Ship of Fools


Drama / Romance / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 81%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 80%
IMDb Rating 7.2 10 4,600


Downloaded 11,681 times
April 12, 2019



George Segal as Felix
José Ferrer as Inspector Branco
Lee Marvin as Sgt. Lloyd Carracart
Vivien Leigh as Myra
2.16 GB
23.976 fps
149 min
P/S N/A / N/A

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by kijii 8 / 10 / 10

A tapestry of several characters on an ocean voyage

The movie, based on Anne Porter's book, presents a tapestry of several characters on an ocean voyage. Their vessel is a German luxury linear sailing from Veracurz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany in 1933. All of the crew and most of the passenger on the ship are German, but there are also Spanish , Mexican, and American passengers too. The prologue and epilogue of the movie are presented by on of the passengers, a dwarf, Carl Glocken (Michael Dunn). In the prologue, Glocken looks into the camera and tells the audience: "My name is Carl Glocken and this is a ship of fools. I'm a fool. You'll meet more fools as we go along. This tub is packed with them. Emancipated ladies, ball players, lovers, dog lovers, ladies of joy, tolerant Jews..dwarfs..all kinds. And, who knows? If you look closely enough, you may find yourself on board." As the ship embarks, the ship's captain (Charles Korvin) asks the ship's doctor (Oskar Werner), to take his place at the captain's table the first night since he has seen the passengers, and he tires of such people. The most obnoxious guest at the captain's table is Rieber (Jose Ferrer), who speaks loudly of racial purity and society ridding itself of undesirables, while extolling the glorious future of Germany. Though the guests at the table tolerant his speech, most seem mildly annoyed by it. Noticeably absent from the captain's table is an elderly Jewish man, Lowenthal (Heinz Ruehmann) and the dwarf, Glocken. (These two are forced to sit at a side table.) One of the great satirical paradoxes that the movie creates is making Lowenthal and Rieber cabin mates. While Lowenthal is good-spirited about the situation, his snoring only further aggravates Rieber's disgust. Soon after the voyage begins, the ship stops to take on a large group of revolutionary Mexican peasants who are immediately placed in steerage and hosed down like a heard of cattle. At the same time, La Condesa (Simon Signoret) comes aboard as a political prisoner. Other characters on the ship include: an aging American divorcée , Mary Treadwell (Vivien Leigh); a washed up baseball player, Tenny (Lee Marvin); and two American lovers, Jenny and David (Elizabeth Ashley and George Segal). There is also a troop of Spaniards—headed by Pepe (Jose Greco). While on stage, these Spaniards seem to entertain the other passengers as flamenco dancers and musicians; while off stage, they become pimps and prostitutes. (The relationship between the Spaniards and the Germans seems like one between sycophants and masters and may foreshadow the relationship between Franco's Spain and Hitler's Germany later in the 1930s). The four Americans don't escape satire either: they all are self- absorbed, hedonistic, and superficial. At one time, Tenny tells Glocken that the outside curve ball ended his baseball career and "ruined his life." Glocken retorts that it is hard to imagine that anything that 99% of the world's population had never even heard of could ruin anyone's life!! Another vignette in the movie shows a Mexican peasant drown after jumping overboard to save one of the German passenger's dog. Both the characters and their situations vary from sad, to silly, to absurd. The worst developed relationship in the movie is between La Condesa and the ship's doctor. The ship's doctor " a bad heart" and is running away from the responsibilities of his wife and family. He tries to help La Condesa free herself from drug addition, but later learns how much more valuable and responsible her life has been than his. The most sadly prophetic conversation in the movie is between Glocken (the dwarf) and Lowenthal (the good natured Jew). After referring to Bach and Beethoven, Lowenthal claims to be more of a German than a Jew. "After all," he says, "There are a million Jews in Germany. What are they going to do—kill us all? While disembarking from the ship in Bremerhaven, Glocken looks into the camera again and delivers the movie's epilogue to the audience: "Oh, I just hear you say, what does this have to do with us?" "Nothing."(chuckles sarcastically).

Reviewed by William Reid 7 / 10 / 10

"Welcome Aboard! It's Love!"

