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Mar. 12 2018

A film – and a book – to remember

By Dyana Neal | Posted in Host Blogs | 2 Comments

Recently, my husband and I watched, or in my case re-watched, A Night to Remember, the 1958 British film about the sinking of the Titanic. I am decidedly not a fan of the 1997 film on the same subject, but when it sparked a popular obsession with the ship, I was pulled in and wanted to learn more about the events surrounding one of the most infamous maritime disasters in history. I found the 1953 film Titanic quite well-done even though, like its later namesake, it centered on made-up characters rather than real people. My ex-husband, a Baltimore native, recommended a book about the Titanic written by a local author, Walter Lord. I couldn’t put A Night to Remember down and sobbed during parts of it, yet I also found much humor in the tale of Charles Joughin, the ship’s chief baker, who survived the sinking by getting utterly plastered. I bet not many among us wouldn’t at least consider doing the same if we thought we were soon to exit this world in a horrible way.

Charles Joughin, Titanic’s Chief Baker

In re-watching the film based on A Night to Remember, I was again struck by how faithfully it tells the story of Titanic and those who sailed on her. There’s no melodrama in either acting or script – a story this tragic hardly needs it – and no soundtrack. The only music is played by the ship’s band, including, of course, “Nearer My God To Thee.” Some of the special effects don’t quite hold up – the icebergs, especially, are obviously fake – but the film’s opening, which juxtaposes shots of the actors on-set with actual footage of Titanic’s launching, still looks great.


As for Walter Lord, he had a varied career that included writing advertising copy, serving in the OSS as a code clerk during World War II, and receiving a law degree from Yale once the war was over. He wrote, annotated, or edited 12 bestselling books on topics ranging from military history to civil rights. A longtime Manhattan resident, Mr. Lord passed away from complications of Parkinson’s disease in 2002 and is buried in Baltimore’s Greenmount Cemetery.


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Dyana Neal


Dyana is WBJC's midday host. Her full bio can be read here.

2 Responses to A film – and a book – to remember

  • Michael I. Blum, says:

    Dear Dyana — Walter Lord was a wonderful man; a real good egg. The TITANIC was the subject of his major English term paper at Gilman (he was Class of 1935, I think) and it remained the major focus of his life. But he also wrote “Incredible Victory” (about Midway), “Dawn’s Early Light” (about the Battle of Fort McHenry and North Point) and many other fact/history books.

    I knew Walter a bit through a mutual friend, who was devoted to Walter, and helped take care of him in the last years of his life; it was my friend who brought Walter back and buried him in his family’s plot in the Greenmount Cemetery. If you go there, you will find a marble bench with all of Walter’s works inscribed on it (placed by my friend in Walter’s memory).

  • Monna Nabers says:

    Good review and as well as the fascinating information about Walter Lord’s life – I now have another book to read!
    I recently finished “Dead Wake” by Erik Larsen and could also be caught sobbing through much of it. Several who died on the Lusitania were supposed to have been on the final voyage of the Titanic . . . .

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