The Life and Mystery of First Officer William Murdoch
Titanic In 1912 Newsreels
"Newsreel strands, such as the Gaumont Film Company's Animated Weekly, made up for the lack of footage of the ship itself by splicing in newly shot material of the aftermath of the sinking. These included scenes such as Carpathia arriving at New York, the Titanic survivors disembarking and the crowds gathering outside the White Star Line offices in Brooklyn as lists of the casualties were being posted.
Gaumont's Titanic newsreel was hugely successful and played to packed houses around the world. The first Titanic newsreels appeared in Australia as early as 27 April, while in Germany the Martin Dentler company promised that its Titanic newsreel would "guarantee a full house!". In many places, patrons were handed copies of "Nearer, My God, To Thee" to sing at the close of the film (according to German cinema owner Fred Berger, "much lusty singing took place at [the] screening") while in Britain a family of entertainers used their Gavioli organ to provide the Gaumont newsreel with an accompaniment of nautical tunes. Even though Gaumont was a French company, its Titanic did comparatively poorly in its home country; this was perhaps due to the local news being dominated not by Titanic but by the simultaneous capture of the Bonnot Gang of anarchist bandits.
Some movie companies tried to make up for the lack of footage by passing off film of other liners as being of the Titanic, or marketing the footage of Titanic's launch as showing her sinking. The proprietor of one cinema on New York's 34th Street was beaten up several times by angry customers who fell victim to one such scam. The Dramatic Mirror reported that "both eyes had been blacked and several teeth have been lost, and a blue-black bruise ... now covers almost the entire southern aspect of his face." He was defiant all the same: "Even after I pay the doctor and the dentist I'll clear five hundred dollars. And there isn't an untruthful word in those advertisements. There ain't nobody can say I ain't a gent." In Bayonne, New Jersey, a cinema was the scene of a riot on 26 April 1912 after it falsely advertised a film showing "the sinking of the Titanic and the rescue of her survivors." The New York Evening World reported the following day that the local police had to intervene after "the audience having been led to believe they were to see something sensational, uttered loud protests. Seats were torn loose in one theatre." In the end, the local police chief banned the performance.
Similar public outrage and disorder resulting from a proliferation of fake Titanic disaster reels prompted the mayor of Memphis, Tennessee to ban "any moving picture reels portraying the Titanic disaster or any phase thereof". The mayors of Philadelphia and Boston soon followed suit. However, the Titanic newsreel bubble soon burst, and by August 1912 trade newspapers were reporting that compilations of stock footage of Titanic intercut with pictures of icebergs "don't attract audiences any more."
One of the common frustrations for any researcher is the seeming lack of and/or inaccurate film footage of Titanic and her two sisters Olympic and Britannic. This page is designed to present all known footage for easily identifiable access, with film that has been presented in HD and audio recreated to further enhance the viewing experience. The videos are presented in chronological order as individual newsreels, but can also be viewed as one full length video.
The construction, launch and maiden voyage of RMS Olympic caught the world's attention far more than it's younger sister Titanic did. So it is not surprising that there is more footage of Olympic than there is of Titanic. However, since William Murdoch was aboard Olympic during this time it is most likely that he came in contact with film cameras more than once. There is one piece of evidence that he was filmed, in fact in colour no less. In the book "The Titanic and Silent Cinema" by Stephen Bottomore he quotes a reference to a "Kinemacolor portrait" of Captain Smith:
"This most lifelike Kinemacolor portrait in color-motion-photography shows the hale and hearty septuagenarian surrounded by his chief officers, a remarkable specimen of vigorous old age cornwed with honors. The compact figure and broad shoulders, even the good-humored twinkle in the alert gray eyes, so familiar to thousands of ocean voyages, are reproduced with perfect fidelty."(56.)
If he was surrounded by his "chief officers" then this would almost undoubtedly have included First Officer Murdoch. Of course, this -possibly colour- film has since be lost. However Bottomore also suggests that it may well have been an earlier ship.
