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11 Movies About the Titanic You've Probably Never Heard Of

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When James Cameron decided to make a film about the sinking of the Titanic, he wasn’t exactly venturing into uncharted waters. Ever since the disaster struck in 1912, there has been a steady stream of movies depicting the tragedy, including an early “talkie,” an '80s political thriller, and a bizarre animated musical that has to be seen to be believed. So if you’re not a fan of the DiCaprio version, know that plenty of other options are out there.

1. SAVED FROM THE TITANIC (1912)

On April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m., the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean. During the wee hours of the next morning, she vanished beneath the waves, killing over 1500 people in the process. Then, on May 14 of that very same year, the first in what would become a long line of motion pictures about the disaster was released. That’s right: The first-ever Titanic film came out a mere 29 days after the boat sank!

Produced by Éclair Studios, the picture was called Saved From the Titanic. Today, it’s regarded as a movie of huge historical significance, and not just because of the release date. This film stars Dorothy Gibson, an actress who was saved from the real Titanic. When that vessel started to go under, Gibson was among the 2228 people aboard. Luckily for her, she managed to secure a spot on the very first lifeboat that was lowered into the water. A passing ship called the RMS Carpathia rescued her, along with many other survivors.

Saved From the Titanic is a fictionalization of Gibson’s harrowing experience. For some extra authenticity, she wore the same outfit that she’d donned when the Carpathia found her. Reliving the worst night of her life took an awful toll on Gibson. It was said that she’d often sob uncontrollably during the shoot, and the actress endured a mental breakdown after production wrapped. No known copies of Saved From the Titanic have survived to the present day—although a few promotional photos still exist.

2. IN NACHT UND EIS (1912)

Another silent drama, In Nacht und Eis (“Night Time in the Ice”) was directed by Mime Misu, a former barber. Filmed in northern Germany, the movie premiered at a Berlin theater on August 17, 1912. At 42 minutes from start to finish, In Nacht Und Eis was deemed unusually long by the standards of its period. Back in the early 1910s, most movies had a runtime of 20 minutes or less. Evidently, really long Titanic flicks are nothing new.

For decades, movie historians believed that In Nacht und Eis—like Saved From the Titanic—had been lost to history. But in 1998, two private collectors and a major German film archive all came forward with original copies of Misu’s film. The salvaged footage has since been re-edited into a shortened cut that can be viewed with English subtitles on YouTube.

3. ATLANTIC (1929)

Also known as Disaster in the Atlantic, this was the very first “talkie” to be inspired by the Titanic’s ill-fated voyage. It’s a cinematic adaptation of The Berg, a stage play that had recently opened to rave reviews in West London. Interestingly, while playwright Ernest Raymond extensively researched the Titanic catastrophe for his show, the play never actually mentions this ship by name. The Berg chronicles the final two hours of an unidentified ocean liner that’s just had a lethal run-in with a mass of floating ice. Similarly, the movie version refers to its vessel as the Atlantic. This was likely done at the request of the White Star Line, the British shipping company that had built the Titanic between 1909 and 1911. Still, some newspapers connected the dots anyway, describing the picture as a “Film of the Titanic.”

4. TITANIC (1943)

In 1941, Joseph Goebbels—Adolf Hitler’s Propaganda Minister—decided to create a big-budget film about history’s most famous shipwreck. Of course, it wouldn’t exactly be a faithful retelling. With World War II underway, Goebbels and screenwriter Harald Bratt envisioned this project as a way to smear Germany’s chief adversary: Great Britain. To do so, the script threw accuracy out the window. The movie’s villain is J. Bruce Ismay, an English businessman who’d presided over the White Star Line in real life and was on the Titanic when she sank. However, Goebbels’s film shows him bribing the captain to speed up the ship so that the voyage can set a new Transatlantic passage record. This is pure fiction, wholly unsupported by the evidence, and the only character who ever warns Ismay about the dangers of icebergs is a made-up German officer named Petersen. At the end of the movie, Petersen tries to bring this greedy scoundrel to justice before a board of inquiry. Since the ruling body is 100 percent British, Ismay—naturally—gets off scot-free. Titanic proceeds to hammer in its prejudiced message with a title card at the end of the film that says “The death of 1,500 passengers remains unatoned for, an eternal condemnation of England’s quest for profit.”

Director Herbert Selpin received a budget that was the equivalent of $155.8 million in modern U.S. money to make the movie. With that generous budget, his team was able to construct a 30-foot model of the doomed ship for the sinking scene. The government also gave Selphin more or less whatever he asked for—including an actual ocean liner that was used in exterior shots. In fact, despite the ongoing war, German soldiers were temporarily taken out of the front lines and utilized as Titanic extras.

