Forty years before James Cameron’s Titanic, the doomed liner’s tragic sinking was brought to life in 1958’s A Night to Remember. The production was chiefly a British affair, mostly filmed on location at Pinewood Studios outside London (now the famous home of the James Bond movies) and starred acclaimed English stage actor Kenneth More as the Second Officer, Charles Herbert Lightoller—the most senior member of the Titanic’s crew to survive the disaster.
Despite being a hit with the critics and winning a Golden Globe for Best Picture, A Night to Remember floundered at the US box office and struggled to make back its massive production budget. No expense had been spared at all during production—especially when it came to recreating the ship’s sinking, as its star Kenneth More was only too keen to explain.
Finding that there wasn’t a tank large enough at Pinewood to film the actual sinking of the Titanic, the production briefly relocated to a massive outdoor lido in Ruislip, London, in the winter of 1957–58. That meant that a memorable scene in which numerous survivors struggle to climb into lifeboats had to be filmed outdoors, on a nearly frozen lake, at 2 a.m. in the depths of winter.
Noticing that his fellow cast members and extras weren’t particularly keen to jump into an icy lake, More took control, and—as he later wrote in his autobiography—jumped into the lido with a rousing call of “Come on!”
“Never have I experienced such cold in all my life,” he recalled. “It was like jumping into a deep freeze. The shock forced the breath out of my body. My heart seemed to stop beating. I felt crushed, unable to think. I had rigor mortis, without the mortis. And then I surfaced, spat out the dirty water and, gasping for breath, found my voice. ‘Stop!’ I shouted. ‘Don’t listen to me! It’s bloody awful! Stay where you are!’