The most common error -and seemingly not accidental either- was to describe footage as being of Titanic when in actual fact it was her older sister Olympic. This issue persists until today. Even a casual search on YouTube will show a myriad of results describing Titanic when it is not. That such an error is not accidental can be seen by the fact that the names of the tugs have been removed from the footage so as to conceal its whereabouts and that it is actually Olympic, not Titanic. Bottomore explains these shots of Olympic were "probably filmed in the summer of 1911 in New York. The tugs names have been inked out to suggest that the ship was the Titanic filmed in Britain" (56.)
The other error is to use footage of a ship that is definitely not Titanic or one of her sisters. Refer to the images below. These are frequently used in newsreels and documentaries and yet bare little resemblance to Titanic.
Known Footage of Titanic
Since footage described as Titanic is in fact Olympic (or indeed another ship) where does that leave Titanic? Was she filmed at all. It seems she was in fact filmed, on at least five occasions. According to "The Titanic and Silent Cinema" by Stephen Bottomore these are:
1. Laying the keel of the Titanic (31 March 1909), Animated Weekly. -Lost. 2. Transport of Titanic's Largest Anchor in the World (c.1911). 400ft. -Lost. 3. Launching the Titanic (31 May 1911). Films Limited of Belfast/Animated Weekly/Gaumont. -Lost. 4. Titanic leaving Belfast Loch for Southampton (2 April 1912). Gaumont. -Survives (included below). 5. The Titanic: at Southampton, prior to her maiden voyage (10 April 1912). Filmed by Topical Budget. -Lost (56.)
"Olympic Class" Highlights
1. RMS Olympic, Construction and Launch 1908-1910
Newsreel footage of the construction and launch of R.M.S. Olympic at Harland and Wolff, Belfast, Ireland. Olympic's keel was laid in December 1908 and she was launched on 20 October 1910. The original newsreel was shot on 600 feet of silent, black and white 35mm film by the production company Kineto and had German titles.
0:19 Main Harland and Wolff drawing office, with draughtsmen at work producing drawings and plans for the shipyard. At the rear of the room can be seen a scale builders mode of an Olympic class liner.
0:27 The dry dock where the ship is to be built.
0:44 The laying of the keel and the full length of the ship is revealed.
2:29 Bird's eye view of the hull and interior decks taking shape.
3:33 The huge gantry crane moving a large section of the hull exterior plating and then lowering it into place.
4:08 A piece of the hull plating being guided into position on the side of the ship.
4:55 Exterior plates fixed in place using electric bore and rivet machines.
5:20 Two men hard at work hand riveting.
5:43 A glorious reveal shot of the bow now at full height with a sign "White Star Royal Mail Ship Olympic".
6:02 Steam cranes in action.
6:46 One uncut take lasting, one minute 28 seconds of the launch. The hull was painted in a light grey colour as it made the lines of the ship clearer in the black and white photographs. After the huge hull has slipped into the water, the remaining slipway is revealed and crowds of men who had been watched begin dispersing.
Newsreel footage of the R.M.S. Olympic as it begins its transatlantic crossings in 1911. This reel includes probably the most famous shots incorrectly attributed to Titanic when in actual fact it is Olympic a year earlier, likely filmed during the summer months (Captain Smith is in his summer uniform).
According to The Titanic and Silent Cinema by Stephen Bottomore, the footage of Captain Smith was "probably filmed in the summer of 1911 in New York. The ship's name on the bulkhead has been inked out frame by frame to suggest that this was filmed on the Titanic."(56.)
The reel also included shots of ships that are neither Olympic or Titanic and these have been removed (refer to the subheading "Common Errors" above).
0:32 Captain EJ Smith, in summer uniform, on the starboard wing bridge of the Olympic. The name on the bulkhead has been later inked out frame by frame to suggest it was filmed on Titanic. Smith is noticeably uncomfortable about being filmed and wanders around nervously, smiling at the camera at the end.
1:05 A medium close up of Captain Smith with the bridge and wheel house behind him and to his left is a pedestal for a pelorus, a dial with a sighting device on top enables one to sight an object and determine what angle it is to the bow of the ship.
