10 Unsinkable Facts About Titanic

20th Century Fox
20th Century Fox

Titanic is one of those rare movies that wasn’t just a hit—it was a phenomenon. It won 11 Oscars, including Best Picture, and made mega-stars out of Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. But here are a few things you might not know about one of the second highest-grossing film in Hollywood history, which was released in theaters 20 years ago today.

1. THE FILM'S MOST ICONIC LINE WAS IMPROVISED.

When Leonardo DiCaprio first got up on the end of the ship, he improvised the line “I'm the king of the world!” Cameron liked the line so much that he kept it in the movie. Though the line would go on to be parodied countless times—including at the Oscars—it landed at #100 on the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movie quotes.

2. JACK DIDN'T HAVE TO DIE.

One question that has plagued Cameron for the past 20 years is: Did Jack really have to die? In an episode of MythBusters that examined whether both Jack and Rose could have stayed on the wooden beam without it sinking, Cameron himself came on the show to admit that the movie's dramatic ending depended on Jack dying. “If [he] lives, the movie makes a tenth as much,” quipped Cameron.

In November of this year, Cameron was still being grilled about it. Though he repeated that the decision to kill Jack was “an artistic choice,” as the movie “is about death and separation” in an interview with Vanity Fair, he still defended the means, saying he tested the floating board prop itself to gauge its buoyancy.

3. TITANIC WON 11 OSCARS—BUT NONE OF THEM FOR ACTING.

Although 87-year-old Gloria Stuart (Old Rose) was considered a lock for the Best Supporting Actress trophy, she lost to Kim Basinger for L.A. Confidential. Winslet was nominated for Best Actress but lost to Helen Hunt for As Good as It Gets. It would take Winslet another five nominations before she’d take home a statue (for The Reader in 2009).

4. KATE WINSLET LEARNED SHE HAD LANDED THE PART OF ROSE WHILE SHE WAS WEARING A STRAITJACKET.

The day Winslet learned she had landed her star-making role, she was in England filming Hamlet with Kenneth Branagh. After getting off the phone with her agent, she then went to work, which meant wearing a straitjacket to film Ophelia's famous breakdown scene.

5. A NAKED DRAWING OF WINSLET SOLD FOR THOUSANDS.

Kate Winslet in 'Titanic' (1997)
Paramount Pictures

In 2011, a company called Premiere Props auctioned off one of the movie's most iconic pieces of memorabilia: one of the drawings Jack made of Rose, who is wearing nothing but the Heart of the Ocean necklace. Although the identity of the buyer and the final price were not released publicly, the highest known bid was $16,000. The drawing was done by Cameron, not DiCaprio.

6. THE FREEZING COLD WATER WASN'T COLD AT ALL.

“The water in the tank was about 80 degrees, so it was really like a pool,” James Cameron explained of the filming of the water scenes. “All of the cold, frigid water was added later.”

7. A FAMOUS REAL COUPLE GETS A SMALL CAMEO IN THE MOVIE.

Ida and Isidor Straus, who founded Macy's, were on the Titanic and died together on the ship. They get a brief, unidentified cameo in the film as the elderly couple lying in bed together as the water washes over them. They are named in the film's credits, though: Lew Palter and Elsa Raven portrayed them.

8. AN ALTERNATE ENDING WAS FILMED.

An alternate ending of the movie was filmed in which Bill Paxton’s character finally does get to hold the Heart of the Ocean necklace in his hand, and Stuart’s character gives him a speech about making every day count.

9. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON MADE AN IMPORTANT CHANGE TO THE MOVIE.

The noted astrophysicist didn’t see Titanic until years after it was released, but he took issue with the scene where Rose is lying on the piece of driftwood and looking up at the sky. He sent James Cameron “quite a snarky email” (Cameron’s description) explaining that the star field Rose saw in the movie isn't the one she would have seen in real life at that place and time. Cameron—ever the perfectionist—re-shot the scene for the 3-D edition of the movie.

10. THE FILM SET A NON-BOX OFFICE RECORD.

Because it remained in cinemas for so long, Titanic was the first movie ever released on VHS while it was still playing in theaters. Its popularity was so massive, with people lining up for repeat viewings, that some theaters reportedly had to get new film reels to replace the ones they’d worn out.

8 Provocative Facts About the X Film Rating

iStock/tolgart
iStock/tolgart

When the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) introduced the modern movie ratings system in 1968, they couldn’t have known that one of their classifications would become the calling card of pornography. The X rating, intended to denote films not suitable for anyone under the age of 17, went from being attached to Academy Award contenders to filling video store spaces located behind saloon doors. Fifty years after its debut, we’re taking a look at the most infamous letter in moviegoing history.

1. ACCEPTING THE RATING WAS VOLUNTARY (KIND OF).

In 1968, the MPAA and its president, Jack Valenti, introduced a four-tier system to classify films. G was suitable for all audiences; M was the equivalent of PG (which replaced M in 1970), indicating that juveniles should consult with a parent before attending; R was intended for adults, or children only with a guardian present; X marked films that shouldn’t be seen by adolescent eyes. But the MPAA never forced a film studio to submit to its decision. It could release a film with no rating at all. The problem? The MPAA’s arrangement with the National Association of Theater Owners meant that an unrated film would almost certainly have difficulty finding a theater to screen it.