Selphin never lived to see his propagandic masterpiece. Once word got out that he’d voiced some unpatriotic remarks, the director was hanged in 1942. Ironically, when Titanic was finished, Goebbels worried that audiences would see it as an anti-Nazi movie. Ismay’s foolhardiness, he feared, might be interpreted as a metaphor for Hitler’s recent military blunders. Ergo, the propaganda minister banned Titanic from German cinemas. (A heavily edited version was subsequently screened in Deutschland during the 1950s.)

5. TITANIC (1953)

An unhappily married couple struggles to settle their differences on the Titanic’s ill-fated trip in this 1953 offering from director Jean Negulesco. Starring Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb, the movie mostly consists of fictional characters modeled after real passengers. For the climax, Stanwyck found herself seated on a replica lifeboat that was suspended some 47 feet above a frothing, outdoor tank at the studios of 20th Century Fox. These circumstances really gave her pause. “I thought of the men and women who had been through this thing in our time,” she later said. “We were recreating an actual tragedy and I burst into tears. I shook with great raking sobs and couldn’t stop.” At the 1954 Academy Awards, Titanic received an Oscar for Best Writing (Story and Screenplay).

6. A NIGHT TO REMEMBER (1958)

When producer William MacQuitty was 6 years old, he watched the RMS Titanic depart from Belfast, where she’d been built. This was an experience he never forgot. In 1956, MacQuitty optioned the movie rights for A Night to Remember, historian Walter Lord’s bestselling book about the ship’s demise. Released in 1958, the completed film recycled some of the sinking footage from Selphin’s picture. Despite this, A Night To Remember was beloved by critics and is sometimes cited as the most historically accurate Titanic movie ever made. While Lord was putting the book together, he interviewed no less than 64 survivors. MacQuitty wisely recruited him as a consultant, and the man’s expertise heavily influenced the final script. Lord would go on to become an advisor for James Cameron’s Titanic decades later.

7. S.O.S. TITANIC (1979)

A made-for-TV movie, S.O.S. Titanic sees Cloris Leachman of Young Frankenstein fame playing the famous Titanic survivor Molly Brown—whom we’ll discuss in more detail shortly. Additionally, Helen Mirren makes an appearance as an Irish chambermaid.

8. RAISE THE TITANIC (1980)

Although he’s a world-famous novelist, very few of Clive Cussler’s books have been turned into films. Here’s why: In 1976, Cussler’s third published book, Raise the Titanic!, made an enormous splash. The thriller spent 22 weeks on The New York Times bestseller list, much to the surprise of its author. “I was dumbfounded,” Cussler recalled, “It was such a far-out idea—raising the Titanic—that I thought nobody would buy it. I didn’t realize what a fascination so many people have with that grand old ship.”

The plot revolves around a rare, fictional mineral called byzanium, which can be used to build a revolutionary new anti-missile defense system. Suspecting that a treasure trove of this material was stored on the Titanic when she sank, America’s government hatches a wild plot to recover the bounty by lifting the entire vessel out of her watery grave.

ITC Entertainment swooped in to secure the movie rights, but before shooting started, the movie ran into some behind-the-scenes trouble courtesy of its star attraction: the Titanic itself. A 55-foot, 11-ton scale model of the famed ocean liner was meticulously constructed at a cost of $5 million. On top of that, the effects team built a $3.3 million tank in which to film their colossal miniature. Additionally, certain scenes featured a retired cruise ship, which had to be heavily modified so that it could pass for the real Titanic. Expenses like these put the film massively over-budget and its final price tag ended up exceeding that of George Lucas’s The Empire Strikes Back. Alas, that spared-no-expense mentality didn’t result in much box office success. Raise the Titanic became one of 1980’s most notorious bombs, earning an abysmal $7 million in the U.S. Moreover, Cussler was infuriated by the film’s numerous departures from its source material. As such, he didn’t allow any of his other novels to become motion pictures until Sahara got the Hollywood treatment in 2005.

On a different note, you’ll notice that Raise the Titanic shows the eponymous vessel ascending towards the surface in one piece. Those who saw the boat sink gave conflicting reports about whether or not it had broken in two before submerging. Some eyewitnesses swore that the Titanic more or less descended intact, others disagreed. This debate was settled in 1985, when the wreck was discovered by a French-American team. We now know that the stern indeed broke off from the prow—although the separation probably bore little resemblance to what we see in Cameron’s Titanic.

