Tolkien and the others formed brought about great works and inspiration, but we never really see them connect with each other in a way that shows they prodded the others' work. This is not The Inklings: Junior Chapter. This 'fellowship' talked a lot about their love of language and art but they as individuals never stood out. I more often than not forgot who was whom.

A major part of Tolkien involves J.R.R. Tolkien searching the trenches for Geoffrey, but nothing in Tolkien suggested Geoffrey was particularly closer to Tolkien than the others. As such, why would he search for Geoffrey than for Christopher or Robert? Even more curious was that, intentional or not, there is a vague suggestion that Geoffrey, despite the surprisingly chaste manner they have towards college girls, is in love with Tollers: a longing glance, a touch of the arm.

You can see the film again and again trying for something and failing every time. You see this in the faux-fellowship. You see this in what is meant to be a romantic lunch between Tolkien and Edith. Despite everyone's best efforts, it comes across as stilted, forced and unreal.

It's curious that Tolkien is a weak movie with good acting, or at least as good an acting as David Gleeson & Stephen Beresford's script and Dome Karukoski's directing allows. Hoult has a wonderfully expressive manner and works his best to make Tolkien a complicated character. You can see him try again and again against weak material. Collins similarly attempted to make Edith more strong and less the girl who lovingly looks at her man.

Credit should also be given to the young actors playing the junior versions of Tolkien, Smith, Gilson and Wiseman (Harry Gilby, Adam Bregman, Albie Marber and Ty Tennant respectively). It's not their fault they were essentially asked to do Dead Poets Society: British Edition. Fortunately, none of them are old enough to have seen it when it came out so they may not have had the callbacks Tolkien saddled them with.

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Speaking of callbacks, Tolkien seems set on bringing up his work to us. The younger actors probably weren't around when The Lord of the Rings trilogy first began, but Tolkien never lost an opportunity to remind us of the films and/or books. This is done primarily during the World War I scenes, which Tolkien for reasons of its own jumped back-and-forth to. We see hints of Mordor as the trenches (I think at one point complete with an Eye of Sauron). We see dragons/flamethrowers, cavalries similar to the Riders of Rohan to where one would think Aragorn would pop up to inspire them to charge at the Germans.

The fact that Tolkien's batman is named 'Sam' does not help matters.

Even Thomas Newman's score seemed dead-set on echoing Howard Shore's massive Lord of the Rings score.

Perhaps the oddest element in Tolkien was how it never touched on one of the most important elements of his life: his faith. Tolkien was a devout Catholic with his views shaping every element of his life and works. We could have seen internal struggles between his Catholicism and his love for Edith, but that was portrayed more as a petty inconvenience in Tolkien than a genuine crisis of conscience. Why Tolkien opted to downplay one of the defining forces in Tolkien's life we may never learn.

Tolkien was respectable but very hodgepodge in manner. Jumbled, listless, and a bit hollow, it may make for mild diversion but it is not the biopic that this literary figure merits.

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Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Gotham: The Beginning...Review

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The Beginning..., the Gotham series finale, had an extremely difficult task to accomplish.

It had to wrap up all our stories and character arcs.
It had to set up what we know as the Batman mythos versus the Bruce Wayne evolution.
It had to make sense.

The Beginning...mostly accomplished all this, not an easy task given the brevity of this season. Some things were not good, but fortunately the good outweighed the bad.

Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) has left Gotham and traveled to what appears to be Tibet.

We jump to ten years later. Commissioner Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is about to retire just as his frenemy Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) is about to be released from prison. Pengy's other frenemy, Edward Nygma aka The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) is in Arkham Asylum, where his only real treat is in taking shots at a catatonic Jeremiah Valeska (Cameron Monaghan). Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is now apparently both sane and a redhead as well as a good mother to her and Gordon's daughter Barbara Lee Gordon. Selina Kyle (Lili Simmons) is a cat-woman burglar.

Each in their way is waiting for Bruce Wayne to return and open the new Wayne Tower. However, it looks like there is mischief and murder. An elaborate plot where Pengy and Riddler are unwitting pawns is unleashed, a plot where Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) is also a patsy and that may cause the downfall of Gotham itself. Only a very strange figure dressed as a bat may stop this mad plot from someone who may not be as out-of-it as he appears.

