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Roy Baker, Director of Understated Precision, Dies

Adam Bernstein

Roy Baker, who died Oct. 5 at 93, was a superb but largely unheralded British director who specialized in crime stories and taut melodramas.

He earned his greatest renown for directing "A Night to Remember" (1958), which remains the best film about the Titanic disaster. It's accent is on the action of the ship's crew instead of James Cameron's visual dazzle.

But I first came to admire Baker -- who later took the name Roy Ward Baker when he began making horror films -- after watching another sea drama, "Morning Departure" (1950). WIth Mr. Baker's trademark no-nonsense style, he told the fictional story of the accidental, peacetime sinking of a submarine and stars John Mills as the stoic skipper and Richard Attenborough as a hysterical young sailor.

For an extended look at Mr. Baker's tradecraft, here's the opening scene of another remarkable story, "The One That Got Away" (1957). An atypical war drama, it starred the riveting Hardy Kruger as a real-life German POW who repeatedly escaped from British camps during World War II. It's very hard to identify with the enemy, but the film managed that just -- an amazing feat a dozen years after the war.

Please share your own memories of watching Mr. Baker's films.

By Adam Bernstein  | October 8, 2010; 11:01 AM ET
Categories:  Adam Bernstein, Movies  
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So, "Understated Precision" is one of Baker's movies?

Posted by: rashomon | October 8, 2010 11:18 PM | Report abuse

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