By Chris Nashawaty
March 29, 2012 at 04:00 AM EDT
Everett Collection

A Night to Remember


April 14 marks the centennial of one of the most horrific and indelible tragedies of the modern age: the 1912 sinking of the unsinkable Titanic. So get ready to be inundated with round-the-clock TV specials and reams of commemorative books. Movie lovers won’t be left out either, thanks to a 3-D rerelease of James Cameron’s 1997 epic and a Criterion Blu-ray upgrade of Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember (1958, Not Rated, 2 hrs., 3 mins.). Baker’s film wasn’t the first to dramatize the lives aboard the ill-fated White Star liner — Barbara Stanwyck boarded the ship in 1953’s memorable, if melodramatic, Titanic — but it is the best, due to its chilling minute-by-minute reenactment of the steamer’s final hours. Kenneth More is sobering as the second officer who bears witness to the catastrophe that brings out the best and worst in the passengers in first class. And while there isn’t any Kate-and-Leo love story or missing blue diamond or CGI, the film is powerful — nowhere more so than in the haunting scenes near the end when musicians play “Nearer, My God, to Thee” as the leviathan lists toward its fate. More powerful still is an archival interview with survivor Eva Hart on the Extras, in which she recalls the ghastly screams she heard from her lifeboat, and the even ghastlier silence that followed. A

A Night to Remember

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