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CRUISE SHIPS IN THE MOVIES – THE GREAT FILM DODSWORTH AND THE FABULOUS LINER REX

CRUISE SHIPS IN THE MOVIES – THE GREAT FILM DODSWORTH AND THE FABULOUS LINER REX…

Dodsworth features much social history and includes scenes aboard the wonderful Italian liner the REX.  Dodsworth is one of the great classic American films.   Our first story on ocean liners in the movies features the Italian Line’s fabulous liner – THE REX.  Dodsworth also used Cunard Line’s RMS Queen Mary.

Mr. and Mrs. Dodsworth (John Huston and Ruth Chatterton) are over dressed the first night out aboard the RMS Queen Mary from New York to Southampton.

Ruth Chatterton and David Niven dance the night away aboard the RMS Queen Mary.

The Italian Line’s SS Rex, launched in 1931, held the westbound Blue Riband between 1933 and 1935. The ship was elegant and had beautiful public rooms. It was considered one of the most beautiful liners in the world. The video chronicles the life and death of this great liner. The Rex operated transatlantic crossings from Italy with its running mate, the Conte di Savoia.

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THE REX

(Left: Grand stairway on the REX)

On 8 September 1944, off Koper, Rex was hit by 123 rockets launched by RAF aircraft, caught fire from stem to stern, rolled onto the port side, and sank in shallow water. The ship was broken up at the site beginning in 1947.

The Italian passenger liner Rex was a product of Navigazione Generale Italiana. It was ordered from the Ansaldo Shipyards in Genoa.

The Italian King Victor Emmanuel III and Queen Elena attended the naming and launch of the Rex, on August 1, 1931.

On September 27, 1932, the Rex departed on her maiden voyage from Genoa. However, while approaching Gibraltar, she had some serious engine problems. The Rex eventually continued on her maiden voyage, but not without further engine problems. In New York, her maiden eastbound sailing was canceled, and she was forced to wait for parts brought in on subsequent inbound Italian liners.

In August 1933, the Rex captured the Blue Riband with an average speed of 28.92 knots. Her record crossing would hold until the Normandie won the Riband in May 1935.

After September 9, 1939, when World War II began, Rex, along one of the last foreign-flag ships still in service. Service ended in the spring of 1940.

The Rex was laid up at Bari, on the Adriatic coast.

Later, following a change of plan, she was towed to Trieste, never to sail again.

Reports hinted that the Rex would be converted to an aircraft carrier, a troop ship, or as a blockade at the harbor of Venice. But nothing came to pass.

On September 8, 1944, the Rex, anchored off Trieste (between Izola and Koper, now Slovenia), was sighted by Royal Air Force bombers, and was hit by 123 rockets. She burst into flames her entire length, and on the following day, capsized and sank in the shallow waters that she was anchored in.

After the war, studies were made in hopes of salvaging the Rex, but she was beyond economic repair, and declared a total loss. She was scrapped, beginning in 1947, and the work was completed by June 1958.

The Rex has also been remembered in film, making two notable cameo appearances, the first during the climax of Dodsworth, the 1936 drama directed by William Wyler, the second in Amarcord (1973), directed by Federico Fellini, in which the citizens of Rimini celebrate as the liner sails past on her maiden voyage.

Dodsworth is featured on Turner Classic Movies – watch for it.

SAMUEL GOLDWYN’S PRODUCTION OF DODSWORTH BASED ON THE NOVEL BY SINCLAIR LEWIS

Dodsworth is a 1936 American film classic directed by William Wyler. Sidney Howard based the screenplay on his 1934 stage adaptation of the 1929 novel by Sinclair Lewis. Through the title character, it examines the differences between US and European intellect, manners, and morals.

Middle-aged Sam Dodsworth is the head of Revelation Motor Company, an automobile manufacturing firm. His wife Fran, a shallow and vain woman obsessed with the notion of growing old, convinces her spouse Sam to sell his interest in the company and take her to Europe. Before long, Fran begins to view herself as a sophisticated world traveler and Sam as boring and unimaginative. Searching for excitement in her life, she begins spending time with other men and eventually informs Sam that she’s leaving him for a member of the nobility. While in Italy, Sam reunites with Edith Cortright, a divorcee he first met aboard a liner en route to Europe, and the two fall in love. When Fran’s plans to marry the nobleman fall through and she calls off the divorce, Sam rejoins her on a ship to sail back to America but in the climactic scene, Sam realizes his marriage to Fran is over and gets off the ship at the last moment to rejoin Edith after he realizes just how much he cares for her.

Some notes on the film state that the ship used en-route to Europe was the Queen Mary – but the decor matches the grandeur of the Normandie.   But the Rex is definitely the liner used at the end of the film.  This is where Dodsworth leaves his wife.

Coming – Matson Line’s SS LURLINE – as seen in FROM HERE TO ETERNITY.

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