Before James Cameron’s monumental Titanic (released theatrically this week in a costly and painstaking 3-D conversion), there was Roy Ward Baker’s A Night to Remember (1958), which is currently out on Blu-ray from the Criterion Collection. Elegant, restrained, and gripping come to mind, and for many this remains the key movie to watch about the Titanic disaster. (Next Saturday, of course, marks the 100th anniversary and the TCM Classic Film Fest has the U.S. premiere of the restoration at the Chinese at 9:30 pm.) Scripted wonderfully by Eric Ambler, A Night to Remember (starring Kenneth More and featuring Honor Blackman and a very young David McCallum) is a study in “nobility under pressure,” as film critic Michael Sragow reminds us in his enlightening Criterion notes.
Geoffrey Unsworth’s black and white cinematography is sumptuous once again, thanks to the ITV Studios Global Ent. restoration (carried out at the Perivale Archive). Deluxe 142 partnered on the digital picture restoration, scanning the original 35 mm camera negative on an ARRI Laser Scanner at 2K resolution.
“On A Night to Remember, … there are two important features — both associated with the film’s maritime location – which needed to be taken into consideration, explains Deluxe 142′s David Collard. “First, dancing highlights on water meant that you couldn’t automate restoration on these sections of the film because the highlights might be identified as dust and removed. Second, use of the automated stabilization tools would be an issue on sections of the film featuring lifeboats because they would attempt to correct the natural rolling of the boats. Image Systems’ Relativity and Clarity were used to soften the grain build up, which you inevitably get when you go from first to third generation film stock.”
According to Fiona Maxwell, restoration project advisor, “Another challenge was to put the film back to its original full length, as there was a scene which was originally removed for the release. This was the scene where Kenneth More helps a survivor holding a baby out of the water. He checks to see if the baby is breathing but, sadly, the child is already dead. The shot of a child being lowered into the water by Kenneth More was absent from the original release negative.”
Trevor Brown, the colorist at Deluxe 142, explained: “ Due to the censor cut we had to reinsert the missing shot and to cover the nasty join on the cut negatives. We inserted a fade down and up in DI. We had to do a little bit of an edit on this because of some negative damage but it’s in the original film.”