Like the song says, "Love! Exciting and new!". Not so fast! Screenwriter Abby Mann wants to take you on a different voyage where everything including love is painfully and excessively ironic. Oh, also it's a German cruise ship and it's 1933. Surprise! Made in 1965 and filmed in black and white (which won artistic points with critics and the academy), this is a stunning cast of actors including Vivian Leigh (brilliant as usual in her last film role before succumbing to mental illness), George Segal, Lee Marvin, Jose Ferrer and Michael Dunn. It's enough to kindle interest in the story line but somewhere along the way the movie loses it's pacing and "drowns" (see what I did there) in a long and melodramatic soap opera where the characters, introduced as nuanced and thoughtful, degrade into dumb downed maladaptive stereotypes that give in to "overboard" (did it again) dramatics. The result is a feeling of being trapped on a... well, a cruise ship with awful people. Bon voyage!

Reviewed by MisterWhiplash 7 / 10 / 10

of Germans and Spanish and some Americans in 1933, Kramer style

Stanley Kramer was never really known for his subtlety, which is why it's good to say that in the case of Ship of Fools he did cast a few people to try and convey some moments and emotions that weren't as big and decidedly un-subtle as in Judgment at Nuremburg or Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. I'm not saying that being brash and overly dramatic with the story's message is necessarily a bad thing in and of itself, and with Nuremburg it worked (in Dinner it just didn't for me). But with Ship of Fools what works is that it's like changing the channels between about seven or eight channels with each one having different characters in the same time period, so if one channel starts to drag a little it can flip to another and it might be more interesting or compelling. The film doesn't have a strong story, which is both to its benefit and detriment. If there was something that was at the core that this was all working or building towards (I'm not saying it needed an iceberg or some contrivance, just some goal or spine), then you could follow these characters with this or that. But it's all about just the context of the people on the boat and the time period: 1933 on a ship going from Mexico to Europe, transporting Spaniards who were working in Mexico and now returning home, and mostly Germans and some Americans (i.e. Lee Marvin) and there is the whole 'upstairs downstairs' aspect. The white people, mostly, get the better level while the Spanish don't, but they end up mingling together for various reasons, such as there's a dancing scene at dinner one night that really is mind-blowing and the most entertaining part of the film, and there's a woman who becomes kind of a prostitute on the ship. There's a wide array of Characters with a capital C, and some of them really *mean* things while others maybe not so much. Vivien Leigh is the (just slightly) older woman who was once probably to die for and now time has sort of passed her by from her jazz days; the Southern boozer (Marvin) who doesn't get why Jews are put down by the Germans but can't help but drop n****er a few times without even seeming to notice; Oskar Werner is a doctor who becomes a sort of friend to Simone Signoret (I say sort of since it unfolds into what may be a romance for him, and for her is more mysterious); and George Segal is an artist who can't seem to really make a living at that job since he works for money elsewhere, and Elizabeth Ashley as his flustered would-be lover. I may have neglected to mention some of the German characters, of which there are many, including a dwarf, one of the more interesting people in the movie who sort of opens the film with a 4th-wall breaking moment (not really to repeat itself, and I wish either Kramer had more of it or dropped it altogether as it's unnecessary). The main message is pretty clear: when you throw together this group of people, especially when it's Germans in 1933 right as Hitler is going to take power in the election and it's the sort of thing that, as one character says, "Hey, I'm not anti-semetic" (as if saying "I'm not racist, which usually means someone is) and in the midst of these fellow Germans and others adrift in life or, of course, the Spaniards, you get some mixed emotions and high tension and passions. But I think that because of the lack of some core story or something to work towards it's just a character portrait. That would be fine, to be sure, and at times watching this I wondered what Robert Altman would've made of the novel (probably a lot more, I'd wager). Some scenes really do stand out, such as the man who cries out against some of the Germans due to his wife being Jewish (though the scene that really works with him is a little later, when he admits to the one apologetic older German lady that he and his wife separated), and of course people like Werner and Signoret are perfect together. Marvin I liked a lot as well, though it's more his screen presence to bring something else to the character. Leigh and Segall are fine, but also with characters that, again, have a lot of screen time but not too much depth otherwise. The film is photographed beautifully (it won an Oscar subsequently), and many moments of dialog are enjoyable and fun and sincere enough to not be taken melodramatically, but it's a thing of the 'parts more than the whole'. In other words, it's like the more serious, slightly shorter and less ambitious (in terms of cinematic scope) version of Kramer's own It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World. Worth watching, especially if you like the actors, but not essential.

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