A Night to Remember

A scene from the final hours of the Titanic in 1958's "A Night to Remember," released on DVD by Criterion. (Photo courtesy of the Criterion Collection / March 23, 2012)

We're about three weeks away from the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster, so it makes perfect sense that Criterion is putting out new Blu-rayand DVD releases of the 1958 “A Night to Remember,” almost simultaneously with James Cameron's theatrical reissue of his version converted into 3D and Fox's Blu-ray release of its less beloved 1953 “Titanic.” (If you want a totally different experience, try the 1943 German “Titanic,” whose director Herbert Selpin was executed by the Nazi regime before the film was finished.)

“A Night to Remember” was, at the time, considered the final cinematic word on the subject; I won't comment on whether or not it still should be. Of all the fictionalized versions, it follows the historical details most closely; no time for made up romances or intrigue. The iceberg is sighted within the first half hour.

Criterion has put together a terrific package: It includes the commentary from its original 1993 DVD (almost entirely focused on the history, not the filmmaking), as well as that edition's hour long “Making of” documentary. It adds roughly two hours of additional material: a 23-minute archival interview with survivor Eva Hart; a subtitled half-hour Swedish documentary produced in 1962 for the event's 50th anniversary; and an hour long BBC “biography” of the fatal iceberg.
 
"A Night to Remember" (Criterion, Blu-ray, $39.95; DVD, $29.95)

ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on “FilmWeek” on KPCC-FM (89.3).