Another nice moment is when Barbara Stanwyck reads the poem 'When I Was One-and-Twenty" by A.E. Housman to a young man played by Robert Wagner. Unfortunately, Wagner's character isn't all that likeable. He has a few comments to Stanwyck's daughter (Audrey Dalton) that may make you smile, such as "Never heard it before? Where have you been, locked up in some art gallery? Why, that's the hottest jig the kids do." However, he also has some musical performances between the 60 and 70 minute points of the film (pre-iceberg) that don't have the intended endearing effect, including a cringe-inducing performance of the "Navajo Rag", about how they dance down on the ol' reservation.
Richard Basehart is strong in his supporting role of priest who we find out has been defrocked because of his drinking, and his scene with Stanwyck on the deck at night, each lost in their own troubles, is a good one. However, the performance seems a bit wasted, as there's nowhere for the character to go, and the film ends up choosing a path high in schmaltz.
Unenviable comparisons to other Titanic movies aside (in particular Cameron's), the film fails most post-iceberg. Some of the right elements are there, including the hubris of a foolhardy increase in speed in order to impress the world in the first place, and the lack of enough lifeboats. The special effects are relatively brief but reasonably good for the time period. And of course, the moment is poignant, being a true story, and fate being so arbitrary. Stanwyck is said to have cried on set imagining the horror.
Perhaps one of the ways people have of coping with this is to create heroic characters. In this version, it just gets to be a little much, and the stories between Webb and Stanwyck, their little boy, Basehart, and Wagner all seem false. Similar accusations are leveled at other movies that I sometimes find myself defending, but I can't in this case, or at least, as much. It's an average movie, certainly watchable, but dated and without balance in the fictional part of its story.