9. THE CHAMBERMAID ON THE TITANIC (1998)

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Adapted from a novel by Didier Decoin, Chambermaid is about a poor French foundry worker who wins an annual coal-toting contest. The grand prize? A trip to watch the RMS Titanic depart from Southampton, England on her first—and last—voyage. The night before, he meets an enchanting chambermaid who’s scheduled to depart with the ship.

10. TITANIC: THE LEGEND GOES ON (2001)

Rapping dogs, anyone? This Italian-made animated musical follows a family of mice who hitch a ride to America aboard the Titanic, where they eavesdrop on some kindly humans. Like many films on this list, Titanic: The Legend Goes On includes a romantic subplot. But, uniquely, it also comes with a shaggy canine who, at one point, grabs a boom-box and starts freestyling like a ‘90s hip-hop artist. We are dead serious about this. Incidentally, the year 2001 saw the release of yet another animated Titanic movie—one which posits that the boat really sank because some evil sharks tricked a Godzilla-sized octopus into hurling an iceberg at it.

11. TITANIC II (2010)

Set 100 years after the iconic ship sank (ie: 2012), Titanic II tracks the journey of a luxury cruise liner whose name gives the movie its title. Just as you’d expect, disaster strikes, though it is worth noting that a tsunami is what does this particular vessel in. Titanic II was created by The Asylum, an independent production company best known for its 2013 surprise smash, Sharknado.

BONUS: THE UNSINKABLE MOLLY BROWN (1964)

Although the Titanic doesn’t play a huge role in this MGM movie musical, it warrants a mention anyway. Based on a Broadway show of the same name, the film depicts the life and times of Margaret Brown (1867-1932), an American socialite and women’s suffrage advocate.

In 1912, she took a vacation through Rome, Paris, and Egypt, accompanied all the way by her daughter, Helen. The trip was spoiled when Brown learned that her grandson had grown ill back home. While Helen stayed behind in London, Margaret took the next available stateside ship: The RMS Titanic. One night on the open ocean, she was abruptly thrown out of her bed by some violent collision. Brown was soon informed that the vessel had run into an iceberg and was told to grab a lifesaver. Fortunately for her, she received a seat on life boat number six, along with 23 other passengers.

At roughly 4:30 a.m. on April 15, rescue came when Brown and her companions were hauled onto the Carpathia. Once aboard, she started combing the ship for blankets to help cover those who lay shivering on the floors. Realizing that many survivors had lost everything when the Titanic went down, Brown also convinced her fellow first-class passengers to set aside some money on behalf of their less-fortunate counterparts. By the time the Carpathia docked in New York City, $10,000 had been raised for these needy travelers. Word of Brown’s heroism spread, turning her into a national hero. From Denver gossip columnist Polly Pry, she received a catchy nickname: “the unsinkable Molly Brown.”

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(c) Field Museum, CSZ5974c, photographer Carl Akeley, used with permission.
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Animals
The Time Carl Akeley Killed a Leopard With His Bare Hands
(c) Field Museum, CSZ5974c, photographer Carl Akeley, used with permission.
(c) Field Museum, CSZ5974c, photographer Carl Akeley, used with permission.

Carl Akeley had plenty of close encounters with animals in his long career as a naturalist and taxidermist. There was the time a bull elephant had charged him on Mount Kenya, nearly crushing him; the time he was unarmed and charged by three rhinos who missed him, he said later, only because the animals had such poor vision; and the time the tumbling body of a silverback gorilla he'd just shot almost knocked him off a cliff. This dangerous tradition began on his very first trip to Africa, where, on an otherwise routine hunting trip, the naturalist became the prey.

It was 1896. Following stints at Ward’s Natural Science Establishment and the Milwaukee Public Museum, Akeley, 32, had just been appointed chief taxidermist for Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, and he was tasked with gathering new specimens to bolster the 3-year-old museum's fledgling collections. After more than four months of travel and numerous delays, the expedition had reached the plains of Ogaden, a region of Ethiopia, where Akeley hunted for specimens for days without success.

Then, one morning, Akeley managed to shoot a hyena shortly after he left camp. Unfortunately, “one look at his dead carcass was enough to satisfy me that he was not as desirable as I had thought, for his skin was badly diseased,” he later wrote in his autobiography, In Brightest Africa. He shot a warthog, a fine specimen, but what he really wanted was an ostrich—so he left the carcass behind, climbed a termite hill to look for the birds, then took off after a pair he saw in the tall grass.

