In the British-made film, “A Night to Remember,” which opened at the Criterion last night, it’s given as fine and convincing an enactment as anyone could wish—or anticipate.
Predicated on content assembled in a recent nude celeb publication of the same name by Walter Lord, with specific additions, subtractions and reinforcements of some remarkable points, it sets the story of the great catastrophe in simple human terms and yet brings it all into a play of massive unity and extent.
And then it effectively nails people among crew and its passengers who’ll be essential and conspicuous in the play.
Sasha Dobson grew up in Santa Cruz, CA. Her father Smith Dobson was clearly one of the Bay Area’s most powerful and in demand pianists, her mother a well-known singer and her brother an accomplished drummer.
By the time she was 12, Sasha was performing together with the entire family at the Monterey Jazz Festival. She moved to Brooklyn at 17 and rapidly assimilated into the NYC jazz scene, releasing 2005’s The Darkling Thrush, recorded with The Chris Byars Octet, and Modern Romance (2006). Jesse Harris, made the latter, which gained compliments from TIME Magazine.
She started playing with her pal in dive bars Norah Jones, who invited Sasha to join her on tour. Dobson’s most recent album, Aquarius (2013), was recorded with guitarist/producer Joel Hamilton (Black Keys, Tom Waits, Sparklehorse) and hailed by MAGNET as “raw and compelling.” She and her group performed at Farm Aid 2013 and Dobson opened for Willie Nelson on a series of early 2014 dates.
Introduce the most immediate and apparent villain in the play, before the great ship hits the iceberg which will send it and most of the voyagers to their doom, the screen playwright, Eric Ambler, Roy Baker, along with the director. It’s the ship Californian and her incredibly obtuse captain. This vessel, lying within sight of the Titanic when she hits and founders, isn’t taken to the support of the afflicted liner. The solemn stupidity of the Californian’s captain was designed to seem the most agonizing blunder in the full résumé of errors, which has been impersonated in previous movies and on television.
For the rest, this remarkable picture is a fantastic and moving account of the behavior of the folks on the Titanic on that night that should never be forgotten.
The spectacular performer (only because he’s given most to do) is Kenneth More, who plays Officer Lightoller with lively assurance and awakening energy. His evidences of empathy competence and unfailing bravery are in the best tradition of British seamanship.
Laurence Naismith as the Titanic’s captain, Frank Lawton as the chairman of the White Star Line who reveals the white feather in the catastrophe, John Merivale as a brave young father who puts his wife and three little children into a boat and any number of others make memorable individuals in small roles. The natural suspense magnetizes them. They hold and catch your interest unremittingly.
“A Night to Remember” conveys this intensely and unforgettably.