1:12 A close up of one of Olympic's "loud-speaking navy phones" most likely in the wheel house, used for communicating with the forecastle, crow's nest, engine room and the poop.
1:23 A steering telegraph, likely on the stern bridge.
1:34 A wonderful view of Olympic's port side boat deck, looking forward, with lifeboats in clear view.
1:59 Second class promenade deck, with passengers.
2:17 A view of Olympic's stern area, an area where third class passengers were able to "promenade".
3:19 A view of the rear of Olympic's promenade decks, with passengers.
3:46 Olympic departing from pier 59 in New York with crowds of people watching. Unlike in Southampton, in New York the Olypmpic had to reverse out from the pier.
4:00 Tugs help the Olympic to reverse out into the Hudson River from Pier 59 in New York. The names of the tugs have been inked out to create a deception that these shots are of Titanic.
4:28 A wide shot of Olympic on the Hudson River, ready to depart for England.
3. RMS Titanic in Belfast and Sinking Aftermath 1912
This is the only known footage of RMS Titanic in existence, shown still under construction in Belfast Loch, at the Harland and Wolff shipyard on Saturday the 3rd of February 1912. This was just prior to when the A deck promenade was enclosed (Feb 14th, 1912).
The reel also has shots of the Carpathia, Captain Rostron and relatives and survivors in New York and England.
0:25 There are eight shots of the Titanic moored at at Harland and Wolff shipyard, Belfast. Although titled as "leaving" Belfast on April 2nd 1912, which was the day of her sea trials. This is highly unlikely as she is unpainted in the footage. In fact the footage has been dated to Saturday the 3rd of February 1912. In several of the shots we see men walking beside the ship There is a workman's lavatory which can clearly be seen dangling off the left hand side of the ship.
1:18 The Titanic's name is in black, as is other parts of the ship which ultimately ended up as white. The A-deck promenade windows are also yet to be enclosed. Smoke rises from the Titanic's third funnel.
1:29 Captain Smith on the bridge of RMS Olympic, incorrectly described as being Titanic.
1:37 An actual recording of what Titanic's C.Q.D. distress call would have sounded like if heard over the wireless (thanks to John Dilks, EHTMS)
1:50 Icebergs and ice floes. This is most likely stock footage and not actually from the scene of the disaster, as land or a coastline is visible in the later shots.
2:26 New York American Press Boat, the Mary Scully going out to meet the Carpathia.
2:36 Allegedly the Carpathia nearing New York with the survivors (although it could well have been filmed at a later time as the decks do not look crowded enough and there is no obvious sign of Titanic's lifeboats).
3:37 The Carpathia docked in New York.
4:16 A group of unidentified youngmen standing on quayside, fooling around in front of the camera.
5:35 Carpathia's bridge
6:01 Captain Rostron in uniform walking up to and posing in front of the camera, with a playful wave.
6:34 A more serious Captain Rostron, in civilian clothes.
6:45 Half a dozen men described as "Some survivors of Titanic's crew"- two on the left wear White Star Line emblazoned jumpers.
7:12 Although titled as "Quartermaster Hitchens of the Titanic" talking to a policeman, this older man does not look like the real younger Quartermaster Robert Hichens,
7:20 Allegedly Father Hogue, a passenger of the Carpathia who" first sighted the Titanic lifeboats"
7:33 Some of the crew who wear lifejackets.
7:52 A of group of journalists interviewing survivors.
8:03 Survivor "Rev Stuart Collett" - actually Reverend Sidney Clarence Stuart Collett, aged 25 years old at the time, and rescued in lifeboat no.9.
9:31 Crowds at the White Star offices New York
10:29 Cunard Docks, the morning after the Carpathia's arrival.
10:42 Long-distance radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi and possibly his wife.
11:00 The Mackay Bennet leaving Halifax to retrieve bodies.
12:14 Somber crowds in England waiting for news.
