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Directed by Robert Lieberman
Produced by Harold Lee Tichenor
Rocky Lang
Written by Ross LaManna
Joyce Eliason
Starring Peter Gallagher
George C. Scott
Catherine Zeta-Jones
Eva Marie Saint
Tim Curry
Harley Jane Kozak
Marilu Henner
Music by Lennie Niehaus
Cinematography David Hennings
Editing by Tod Feuerman
Distributed by RHI Entertainment
Release date(s) November 17, 1996
Running time 173 min.
Country Canada/United States
Language English
Budget $13,000,000 (estimated)

Titanic is a made-for-TV movie that premiered on CBS in 1996.[1] Titanic follows several characters on board the RMS Titanic when she sinks on her maiden voyage in 1912. The miniseries was directed by Robert Lieberman.[2] The original music score was composed by Lennie Niehaus.[3]


Plot summary

Titanic has three different storylines. Mrs. Isabella Paradine is traveling on the Titanic to join her husband. On the Titanic, she meets Wynn Park, her former lover. She falls in love with him again, sending her husband a telegram saying that they can't be together anymore. When the ship starts sinking, Isabella must reluctantly leave Wynn. Later on board the RMS Carpathia she is grief stricken and sad when she finds Wynn's lifeless body on a lifeboat and learns he has died of hypothermia, but luckily she is reunited with her family when the Carpathia reaches New York.

Also in first class is the Allison family, a real family who traveled on the Titanic, returning home to Montreal with their two small children and new nurse, Alice Cleaver. They notice something wrong with her; a maid asks her if she had been in Cairo the previous month but soon realizes that she remembers her from the highly-publicized trial where Alice was accused of throwing her baby off a train. When the Titanic starts sinking, Alice Cleaver panics and quickly boards a lifeboat with Trevor, the Allisons' infant son. The parents are unaware that the baby is safe and refuse to leave without him, which in the end costs them their lives. They die in the sinking.

In third class, Jamie Pierce steals a ticket to get on board. He manages to become friends with the ship's purser Simon Doonan, who is a robber. Jamie falls in love with Åse Ludvigsen and they spend time on board together. However, Åse is raped by Doonan and is no longer able to trust anyone. When the ship hits the iceberg, Jamie cannot convince Åse to get into a lifeboat, but eventually she does. Jamie is knocked overboard the Titanic when a seaman knocks him off the boat deck and onto a lifeboat being lowered in which saves Jamie, but in the result he injures his arm. However after the ship sinks, Ase is knocked off the lifeboat by Doonan, who has disguised himself to take control of the lifeboat. However, Doonan is killed when he is knocked overboard by the officer and drowns. Ase is taken to the medical treatment in the Carpathia, where she is reunited with Jamie. In the end, upon arriving in New York, the two plan to start a new life together.


Actor [4] Role[5]
Peter Gallagher Wynn Park
George C. Scott Capt. Edward Smith
Catherine Zeta-Jones Isabella Paradine
Eva Marie Saint Hazel Foley
Tim Curry Simon Doonan
Roger Rees J. Bruce Ismay
Harley Jane Kozak Bess Allison
Marilu Henner Margaret "Molly" Brown
Mike Doyle Jamie Perse
Sonsee Neu Aase Ludvigsen
Felicity Waterman Alice Cleaver
Malcolm Stewart First Officer William Murdoch
Kevin McNulty Second Officer Charles Lightoller
Kavan Smith Fifth Officer Harold Lowe
Terence Kelly Capt. Arthur Rostron
Scott Hylands John Jacob Astor IV
Jane Mortil Madeleine Astor
Tamsin Kelsey Clarinda Jack
Eric Keenleyside "Black" Billy Jack
Kevin Conway Hudson J. Allison
Barry Pepper Assistant Marconi Operator Harold Bride


Titanic received mostly negative reviews. The New York Daily News commented on the fact that the acting was substandard and the ship's operators and owner are portrayed "about as sympathetically as those connected with the Exxon Valdez."[6] The Seattle Post-Intelligencer also referenced the "embarrassingly bad acting" and out of place scenes.[7] The film garnered mostly negative and positive reviews from critics. It is a "Certified Fresh" film on Rotten Tomatoes, with 69% overall approval from critics.

The film however bears some resemblances to the 1997 theatrical film of the same name in that the female leads, played by Catherine Zeta-Jones and Kate Winslet, respectively, are at odds with the privileged lifestyles they're living. Also, a historical personality, First Officer William McMaster Murdoch commits suicide in both films, an event which is fictitious.


