50 ways to drown a movie star
Tuesday 24 March 1998
When Kate Winslet swore she would never again work with water after almost freezing to death during the filming of Titanic, rumours spread that the film was going to sink as fast as the ship itself. In the end, as we all now know, the sight of Kate and co-star Leonardo DiCaprio clinging to the rigging in Titanic has proved irresistible.
Those who have been left with a taste for ship-flicks after watching Titanic - the wet T-shirts, the watery graves, the seaweed - can be assured that there are plenty more out there.
The 1912 sinking of the unsinkable inspired film-makers long before James Cameron thought of plunging Kate and Leo into the briny. The 1953 version of Titanic, filmed in a studio rather than on the ocean, won an Academy Award for Best Story and Screenplay.
The cult classic The Poseidon Adventure received eight nominations in 1972. The film included plenty of delicious scenes in which fat ladies jumped over impossibly large caverns and wimpy men drowned as they refused to follow Gene Hackman as the Reverend Frank Scott to safety. Shelley Winters was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for her part in the film, which inspired the risible 1979 Beyond the Poseidon Adventure, starring, to their shame, Telly Savalas and Michael Caine.
After Titanic, with 14 Oscar nominations, comes the 1965 Ship of Fools. Eight nominations earned the film two Oscars; for Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. The passengers, who include Vivien Leigh and Lee Marvin, leave New York in 1933 on a German liner bound for Europe.
Mutiny on the Bounty appears twice on the list of top 10 maritime movies, the 1935 version just beating the 1962 remake eight to seven. The first Mutiny won Best Picture Award. The remake was memorable principally for Marlon Brando's British accent.
Steven Spielberg's 1975 classic Jaws won John Williams II Best Music and Best Original Score Oscars for the spine-chilling "Duh-Der-Duh-Der" music, which had children round the world hiding behind their popcorn. Jaws won four Oscars and a nomination for Best Picture. Jaws 2, 1978, Jaws 3-D, 1983, and Jaws The Revenge, 1978, were less memorable, despite the 3-D effects.
Other duff sequels include Speed 2: Cruise Control, the 1997 follow-up to the land-locked Speed. The 1980 Raise the Titanic! was deemed so awful that it effectively ended Lew Grade's ambitions to be a film maker of note. The film, which cost $40m, made just $7m back.
The Cruel Sea, perhaps the best ship-flick never to win an Oscar, received just one Academy Award nomination in 1954: Eric Ambler, for Best Writing. it was set at the start of the second World War, with the inexperienced officers and men of the HMS Compass battling with U-Boats in icy seas.
The Fifties were perhaps the high point for boat sagas. Humphrey Bogart won Best Actor for his portrayal of Charlie Allnutt in The African Queen. Co-star Katharine Hepburn received a Best Actress nomination for her part in the 1951 classic, which was set in East Africa in 1915. The film also received nominations for Best Director and Best Writing. Show Boat (1951), Moby Dick (1956), An Affair to Remember (1957) and The Old Man and the Sea (1958) all saw their launch in the seafaring Fifties.
Ship-flicks have been known to sink, however. Before Titanic, Waterworld, (1995) was the most expensive maritime movie of all - and possibly the worst. Memorable for a scene in which Kevin Costner recycled his own wee, the 1995 Waterworld received nothing but a nomination for Best Sound at the Academy Awards. The film, which cost $200m to make, made $88m at the US box office.
Other Nineties ship-flicks include Sean Connery in The Hunt For Red October, 1990, and Denzel Washington as first officer to Gene Hackman's skipper arguing over whether to fire the missiles in the 1995 Crimson Tide.
Last in the convoy, but definitely not least, the supremacy of Titanic should not overshadow this year's other ship-flick: Spielberg's Amistad, recipient of four Oscar nominations.
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