4. HMHS Britannic Launch and Construction 1914
Britannic, launch and construction during 1914 at Harland and Wolff shipyards, Belfast. Britannic was the third and largest of the Olympic-class ships. After the outbreak of World War One, Britannic was requisitioned for use as a hospital ship and was repainted white with a horizontal green stripe and large red crosses and was renamed HMHS (His Majesty's Hospital Ship) Britannic under the command of Captain Charles A. Bartlett. On 21 November 1916 Britannic was on her eighth voyage when she struck a mine off Kea Island and sank in less than an hour. 1,125 crew and medical staff were rescued.
0:32 Launch of Britannic's hull, with people waving from the decks.
1:42 The stern of the Britannic entering the water during the launch
2:13 The base of a funnel being lowered onto the deck with construction workers waiting underneath.
3:12 Foggy harbour and reveal of Britannic under construction
3:31 Britannic's port propeller shaft and blade
4:31 Wide shot of Britannic showing that 3 of the 4 funnels are now in place
4:55 Smoke seen rising from the third funnel indicating the boilers and/or engines are now operational
5:56 The fourth funnel being slowly lifted onto the Britannic in stages by a crane, revealing how large it is
5. Canadian Troops Return Home Aboard Olympic (1919)
Carrying more Canadian soldiers than any other troopship, R.M.S. Olympic was an important part of Canada's war effort. Named "Old Reliable" the Olympic had already made ten round trips from Liverpool to Halifax between March and December 1916, and was able to accommodate nearly 6000 troops.
In May, 1919, as one of the few large liners to survive the war, Olympic was used to transport a large number of Canadian soldiers who, by March 1919, were tired of waiting in poor conditions in England.
In her three-and-one-half years of ferrying troops across the Atlantic she had carried some 72,000 Canadians to war and brought at least 58,000 back home.
The final images in the newsreel show Australian troops celebrating on the dock.
(Information courtesy of David R Gray)
6. RMS Olympic White Star Line Promotional Tour 1920
Simply stunning footage filmed by the White Star Line as a promotional film about RMS Olympic during the early 1920s. We tour the ship in great detail, exploring all its features as she journeys from New York to Southampton over the course of 16 minutes. Originally silent, the audio has been recreated, including the ship's bugler playing the "Roast Beef of Old England" to announce dinner and the Nomadic's whistle.
Please note: Many thanks to Stephen Larkin at White Star Momentos Ltd for permission to use this footage. For commercial usage and all other licensing inquiries please contact Stephen Larkin at White Star Momentos Ltd (www.whitestarmomentos.co.uk).
1:17Olympic moored at Pier 59 in New York
1:23Olympic departing Pier 59 as seen from aboard the ship, with crowds waving.
2:11Olympic's bridge with Captain Hayes using binoculars on the starboard wing.
2:36 Games on the boat deck
3:06 Passengers swimming in the indoor swimming pool
3:22 Squash court
3:43 Gymnasium with boxing, rowing, cycling machines etc
5:26 Reading and writing room
5:49 Bugler playing "Roast Beef of Old england" to announce dinner
6:11 A variety of shots of the kitchens in action
8:51 Passengers eating in the First class dining room
10:11 Cofee in the Palm Court
11:21 Passengers meeting in the Adams Suite sitting room
12:19 Elevators in use
12:43 Grand Stair case
13:22 Smoking room
14:18 The only known footage of the Nomadic in service as an Olympic tender
14:15 A wonderful exterior shot of the Olympic at Southampton.
15:00 A tracking close up of Olympic's port side with passengers aboard
7. Charlie Chaplin Returns Home Aboard Olympic 1921
In September 1921 film star Charlie Chaplin made his first trip back to his native country England (having left in 1912) aboard RMS Olympic. In Southampton he was greeted by the Mayor and representatives of the cinema industry made speechs after which Charlie gave autographs to crowds of admirers.
He then traveled to London via Waterloo station and was met with crowds of hundreds, requiring the efforts of mounted and foot police to guide him to the Ritz Hotel.