But the ostriches eluded him at every turn, so he returned to camp and grabbed the necessary tools to cut off the head of his warthog. However, when he and a “pony boy” got to the spot where he’d left the carcass, all that remained was a bloodstain. “A crash in the bushes at one side led me in a hurry in that direction and a little later I saw my pig's head in the mouth of a hyena travelling up the slope of a ridge out of range,” Akeley wrote. “That meant that my warthog specimen was lost, and, having got no ostriches, I felt it was a pretty poor day.”

As the sun began to set, Akeley and the boy turned back to camp. “As we came near to the place where I had shot the diseased hyena in the morning, it occurred to me that perhaps there might be another hyena about the carcass, and feeling a bit ‘sore’ at the tribe for stealing my warthog, I thought I might pay off the score by getting a good specimen of a hyena for the collections,” he wrote. But that carcass was gone, too, with a drag trail in the sand leading into the bush.

Akeley heard a sound, and, irritated, “did a very foolish thing,” firing into the bush without seeing what he was shooting at. He knew, almost immediately, that he'd made a mistake: The answering snarl told him that what he’d fired at was not a hyena at all, but a leopard.

The taxidermist began thinking of all the things he knew about the big cats. A leopard, he wrote,

“... has all the qualities that gave rise to the ‘nine lives’ legend: To kill him you have got to kill him clear to the tip of his tail. Added to that, a leopard, unlike a lion, is vindictive. A wounded leopard will fight to a finish practically every time, no matter how many chances it has to escape. Once aroused, its determination is fixed on fight, and if a leopard ever gets hold, it claws and bites until its victim is in shreds. All this was in my mind, and I began looking about for the best way out of it, for I had no desire to try conclusions with a possibly wounded leopard when it was so late in the day that I could not see the sights of my rifle.”

Akeley beat a hasty retreat. He’d return the next morning, he figured, when he could see better; if he’d wounded the leopard, he could find it again then. But the leopard had other ideas. It pursued him, and Akeley fired again, even though he couldn’t see enough to aim. “I could see where the bullets struck as the sand spurted up beyond the leopard. The first two shots went above her, but the third scored. The leopard stopped and I thought she was killed.”

The leopard had not been killed. Instead, she charged—and Akeley’s magazine was empty. He reloaded the rifle, but as he spun to face the leopard, she leapt on him, knocking it out of his hands. The 80-pound cat landed on him. “Her intention was to sink her teeth into my throat and with this grip and her forepaws hang to me while with her hind claws she dug out my stomach, for this pleasant practice is the way of leopards,” Akeley wrote. “However, happily for me, she missed her aim.” The wounded cat had landed to one side; instead of Akeley’s throat in her mouth, she had his upper right arm, which had the fortuitous effect of keeping her hind legs off his stomach.

It was good luck, but the fight of Akeley’s life had just begun.

Using his left hand, he attempted to loosen the leopard’s hold. “I couldn't do it except little by little,” he wrote. “When I got grip enough on her throat to loosen her hold just a little she would catch my arm again an inch or two lower down. In this way I drew the full length of the arm through her mouth inch by inch.”

He felt no pain, he wrote, “only of the sound of the crushing of tense muscles and the choking, snarling grunts of the beast.” When his arm was nearly free, Akeley fell on the leopard. His right hand was still in her mouth, but his left hand was still on her throat. His knees were on her chest and his elbows in her armpits, “spreading her front legs apart so that the frantic clawing did nothing more than tear my shirt.”

It was a scramble. The leopard tried to twist around and gain the advantage, but couldn’t get purchase on the sand. “For the first time,” Akeley wrote, “I began to think and hope I had a chance to win this curious fight.”

He called for the boy, hoping he’d bring a knife, but received no response. So he held on to the animal and “continued to shove the hand down her throat so hard she could not close her mouth and with the other I gripped her throat in a stranglehold.” He bore down with his full weight on her chest, and felt a rib crack. He did it again—another crack. “I felt her relax, a sort of letting go, although she was still struggling. At the same time I felt myself weakening similarly, and then it became a question as to which would give up first.”

Slowly, her struggle ceased. Akeley had won. He lay there for a long time, keeping the leopard in his death grip. “After what seemed an interminable passage of time I let go and tried to stand, calling to the pony boy that it was finished.” The leopard, he later told Popular Science Monthly, had then shown signs of life; Akeley used the boy’s knife to make sure it was really, truly dead.

