Saturday, April 14, 2012

S.O.S. Titanic (September 23, 1979)

Today (April 14th, 2012) is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. There has been so much written and on film about the 1912 tragedy that I don't think it's really necessary to go into the details of what happened that night. Instead, this post will detail TV Guides coverage of one of the many, many movies that have been released over the years about the Titanic. The most famous movie on the sinking is, of course, James Cameron's 1997 Academy Award winning blockbuster "Titanic". Among the earlier film versions a couple of the most respected ones were "Titanic" (1955) and "A Night To Remember" (1958)--which was based on Walter Lord's extensively researched and meticulously written book of the same name.

I've decided to focus here on a version that I figured would have received a lot of coverage in TV Guide. It is the film "S.O.S. Titanic" from 1979. The reason I thought there wold be a lot of material about it in TV Guide is that it was a made-for-TV movie. On a personal note, it's very possible that I saw the premiere of this movie on September 23, 1979. It was sometime around 1980 that I first discovered and became interested in the story of the Titanic. I don't know exactly how I was introduced to it, but it could have very well been this movie. I know that not long after this time I read Clive Cussler's book "Raise the Titanic" for the first time and was really hooked. And I also know that I saw "S.O.S. Titanic" when it was replayed on ABC a couple years later.

But now let's look at what was in TV Guide in reference to the debut of "S.O.S. Titanic". Here's the cover of the September 22-28, 1979 issue (the week of the premiere of the movie):

I expected a pretty big write-up in Judith Crist's "This Week's Movies" section. But apparently ABC didn't make the movie available for a preview. Because of that it only got a minor mention in the article. Here it is anyway:

TV Guide also didn't have it's usual "Close-Up" article about the movie--most likely also because of the lack of preview screenings. Here is the listing for 9:00 on Sunday, September 23, 1979 (Page A-50). The description here seems to have benefitted from some sort of a screening though--as it mentions that the movie is "salvaged" by it's "realistic sets and special effects. This would indicate that the person who wrote this had seen the movie--and felt that the acting, writing and/or directing weren't all that great, but the special effects and sets were of good quality.

While there wasn't a whole heck of a lot written about "S.O.S. Titanic" in this issue of TV Guide, ABC did spring for a very nifty ad for the movie that covered the bottom two thirds of a two-page spread on pages A-50 andA-51. Here it is:

I remember liking "S.O.S. Titanic" as a kid, but have not seen it in many years. I'd like to check it out again and see if it lives up to my hazy memory of it--or if there was a glaring reason why it didn't warrant a preview screening and why TV Guide indicated it was mainly worth seeing because of it's sets and special effects.