8. Prince of Wales Travels Aboard Olympic 1924
Edward, the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII and Duke of Windsor, who later abdicated and married Wallis Simpson) traveled on a tour of the United States in 1924 and returned aboard the Olympic. He is seen shaking hands with Captain Howarth in front of the press and then departing the ship.
9. RMS Olympic Nantucket Collision 1934
On May 15,1934, RMS Olympic, on approach to New York in heavy fog, collided with Nantucket Lightship LV-117 causing it to break apart and sink. There were seven fatalities out of Nantucket's crew of eleven. In this combination of newsreels we see the Olympic arriving in New York City harbor with the city skyline in the background and a close shot of the damaged bow from the collision. On arrival Captain J. W. Binks (Olympic) and Captain George W. Braithwaite (Nantucket) are interviewed along with surviving crew from the Nantucket -First Mate Clifton E. Mosher, John F. Perry, radioman and Laurent U. Roberts, oiler.
Thanks to the Moving Image Research Collection from the University of South Carolina we also have uncut footage which includes Olympic passenger Negley Farson describing the collision in detail. Even more intriguing we have the uncut footage of the press conference with Captain J. W. Binks (Olympic) and Captain George W. Braithwaite (Nantucket). Binks, at first unaware that sound is being recorded, shows concern for Braithwaite being too long infront of the cameras and refuses to allow him to be thanked (indirectly acknowledging that while they acted swiftly they were in fact the cause of the collision). But tellingly he asks Braithwaite to "smile." The two captains briefly compare ages, Braithwaite refuses to discuss the collision on camera and in an interesting twist a reporter calls Binks "Captain Jinks" causing him to swiftly correct him.
The reel finishes with some excellent close ups of the Olympic including a shot filmed under the stern and Captain Binks looking out from the starboard wing cab, which can be seen in clear detail.
All the footage is presented with actual audio recorded at the time of filming.
10. Olympic's Last Voyage 1934-1937
A montage of the last news items about RMS Olympic from 1934 to 1937.
In the first news item, from October 1934, we see Olympic arriving in Southampton being guided by tugs. In her last role captured on film she is seen carrying a US aircraft for the England - Australia Air Race of 1934 (The MacRobertson Trophy Air Race, also known as the London to Melbourne Air Race). A prize fund of $75,000 was put up by Sir Macpherson Robertson, a wealthy Australian confectionery manufacturer. The aircraft shown here is a Granville R-6H 'Q.E.D.' for pilot Miss Jacqueline Cochran, the first woman to compete in the race, who later withdrew with malfunctioning flaps, after landing damage at Bucharest.
In 1934, the White Star Line merged with the Cunard Line at the instigation of the British government, to form Cunard White Star. Olympic was withdrawn from the transatlantic service, and left New York for the last time on 5 April 1935, returning to Britain to be laid up. In a news item on the Mauretania we see a fantastic aerial shot of Olympic as she is laid up out of action, filmed approximated on the 16th of May 1935.
In a news item entitled "Olympic Begins Last Trip", released on the 14th of October 1935, we see shots of her funnel, her deserted decks and he Blue Peter flying. Finally she steams away. Later on the 17th of Oct 1935, another news story headlines that the "Olympic Brings Cheer To Jarrow". It shows shots of Jarrow, a town in north-east England, located on the River Tyne, with a street scene, with houses and people, including a shot of a pawnbrokers. Crowds on the bank of the river Tyne wait as Olympic arrives.
Finally, on the 23rd of September, 1937 we have the last film footage of Olympic. By then the “Thomas Ward & Sons” breakers yards had stripped the ship down to her lower hull section and on September 19, 1937 her hull was towed to Inverkeithing, in Scotland, for final breaking up.
Olympic Class - Full Length Version 1908 -1937
The full version of "Olympic Class - The Story of Olympic, Titanic and Britannic as seen on Film 1908 - 1937". Over an hour of footage presented in chronological order in HD with recreated audio to enhance the viewing experience. See never before seen footage of RMS Olympic, RMS Titanic, HMHS Britannic and SS Nomadic.