Ship of Fools (1965)

Ship of Fools (1965)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Ship of Fools Photos

Movie Info

The first person the audience sees in Ship of Fools is dwarf Michael Dunn, who speaks to viewers directly and acts as a Greek chorus throughout the film. It begins on the deck of an ocean liner travelling from Vera Cruz to Bremerhaven. The time is the 1930s, so close and yet so far from war. The cross-section of humanity on board includes ship's doctor Oscar Werner, Spanish political activist Simone Signoret, aging coquette Vivien Leigh, hedonistic baseball player Lee Marvin, philosophical Jew Heinz Ruhmann, a smattering of pro- and anti-Hitlerites (Jose Ferrer plays the nastiest and most vocal "pro") and young lovers George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley. Yes, it's Grand Hotel at sea, a feast for stargazers and an endurance test for those who aren't comfortable with non-stop speechmaking. Despite such lines as "What can the Nazis do? Kill all six million of us?," Ship of Fools manages to stay afloat throughout its 148 minutes. Michael Dunn was nominated for an Academy Award for his interlocutory characterization; the rest of the performances range from brilliant to merely filling up the room. Other Oscars were presented to cinematographer Ernest Lazslo and to the art-direction staff. Ship of Fools was adapted by Abby Mann from the novel by Katharine Ann Porter.
Classics , Documentary , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Columbia Pictures

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Simone Signoret
as La Condesa
Oskar Werner
as Dr. Schumann
Vivien Leigh
as Mary Treadwell
Lee Marvin
as Tenny
José Ferrer
as Rieber
Jose Greco
as Pepe
Charles Korvin
as Capt. Thiele
Heinz Rühmann
as Lowenthal
Lilia Skala
as Frau Hutten
Barbara Luna
as Amparo
Alf Kjellin
as Freytag
Werner Klemperer
as Lt. Heebner
Olga Fabian
as Frau Schmitt
Gila Golan
as Elsa
Stanley Adams
as Hutten
Kaaren Verne
as Frau Lutz
Lydia Torea
as Pastora
Henry Calvin
as Fat Man
Paul Daniel
as Carlos
David Renard
as Woodcarver
Anthony Brand
as Guitarist
Peter Mamakos
as Religious Man
Bert Rumsey
as Officer #2
Jon Alvar
as Student
Charles H. Radilac
as Headwaiter
Steven Geray
as Steward
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Critic Reviews for Ship of Fools

All Critics (16) | Top Critics (4)

Director-producer Stanley Kramer and scenarist Abby Mann have distilled the essence of Katherine Anne Porter's bulky novel in a film that appeals to the intellect and the emotions.

Full Review… | November 7, 2007
Top Critic

Don't look now, but as you might expect with message-mad Kramer at the helm of this adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel, there's a heavy allegory aboard.

June 23, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

A powerful, ironic film.

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

As glib as Stanley Kramer often is, there is probably nothing glibber in his entire output than this Abby Mann adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

Superb acting in an Abby Mann script that seldom descends into bathos.

Full Review… | November 7, 2007
TV Guide

Prestigious and literary cinema at its most ponderous, transfer of Porter's novel to the the big screen by Kramer (the wrong director) is crude and pretentious, but some of the performances, particularly Signoret, Leigh and Dunn, are good.

Full Review… | July 30, 2007

Audience Reviews for Ship of Fools


160530: The word poignant comes to mind. Though well filmed and acted, except for a few characters, and moments; not a pleasant look at humanity. Will have to watch this one again.

John Redshaw
John Redshaw

Kind of like the Love Boat but with fools as opposed to lovers. This entourage film is delightfully funny despite the grim circumstances.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

A second class luxury liner leaves from Mexico on its way to Germany in the days before WWll. Onboard a cross-section of humanity ... and their afflictions ... there in the twilight zone that voyages can be and seeking resolutions when we know that resolutions are only a bedtime story we tell children, and ourselves. Uneven yet still compelling work.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

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