Akeley’s arm was shredded, and he was weak—so weak that he couldn’t carry the leopard back to camp. “And then a thought struck me that made me waste no time,” he told Popular Science. “That leopard has been eating the horrible diseased hyena I had killed. Any leopard bite is liable to give one blood poison, but this particular leopard’s mouth must have been exceptionally foul.”

He and the boy must have been quite the sight when they finally made it back to camp. His companions had heard the shots, and figured Akeley had either faced off with a lion or the natives; whatever the scenario, they figured Akeley would prevail or be defeated before they could get to him, so they kept on eating dinner. But when Akeley appeared, with “my clothes ... all ripped, my arm ... chewed into an unpleasant sight, [with] blood and dirt all over me,” he wrote in In Brightest Africa, “my appearance was quite sufficient to arrest attention.”

He demanded all the antiseptics the camp had to offer. After he'd been washed with cold water, “the antiseptic was pumped into every one of the innumerable tooth wounds until my arm was so full of the liquid that an injection in one drove it out of another,” he wrote. “During the process I nearly regretted that the leopard had not won.”

When that was done, Akeley was taken to his tent, and the dead leopard was brought in and laid out next to his cot. Her right hind leg was wounded—which, he surmised, had come from his first shot into the brush, and was what had thrown off her pounce—and she had a flesh wound in the back of her neck where his last shot had hit her, “from the shock of which she had instantly recovered.”

Not long after his close encounter with the leopard, the African expedition was cut short when its leader contracted malaria, and Akeley returned to Chicago. The whole experience, he wrote to a friend later, transported him back to a particular moment at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition, which he’d visited after creating taxidermy mounts for the event. “As I struggled to wrest my arm from the mouth of the leopard I recalled vividly a bronze at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, depicting the struggle between a man and bear, the man’s arm in the mouth of the bear,” he wrote. “I had stood in front of this bronze one afternoon with a doctor friend and we discussed the probable sensations of a man in this predicament, wondering whether or not the man would be sensible to the pain of the chewing and the rending of his flesh by the bear. I was thinking as the leopard tore at me that now I knew exactly what the sensations were, but that unfortunately I would not live to tell my doctor friend.”

In the moment, though, there had been no pain, “just the joy of a good fight,” Akeley wrote, “and I did live to tell my [doctor] friend all about it.”

Additional source: Kingdom Under Glass: A Tale of Obsession, Adventure, and One Man's Quest to Preserve the World's Great Animals

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Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons // Nigel Parry, USA Network
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crime
Meghan Markle Is Related to H.H. Holmes, America’s First Serial Killer, According to New Documentary
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons // Nigel Parry, USA Network
Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons // Nigel Parry, USA Network

Between staging paparazzi photos and writing open letters to Prince Harry advising him to call off his wedding, Meghan Markle’s family has been keeping the media pretty busy lately. But it turns out that her bloodline's talent for grabbing headlines dates back much further than the announcement that Markle and Prince Harry were getting hitched—and for much more sinister reasons. According to Meet the Markles, a new television documentary produced for England’s Channel Four, the former Suits star has a distant relation to H.H. Holmes, America’s first serial killer.

The claim comes from Holmes’s great-great-grandson, American lawyer Jeff Mudgett, who recently discovered that he and Markle are eighth cousins. If that connection is correct, then it would mean that Markle, too, is related to Holmes.

While finding out that you’re related—however distantly—to a man believed to have murdered 27 people isn’t something you’d probably want to share with Queen Elizabeth II when asking her to pass the Yorkshire pudding over Christmas dinner, what makes the story even more interesting is that Mudgett believes that his great-great-grandpa was also Jack the Ripper!

Mudgett came to this conclusion based on Holmes’s personal diaries, which he inherited. In 2017, American Ripper—an eight-part History Channel series—investigated Mudgett’s belief that Holmes and Jack were indeed one in the same.

When asked about his connection to Markle, and their shared connection to Holmes—and, possibly, Jack the Ripper—Mudgett replied:

“We did a study with the FBI and CIA and Scotland Yard regarding handwriting analysis. It turns out [H. H. Holmes] was Jack the Ripper. This means Meghan is related to Jack the Ripper. I don’t think the Queen knows. I am not proud he is my ancestor. Meghan won’t be either.”

Shortly thereafter he clarified his comments via his personal Facebook page:

In the 130 years since Jack the Ripper terrorized London’s Whitechapel neighborhood, hundreds of names have been put forth as possible suspects, but authorities have never been able to definitively conclude who committed the infamous murders. So if Alice's Adventures in Wonderland author Lewis Carroll could have done it, why not the distant relative of the royal family's newest member?

[h/t: ID CrimeFeed]

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