Titanic received an Emmy Award for Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special. It was also nominated for Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special.[8]

Year Category Nominee(s) Result
1997 Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Drama Miniseries or a Special David Husby, David E. Fluhr, Adam Jenkins, Don Digirolamo Won
Outstanding Costume Design for a Miniseries or a Special Joe I. Tompkins, Jori Woodman Nominated

Historical Inaccuracies

  • Molly Brown boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, France, not at Southampton, England as depicted in the film.
  • In the film, the Southampton crowd is shown waving off the Titanic off the starboard side. In real life, they did so on the port side.
  • In a scene coming very close after the one in which Titanic collides with the iceberg, Captain Smith is seen with a blueprint rolled out on a table, explaining the nature of the ship's damage - and how long she would remain afloat - to White Star Line Director Bruce Ismay and the senior officers. According to eyewitness testimony, though, it was Titanic designer Thomas Andrews of Harland & Wolff Shipyards, not Captain Smith, who presented this assessment to the Captain, senior officers, and Bruce Ismay. Indeed, the character of Thomas Andrews, who played a key role in the events that night, is not seen anywhere in the movie at all.
  • In the movie, Captain Smith is shown complaining that the distress rockets should be red instead of white. White was the correct color.
  • A caption at the end of the film claims that "All attempts to raise [the Titanic] have failed," since its rediscovery in 1985. In fact, no attempt to raise the Titanic has ever been made. They must have confused that with the film and novel Raise the Titanic, which is not based on any historical event at all. It is a fictional story written by Clive Cussler, which was published in 1980, before the Titanic's discovery in 1985, in which it was based on the theory that the Titanic sunk in one piece, but this was the first Titanic movie to show the ship break in two pieces.
  • The First-Class dining room was actually located on D Deck, not on A Deck right below the Grand Staircase as depicted in the film.
  • Alice Cleaver was not a child murderess as portrayed in the movie. She has often been confused with Alice Mary Cleaver the child murderer. The Allison family did have a nurse named Alice that survived the sinking of the Titanic, but her name was Alice Catherine Cleaver (the Titanic survivor)
  • The Titanic actually had a dome over the Grand Staircase, not a regular ceiling and chandelier as depicted in the movie.
  • There was no organized dancing on the Titanic as depicted in the film.
  • The term "see through" was not used for fabrics until about 1950.
  • The Titanic's lookouts did indeed have to work without binoculars, but not because they had been taken to the bridge for use there.
  • Catherine Zeta Jones' character, Isabella, is shown walking up a wooden staircase into a sort of cafe. This part of the ship was never constructed, and did not exist.
  • Alice Cleaver, the Allisons' nanny, either had a roommate and did not sleep with the Allison children, or only slept with Trevor in their stateroom. The film shows her in the same cabin as Loraine.
  • Molly Brown and the other passengers did not go to dinner after boarding the ship as portrayed in the film. They boarded the ship while dinner was being served, and did not have time to eat.
  • 1st Officer William McMaster Murdoch is not proven to have committed suicide by shooting himself in the head as he does in the film.
  • In the scene where Isabella asks for a change of cabin, the steward states that everything is booked solid. In reality it was not, First Class was less than half full.
  • After the scene where the RMS Carpathia arrives in New York, there is a scene on the balcony / walkway where the corner of the American flag shows. The flag has a field of stars staggered like in today's 50-star flag. The flag in 1912 would have been stars in a field of blue in straight rows.[Actually, in April of 1912, the U.S. Flag was a staggered 46 state design, as the 47th & 48th states, Arizona & New Mexico were not admitted to the Union until July 4th of that year.]
  • There is a mention of a brig in the film, but in truth, there was no prison of any kind on board the ship. Furthermore, the word brig is a naval term and would not be used on a civilian vessel.
  • Sunrise on April 14 at a latitude near 40 degrees north would be before 5:30 am local solar time. It is shown as occurring at 7:00 am, impossible by any reasonable clock setting. Daylight Saving Time was not in use in 1912.
  • Molly Brown makes a remark to Captain Smith about his retirement in three days, and he accepts this. In reality, Smith was to reitre only after the return trip to England.
  • There was no gate between the steerage to first class on A deck. The egress from steerage around that area led to B deck.
  • Some scenes later after the Titanic collides with an Iceberg, Captain Smith says to Ismay that the ship has precisely the number of lifeboats required by the British Board of Trade regulations. In fact it had 4 collapsible lifeboats in addition to the 16 boats that were required.
  • The film states that the Allison family are Americans. In reality, they were Canadians.
  • John Jacob Astor IV actually had one son and one daughter from his first marriage, not two sons as stated in the film.
  • John Jacob Astor did not say, "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous;" this is only a myth.


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