Kraft Television Theatre’s “A Night to Remember”

All but forgotten in the hoopla surrounding the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic is the Kraft Television Theatre adaptation of Walter Lord’s A Night to Remember (published in 1955), which was broadcast live on Wednesday, March 28th, 1956. Broadcasting*Telecasting reported that the production would feature a cast of 107 (with 72 speaking parts) and 31 sets [1]. Claude Raines would server as narrator. An Associated Press article explained that production had to be moved from NBC’s faciltiies in Manhattan to a larger studio in Brooklyn due to the 3,000 gallons of water and two massive tanks needed to recreate the sinking [2]. Set designer Duane McKinney was concerned that wooden scenery would be warped and potentially unusable, as in the case of doors, having been submerged in water for days. But the broadcast was a success, both critically and with viewers.

Jack Gould of The New York Times called it “technically brilliant,” “an exan extraordinary demonstration of staging technique that imparted a magnificent sense of physical dimension to the home screen” [3]. He lauding the emotion and tension while criticizing the intrusion of commercial breaks. Gould’s only criticism of the production itself was the actual sinking of the Titanic but insisted it was a “very minor reservation” and summed up the show as “a triumph of organization in the dramatic art.”

A review in Broadcasting*Telecasting praised the production’s ability to retell the story of the Titanic without being too dry and historical or too fictionalized, noting that “in telecasting the tragic story of the Titanic with its unspoken but effectively delievered moral of the inevitable results of cocksure complaceny, Kraft’s ‘A Night to Remember’ gave every viewer a program to remember for a long time to come” [4]. According to the same review, production costs were approximately $85,000 (it also stated there were 127 castmembers rather than 107).

“A Night to Remember” received a Trendex rating of 27.7; for the 9-9:30PM the program drew a 28.2 rating [5]. In mid-April, The Billboard reported that Kraft was in negotiations to repeat the program, needing to secure rights from Walter Lord [6]. The repeat, from a kinescope recording of the original live broadcast, was eventually scheduled for Wednesday, May 2nd.

In 1958, a feature film adaptation of Lord’s book starring Kenneth More was released, greatly overshadowing the Kraft Television Theatre production. Although the 1958 film has been released on VHS, DVD and Blu-ray, the television version has never been commercially released on any format. The Paley Center for Media, UCLA’s Film & Television Archive, The Library of Congress and The Museum of Broadcast Communications all have the episode in their collections. The Museum of Broadcast Communications even has it available for viewing online (just log in to the Archives, select TV, and search for “night to remember” under episode title).

Works Cited:

1 “Titanic TV.” Broadcasting*Telecsating. 26 Mar. 1956: 95.
2 Mercer, Charles. “TV Show to Recall Sinking of Titanic.” Associated Press. The Miami News. 27 Mar. 1956: 8B.
3 Gould, Jack. “TV: Last Hours of Titanic.” New York Times. 29 Mar. 1956: 55.
4 “In Review: A Night to Remember.” Broadcasting*Telecasting. 2 Apr. 1956: 12.
5 “Kraft’s Night to Remember.” Billboard. 7 Apr. 1956: 4.
6 “Repeat Talked for ‘Titanic’.” Billboard. 14 Apr. 1956: 3.

1 Comment

  • ejp says:

    It was an impressive production (and poor quality “bootlegs” have circulated for years). On many levels it was even more accurate to the book than the excellent film turned out to be.

    Playing the part of Titanic’s builder, Thomas Andrews, was Patrick MacNee who went on to appear in another Titanic-centered TV episode on “One Step Beyond” in early 1959, “Night Of April The 14th”.