At long last, with some help from Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) and Lucius Fox (Chris Chalk), Gordon may not yet retire as he contemplates 'a friend': he that is to be known as "Batman".

Image result for gotham the beginningPart of me understands the pressure Gotham was under to wrap everything up, so I'm cutting them some slack. There is also the issue of having so many villains to deal with, and on the whole I think The Beginning...did a pretty good job with the four main ones.

As a side note, how I wish my favorite, Mr. Freeze, had come back, but one can't have everything can one.

My issue is less with the flash-forward than it is with the overall plot. Somehow, echoing Dumb and Dumberer and Galaxy Quest is not a good twist. On this show, it always stops on "one".

Even at the end of The Beginning..., we could not get them to admit that Jeremiah is The Joker. I don't think we heard them use the name 'The Joker' in The Beginning..., and this fan-dance about Jeremiah's eventual identity was one of Gotham's low points.

It kept teasing viewers about the Clown Prince of Crime, first with Jerome and then with Jeremiah, never saying his name. It was pretty clear where that plot line was going. I'll give Monaghan credit in that he was strong as the menacing, monstrous "whoever he was".

It was nice to see the double-act of Taylor and Smith together one last time, where they managed to get moments of humor into things. They are the other Dynamic Duo.

To my mind, Taylor should be considered the best Penguin on screen and Smith the second-best after Frank Gorshin's take on the character. The Beginning..., while giving us at long-last a monocle-wearing pudgy Pengy, kept to Taylor's version of a needy, mommy-obsessed and troubled man with a flare for the dramatic.

Image result for gotham the beginningSeriously Pengy, why take Gordon to the docks?

We even get callbacks to the past, as when Mayor Aubrey James (Richard Kind) finds himself abducted and strapped to a bomb again. Even he seems incredulous at this repeat, and the whole thing was badly handled in my view.

As a side note, seriously...why would Gotham citizens vote Mayor James back in again?

As much as McKenzie did well here, I wish he had kept the mustache throughout the whole episode. That was just baiting the audience. We can take a stab as to how Bonkers Babs got her mind back. Morena Baccarin as Lee Thompkins had very little to do unfortunately.

There were other elements I wasn't keen on. I was troubled by having the Arkham guard have his blood splash over a family picture. That just bothered me, a reminder of how sadistic things can get. That was nothing compared to holding Barbara Gordon over a tub of toxic waste. Even the suggestion of torturing children is way too far for me.

Finally, I know they were going for a big reveal to close out the show, which to be fair to them was what they promised when Gotham premiered. However, I think they went a bit overboard constantly teasing this 'where's Bruce?' bit, though again to be fair they were in a bit of a jam.

I will give credit to Simmons, who filled in as the adult Catwoman. She strongly resembles Camren Bicondova and her scene with an unseen Bruce Wayne/Batman worked quite well. Credit too for Mazouz who had to perform only with his voice.

Gotham's cinematography, always one of the best aspects of the show, similarly too worked well.

The Beginning... is a good though not great way to end Gotham. A bit rushed to where perhaps a two-hour finale might have done some good, on the whole it did a good enough job to finish a series that got a bit lost but eventually found its way from its dark knight of the soul.


Next: Gotham: The Complete Fifth Season

Monday, May 13, 2019

Doris Day: A Personal Remembrance

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In her first public appearance in twenty years for Turner Classic Movies' Private Screenings, Betty Hutton reflected on her life and work. "My private life has been hell, really hell. But my professional life was so wonderful because the audiences understood I was working from my heart".

The same could be said about Doris Day, who died today, a month after celebrating her 97th birthday.

Her first out of four husbands was so violently abusive he nearly killed her and their yet-unborn son. Her third husband, the only one she was widowed by, left her virtually penniless and had secretly signed her for a television series without her knowledge or input. Her only son Terry Melcher preceded her in death in 2004. One of her closest friends and the costar most identified with her, Rock Hudson, became the first major face of AIDS at a time when the disease was virtually unknown.