2. A ROBERT DE NIRO MOVIE WAS THE FIRST TO GET SLAPPED WITH AN X.

Immediately after the introduction of the new MPAA system, the advisory board got its first bona fide sample of an X-rated submission: Director Brian De Palma’s Greetings, a 1968 film starring Robert De Niro as a New Yorker confronting the possibility of being drafted, garnered the rating due to its sexually explicit content, including nudity that would likely earn an R rating today. (De Palma would later run afoul of the MPAA multiple times; 1980's Dressed to Kill, 1981's Blow Out, and 1983's Scarface were all threatened with an X before being edited.)

3. FILMMAKERS COULD GIVE THEMSELVES THE RATING.

Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight in Midnight Cowboy (1969)
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

Though it was quickly going to become taboo, there was a time when an X rating for a mainstream film was a badge of honor and an effective marketing tool that signaled a film was being made for discerning moviegoers—not just viewers looking for titillation. Arthur Krim, the head of United Artists, willingly gave 1969’s Dustin Hoffman and Jon Voight film Midnight Cowboy an X of his own volition even after he realized the MPAA would give the film an R designation. (The MPAA later applied an R to the movie in 1971.)

4. IT WAS WELCOME AT THE ACADEMY AWARDS.

The X rating was not an impediment to critical or commercial acclaim. In 1970, Midnight Cowboy won Best Picture at the Academy Awards; Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, released in 1971, earned four Oscar nominations, including one for Best Picture; Bernardo Bertolucci's Last Tango in Paris (1972), starring Marlon Brando as a sex-obsessed American in France, got two nominations, including Brando for Best Actor.

5. THE XXX MARK MAY HAVE STEMMED FROM AN ALCOHOL DESIGNATION.

A neon XXX sign
iStock/07_av

In the hyperbole of film marketing, studios and advertisers didn’t believe one X was enough. Some films, like 1968’s Starlet!, were advertised as having an unofficial XXX designation to signify it was even more intense than other adult-oriented films. The label may have come from an old practice of denoting the strength of beer with a X, XX, or XXX label.

6. PORN TOOK OVER THE RATING DUE TO AN MPAA OVERSIGHT.

A rating of X in 1969 was no big deal. By the mid-1970s, it signaled to audiences that they were about to watch an anatomy lesson. That’s because the burgeoning adult film industry of the 1970s was screening films in theaters—VHS was not yet a household acronym—and blared advertisements with promises of “XXX” salaciousness. The MPAA never reviewed these films, and titles like 1972’s Deep Throat and 1978’s Debbie Does Dallas used the mark freely. The reason? The MPAA never bothered to copyright X as it applies to film ratings, allowing anyone to use it. In short order, the X rating became synonymous with pornography and grew into a scarlet letter for films. No reputable theaters would book such movies, and few newspapers would take ads for them.

7. PEOPLE COLLECT X-RATED FILMS.

The seedy, lurid films that applied their own X (or XXX) ratings in the 1970s and 1980s have developed a small but devout following of collectors who have a “strong desire to own, preserve, and reclaim erotic history,” according to one aficionado who spoke with The New York Times in 2014. These specialists focus mostly on the 16mm and 35mm films that were produced prior to the advent of VHS.

8. ONE STUDIO SUED OVER IT.

Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril in 'Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!' (1989)
Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril in Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! (1989)
The Criterion Collection

When the MPAA gave an X rating to the 1989 Pedro Almodóvar drama Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!, Miramax decided to sue, claiming such a label would harm the film financially. The studio lost the suit, but it signaled the end of the war.

In 1990, a year that saw 10 movies get slapped with an X, the MPAA overhauled the ratings system. It dropped the X in favor of NC-17, which it hoped would distance films with artistic merit from pornographic material. And this time, the pornography industry couldn't co-opt it: Learning from its past mistake, the MPAA trademarked the designation.

Stranger Things's David Harbour Shared Some Season 3 Spoilers—With Absolutely No Context

Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images
Matt Winkelmeyer, Getty Images

While Netflix likes to keep the details of Stranger Things a mystery, David Harbour, who plays Detective Hopper, likes to have fun with his fans.

Harbour posted a cryptic image to his Instagram which, while it clearly contains Stranger Things Season 3 spoilers in both the photo and the caption, does not give away any “context,” hence leaving us with very little real information.

Harbour did share that he has wrapped filming on season 3 of Stranger Things—and that we can kiss his mustache goodbye.

The mysterious post raises a number of questions. In the photo, Harbour rocks a hat that supports a local Hawkins business. The hat reads, "Gary's Plumbing & Heating, Warming Hawkins, IN since 1972."

We’re not sure if the hat is referencing the Gary already in the show, as he is the coroner, but we can’t wait to find out.

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