Leave a Comment

4w1sxq_posts.post_date DESC 53 | 0.0021 | enabled | not cached | 12300 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (12076,7849,7563,7544,7472,7533,1079,1096,687,1073,1075,1063,1086,1077,1068) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 54 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 7811 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND t.term_id IN ( 314,96,113,62,832,734,306,380,381,414,17,401,555,397,732,733 ) ORDER BY t.name ASC 55 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 3475 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'category' AND t.term_id = 5 LIMIT 1 56 | 0.0009 | enabled | not cached | 760 | SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (8388) ORDER BY t.name ASC 57 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 3708 | SELECT * FROM wp_4w1sxq_users WHERE ID = '5' 58 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 8980 | SELECT user_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_usermeta WHERE user_id IN (5) ORDER BY umeta_id ASC 59 | 0.0028 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | show tables 60 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 552 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_options WHERE option_name = 'yarpp_fulltext_disabled' LIMIT 1 61 | 0.0007 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SHOW INDEX FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE Key_name = 'yarpp_title' OR Key_name = 'yarpp_content' 62 | 0.0321 | enabled | not cached | 563 | select max(ID) as max_id from wp_4w1sxq_yarpp_related_cache where reference_ID = 8388 63 | 0.008 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT SQL_CALC_FOUND_ROWS wp_4w1sxq_posts.*, yarpp.score FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts join wp_4w1sxq_yarpp_related_cache as yarpp on wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID = yarpp.ID WHERE 1=1 AND yarpp.score >= 4 and yarpp.reference_ID = 8388 AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_type IN ('post', 'page', 'attachment') ORDER BY yarpp.score DESC limit 5 64 | 0.0005 | disabled (query) | not cached | 0 | SELECT FOUND_ROWS() 65 | 0.0063 | enabled | not cached | 6464 | SELECT t.*, tt.*, tr.object_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category', 'post_tag', 'post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (2550, 8558, 13944, 13762, 5636) ORDER BY t.name ASC 66 | 0.0213 | enabled | not cached | 3637 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (2550,8558,13944,13762,5636) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 67 | 0.0107 | enabled | not cached | 6083 | SELECT * FROM wp_4w1sxq_comments WHERE ( comment_approved = '1' ) AND comment_post_ID = 8388 ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_comments.comment_date_gmt ASC, wp_4w1sxq_comments.comment_ID ASC 68 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 3476 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'nav_menu' AND t.term_id = 831 LIMIT 1 69 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 820 | SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('831') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC 70 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 10261 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID IN (17051,17052,17989) AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_posts.menu_order ASC 71 | 0.0009 | enabled | not cached | 4075 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (17052,17051,17989) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 72 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 4078 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND t.term_id IN ( 729,41,845 ) ORDER BY t.name ASC 73 | 0.0004 | enabled | cached | 760 | SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (8388) ORDER BY t.name ASC 74 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 3495 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'nav_menu' AND t.term_id = 742 LIMIT 1 75 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 1024 | SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('742') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC 76 | 0.0009 | enabled | not cached | 13515 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID IN (16521,16522,16523,16524,16525,17305,17306) AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_posts.menu_order ASC 77 | 0.0012 | enabled | not cached | 7954 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (16521,16522,16523,16524,17305,17306,16525) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 78 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 5202 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND t.term_id IN ( 314,96,113,62,832,734,306 ) ORDER BY t.name ASC 79 | 0.0004 | enabled | cached | 760 | SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (8388) ORDER BY t.name ASC 80 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 862 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_type = 'post' AND ((wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_date DESC LIMIT 0, 5 81 | 0.0019 | enabled | not cached | 80279 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE ID IN (19567,19605,19587,19545,19505) 82 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 9155 | SELECT t.*, tt.*, tr.object_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category', 'post_tag', 'post_format') AND tr.object_id IN (19505, 19545, 19567, 19587, 19605) ORDER BY t.name ASC 83 | 0.0008 | enabled | not cached | 4273 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (19505,19545,19567,19587,19605) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 84 | 0.0012 | enabled | not cached | 35463 | SELECT * FROM wp_4w1sxq_comments JOIN wp_4w1sxq_posts ON wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID = wp_4w1sxq_comments.comment_post_ID WHERE ( comment_approved = '1' ) AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_status IN ('publish') ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_comments.comment_date_gmt DESC LIMIT 5 85 | 0.0012 | enabled | not cached | 18223 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE ID IN (18069,9405,16541) 86 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 3486 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy = 'nav_menu' AND t.term_id = 835 LIMIT 1 87 | 0.0006 | enabled | not cached | 1440 | SELECT tr.object_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('nav_menu') AND tt.term_id IN ('835') ORDER BY tr.object_id ASC 88 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 20162 | SELECT wp_4w1sxq_posts.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE 1=1 AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.ID IN (17261,17262,17265,17266,17267,17270,17271,17272,17275,17276,17278,17280,17282,17283,17286) AND wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_type = 'nav_menu_item' AND ((wp_4w1sxq_posts.post_status = 'publish')) ORDER BY wp_4w1sxq_posts.menu_order ASC 89 | 0.0022 | enabled | not cached | 15732 | SELECT post_id, meta_key, meta_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_postmeta WHERE post_id IN (17261,17262,17265,17266,17267,17270,17271,17272,17275,17276,17278,17280,17282,17283,17286) ORDER BY meta_id ASC 90 | 0.0011 | enabled | not cached | 7428 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND t.term_id IN ( 671,42,8,263,608,760,150,368,307,18,7,703,212,38,691 ) ORDER BY t.name ASC 91 | 0.0003 | enabled | cached | 760 | SELECT t.term_id FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON tt.term_id = t.term_id INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_relationships AS tr ON tr.term_taxonomy_id = tt.term_taxonomy_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('category') AND tr.object_id IN (8388) ORDER BY t.name ASC 92 | 0.0014 | enabled | not cached | 7914 | SELECT YEAR(post_date) AS `year`, MONTH(post_date) AS `month`, count(ID) as posts FROM wp_4w1sxq_posts WHERE post_type = 'post' AND post_status = 'publish' GROUP BY YEAR(post_date), MONTH(post_date) ORDER BY post_date DESC 93 | 0.0038 | enabled | not cached | 15227 | SELECT t.*, tt.* FROM wp_4w1sxq_terms AS t INNER JOIN wp_4w1sxq_term_taxonomy AS tt ON t.term_id = tt.term_id WHERE tt.taxonomy IN ('post_tag') AND tt.count > 0 ORDER BY tt.count DESC LIMIT 45 94 | 0.0009 | enabled | not cached | 636 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_timeout_simplecatch_footercontent' LIMIT 1 95 | 0.0007 | enabled | not cached | 811 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_simplecatch_footercontent' LIMIT 1 96 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 633 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_timeout_simplecatch_footercode' LIMIT 1 97 | 0.0005 | enabled | not cached | 613 | SELECT option_value FROM wp_4w1sxq_options WHERE option_name = '_transient_simplecatch_footercode' LIMIT 1 -->