Despite all these blows and setbacks, like the sunny persona she had onscreen, Doris Day persevered and eventually came back stronger than before. I once made a case that The Doris Day Show demonstrated that despite being held up as 'the eternal virgin' so mocked by Rizzo in Grease, Day was more than capable of playing smart, independent women and could have adapted to the times.

She had the talent. Of Day's singing there has never been a doubt. Sentimental Journey, her first big hit, captured the mood of a nation coming to the end of the Second World War, nostalgia with hope for the future. Que Sera, Sera from The Man Who Knew Too Much is the song most identified with her, and it makes sense. While it sounds like a lullaby, Que Sera, Sera is full of wisdom about life, accepting and embracing the only constant in life: change.

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I am puzzled as to why Day was dismissed as an actress, even by herself. She was a natural in musicals and comedies. Day had a nice, pleasant manner starting from her debut in Romance on the High Seas, which gave her another excellent song, It's Magic. She was the kid sister we could love and relate to in On Moonlight Bay and its sequel By the Light of the Silvery Moon. She could be the fiery Calamity Jane in the eponymous film.

There was a light of wholesome sexiness in her films, where she could be highly attractive but still keep the wolves at bay. We see this best in two of the three films she made with Rock Hudson: Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back (the third, Send Me No Flowers, had them as a married couple versus adversaries). 

However, in the few dramatic ventures she agreed to, she could more than hold her own as a legitimate and exceptional actress. See her performance as Ruth Etting in the biopic Love Me or Leave Me. She goes toe-to-toe with James Cagney as this songstress with a violent husband and struggles to be someone. One could say Love Me or Leave Me is closer to Day's own life than Calamity Jane.

See her performance in The Man Who Knew Too Much. For me, one of her best moments there is when she discovers her son has been kidnapped just as she is slipping under the sedative her husband (James Stewart) gave her. The fear, anguish and confusion swirling within and around her is a terrifying and heartbreaking moment.

There's also Midnight Lace as the terrorized woman someone is trying to kill, again letting the confusion and chaos of her situation compel you to see how she survives and sympathizing with her plight.

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Doris Day was wonderful in all those musical and comedies. A personal favorite is The Glass-Bottom Boat where she's mistaken for a Soviet spy. I saw it as a child and was howling with laughter, though I'm not sure I got all the jokes. I did fall in love with her in On Moonlight Bay, and who wouldn't? Not only was she pretty...she played baseball! What more can a man ask from a woman?

However, as wonderful as she was in the comedies and musicals, her range as a dramatic actress was never fully tapped, and I think that was by her own design.

The thing was she was fine with her squeaky-clean persona no matter how square it might have seemed. She turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate (even if I think she would have been sensational in the role). She turned down offers to perform in Las Vegas or record more updated music such as the Motown she was fond of. Outside a few television specials and Doris Day's Best Friends, I think she just decided there were more important things in life than fame and a film/television career.

In particular, her long work for animals. Doris Day's Best Friends wasn't a chat show where she talked to her famous friends. Instead, it was about her real best friends: the animals whose welfare she devoted the rest of her life to.

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Day had retired from the public eye for decades, not exactly a recluse but no longer involved in the entertainment industry or its trappings. Her last film was in 1968, her final television series, Doris Day's Best Friends, was in 1986. Her last major public appearance was in 1989 when she accepted the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes. She consistently turned down offers of an American Film Institute and Kennedy Center Honors as well as, I understand, an Honorary Academy Award (though that one I cannot be certain of).

And yet here we are, reflecting on an extraordinary life, one filled with heartache and tragedy but also with a lot of laughs, joys and a song in our hearts. I don't think Doris Day would want us to remember the tumult that came in those 97 years: abusive husbands, near-bankruptcy, ups-and-downs in her career, tragic deaths of family and friends.

I also don't think she would care to have too much focus on her film and television career, even if perhaps she might begrudgingly accept that is what we most likely will remember her for. I think she would be happy to know she made so many people, myself included, so very happy with her work.

I think she would have been proud of her songbook and that some of her songs are now standards that may be duplicated but never equaled: Sentimental Journey, It's MagicSecret Love from Calamity Jane, Que Sera, Sera, I'll Never Stop Loving You from Love Me or Leave Me.

