Ship of Fools (film)
|Ship of Fools|
|Directed by||Stanley Kramer|
|Produced by||Stanley Kramer|
|Written by||Abby Mann
Katherine Anne Porter (novel)
|Music by||Ernest Gold|
|Editing by||Robert C. Jones|
|Distributed by||Columbia Pictures|
|Release date(s)||July 29, 1965|
|Running time||149 minutes|
|Box office||$3,500,000 (rentals)|
Ship of Fools is a 1965 film drama which tells the overlapping stories of several passengers aboard an ocean liner bound to Germany from Mexico in 1933. It stars Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Michael Dunn, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, José Greco and Heinz Rühmann.
It was to be Vivien Leigh's last film and Christiane Schmidtmer's first US production. The Fat Man was portrayed by Henry Calvin, who was known for starring on Walt Disney's television series Zorro as Sergeant Demetrio Lopez Garcia. Lt. Huebner was portrayed by Werner Klemperer, who was best known for his portrayal of Colonel Wilhelm Klink in the 1965-1971 CBS television comedy, Hogan's Heroes.
A pastiche of characters board a German ocean liner in Veracruz, Mexico, for a voyage to Bremerhaven, Germany, along with 600 displaced workers in steerage, being deported from Cuba back to Spain, and a not-so-exotic band of entertainers, for whom the voyage is just a job. Some are happy to be bound for a rising Nazi Germany, some are apprehensive, while others appear oblivious to its potential dangers.
The ship's doctor, Schumann (with dueling scar), takes a special interest in La Condesa, a countess from Spain who has an addiction to drugs and is being shipped to a German-run prison. Her sense of certain doom is contrasted by the doctor's determination to fight the forces of oppression, embodied by his insistence that the people in steerage be treated like human beings rather than animals. The doctor himself has a secret, a terminal heart condition, and his sympathy for the countess soon evolves into love.
Several passengers are invited to dine each night at the captain's table. There, some are amused and others offended by the Anti-Semitic rants of a German businessman named Rieber (José Ferrer). The Jewish Lowenthal is invited instead to join a dwarf named Glocken for his meals, and the two bond over their exclusion. Eventually a passenger named Freytag seems shocked to find himself ostracized when Rieber learns that his wife is Jewish.
Others aboard include a young American couple, David and Jenny, who bicker because David is unhappy at his lack of success with painting. A divorcée, Mary Treadwell, drinks and flirts, on a quest to recapture her youth in Paris. Bill Tenny is a former baseball player disappointed in the way his career never quite took off. They are distracted by the music and the professional dancers, whose flirtations seem to skirt the edges of solicitation, or dive right in to the seedy side of oblivion.
And when the passengers disembark, two are no longer with them -- the countess, who has been taken to an island prison, and the doctor, who has died.
- Vivien Leigh ... Mary Treadwell
- Simone Signoret ... La Condesa
- José Ferrer ... Siegfried Rieber
- Lee Marvin ... Bill Denny
- Oskar Werner ... Dr. Wilhelm "Willi" Schumann
- Elizabeth Ashley ... Jenny Brown
- George Segal ... David
- José Greco ... Pepe
- Michael Dunn ... Carl Glocken
- Charles Korvin ... Capt. Thiele
- Heinz Rühmann (credited as "Heinz Ruehmann") ... Julius Lowenthal
- Lilia Skala ... Frau Hutten
- Barbara Luna ... Amparo
- Christiane Schmidtmer ... Lizzi Spokenkieker
- Alf Kjellin ... Freytag
- Werner Klemperer ... Lt. Huebner
- John Wengraf ... Graf
- Olga Fabian ... Frau Schmitt
- Gila Golan ... Elsa
- Oscar Beregi ... Lutz
- Stanley Adams ... Hutten
- Karen Verne ... Frau Lutz
- Charles de Vries ... Johann
- Lydia Torea ... Pastora
- Henry Calvin ... Fat Man
The film won Academy Awards for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White (Robert Clatworthy, Joseph Kish) and Best Cinematography, Black-and-White. It was nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role (Oskar Werner), Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Dunn), Best Actress in a Leading Role (Simone Signoret), Best Costume Design, Black-and-White, Best Picture and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium.
The film has been broadcast on TV many times over the years, as well as released to VHS, laserdisc, and DVD. The film's standalone DVD release is an open-matte pan-and-scan 1.33:1 transfer with no supplements. This release is currently out of print. The film was later reissued in widescreen with supplements in a Stanley Kramer box set from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment with The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, The Wild One, The Member of the Wedding, and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner. Currently, the film is also available in a budget-priced 2-disc 4-movie collection DVD licensed from Sony to Mill Creek Entertainment that also includes Bobby Deerfield, Baby the Rain Must Fall, and The Chase. All four films are presented in their original theatrical aspect ratios and are anamorphically enhanced. The film has been released on Blu ray in a double feature pack with the film Lilith via Mill Creek.
- Ship of Fools at the Internet Movie Database
- Ship of Fools at Rotten Tomatoes
- Complete original soundtrack by Ernest Gold released by the "Monstrous Movie Music" label (sound samples available)