If anything, I think her work with animals is what I think Doris Day would want to be best remembered.

For myself, I think she should be remembered for all that, for being an extraordinary singer, an actress of incredible range, and a woman who loved all creatures great and small.

For all intents and purposes, Doris Day was never a prisoner of her image. She was herself, and we thank her so very much.

We'll never stop loving her.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Night to Remember (1958): A Review

Image result for a night to remember 1958A NIGHT TO REMEMBER

A Night to Remember has been praised as the most accurate film of the Titanic sinking up to that point. Stripping away almost all the melodrama to focus on the final hours of the doomed ocean-liner, A Night to Remember still leaves an emotional impact and leaves one devastated at the true horror of that fateful night.

We get brief scenes of three separate family groups: a titled man and wife, a newlywed middle-class pair and a trio of Irish immigrants. We also see the pre-voyage preparations of Second Officer Charles Lightoller (Kenneth More) we go straight to the night of Sunday, April 14, 1912.

The Titanic has run against an iceberg, having accidentally ignored the warnings of another ship, the Californian, about the ice. The Californian has stopped due to the ice but there is no telegraph operator to hear Titanic's distress signal. A ship further away, the Carpathia, does hear it but at four hours away it will not get there in time as Titanic has at most two hours.

On board, Captain Smith (Laurence Naismith) and ship designer Thomas Andrews (Michael Goodliffe) know two things the passengers and crew do not: there are not enough lifeboats for everyone on board and that help will come too late if at all. Slowly the passengers are loaded onto the lifeboats, with class still coming into things.

Image result for a night to remember 1958The first class passengers almost in unison become irritated by what they see as unnecessary fuss. The middle class passengers are concerned. The steerage passengers are kept locked in until the first and second class passengers get onto the boards. Some first and second class passengers refuse to get on lifeboats for a variety of reasons from not wanting to leave their husbands to just wanting to bother.

While others keep gambling and reading, eventually the severity of the crisis becomes clear and as Titanic goes down to its watery grave the panic and chaos grows.

The Carpathia finally arrives to note that there are only 705 survivors both passengers and crew, with 1500 dead in one of the worst maritime disasters. In a postscript we learn that due to Titanic, all ships now are required to have a radio operator on duty 24/7, there must be enough lifeboats for every passenger and a maritime ice warning system was created.

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A Night to Remember is powerfully effective due to it moving away from the melodrama the setting presents and focusing instead of the events themselves. There are moments of drama and/or romance to be sure. There is a brief scene of a male passenger going into a female passenger's cabin. There is the steerage romance between steerage passenger James Farrell (Patrick McAlliney) and a Polish girl. However, the latter is there to give us characters to focus on as later Farrell and the men he was travelling with help the Polish girl and her mother escape to a lifeboat.

People at this time were almost fifty years removed from the Titanic sinking, so while many survivors had already perished and those who remembered it were fewer, there were still enough people familiar with the story alive to fill in blanks. For most of A Night to Remember, few names were used. For example, Margaret "Molly" Brown (Tucker Maguire) was never mentioned by name but the brassy nouveau-riche American woman was clearly her. The Chairman (Frank Lawton) forever disbelieving and interfering with the crew was also the notorious J. Bruce Ismay.

Curiously, Ismay almost comes across as good man...almost, his act of saving himself less a cowardly effort to save himself than one of being allowed to board to see the ship he kept insisting was unsinkable take thousands to a watery grave.

Roy Baker's directing was quite calm, letting things flow smoothly and as realistically as possible. There were not big dramatic moments but several small dramatic ones. The scene where Mrs. Ida Straus declines to board a lifeboat preferring to end her days with her beloved husband Isidor is brief but quiet and moving.

A Night to Remember may look familiar to those who have seen the better-known Titanic, especially with Andrews looking shell-shocked in the first-class smoking room and offering advice on surviving to the young lovers. A Night to Remember, more interested in the fatal night and with almost a documentary-like feel (complete with a mix of archival footage and clips from the notorious Nazi film Titanic) is quiet, graceful, moving, impactful and informative on this great tragedy.