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Yes a bit clumsy at times due to Kramer, but the story and acting are wonderful. I especially love the scene when a drunken Lee Marvin trues to explain something about baseball to Michael Dunn. Brilliant timing by both. Some of the story lines are less engaging (Elizabeth Ashley and George Segal especially), but Signoret, Werner, Leigh triumph. Some nitpicking? The costumes are often straight out of 1965, and are not remotely accurate to 1933.
The best movie score ever composed!
A movie that is still relevant today. So poignant in exposing human frailties and the historic trends toward prejudice and approaching war. We are still on that 'Ship of Fools.' I watch this annually as a reminder to stay awake to the unfolding of political and social tragedy. Excellent performances by Signoret, Werner, Marvin and Leigh. Loved it!
As Hollywood's perennial message man, if there is one thing as sure as death and taxes it is that Stanley Kramer will attempt to wring every possible ounce of ideology and pathos out of a script and onto the screen, and with Ship of Fools Kramer has plenty of wringing to do.
Working from Katherine Anne Porter's novel of the same name, Kramer and screenwriter Abby Mann expertly juggle and weave through a labyrinth of troubled characters aboard an Ocean liner travelling from Mexico to Germany in 1933.
The film opens flippantly with dwarf Carl Glocken (played by Michael Dunn who might be the pick of a very strong bunch) breaking the fourth wall to set the scene, a scene populated by a diverse range of fools that perhaps even the viewer will be able to see themself in. Carl is the only person fit to talk directly to the audience aboard the ship, his mind proving to be the clearest and most objective and his comments prove warranted as the ship represents a cross section of humanity's darker tendencies. The film swivels through its ensemble, from a hypocritical ex-baseball player, to an anguished an unhinged woman amidst the calamity of age and fading beauty. From the ship's doctor who constantly has his moralistic determination shaken by the inevitable evils of man, to a vulnerable and seemingly doomed countess. From an overly optimistic Jewish German to a radical anti-Semite, blind and offensive in his politics. From an artist so impassioned by his work, to his lover who pleads for his attention. From the disheartened lowly working class who occupy the ship's deck to the misguided inhabitants of the first class. And from this assortment Kramer is able catapult into an equally diverse series of discussions, delving into regret, disillusionment, crisis of identity, art, love and most prevalent of all with Nazi Germany looming, bigotry.
Cyclically shifting from acts of hate to faltering relationships to characters on the brink of implosion Kramer can't help but adopt an air of self importance in his handling of such relentlessly hefty ideas. The film slips into soap opera with its parade of damaged individuals and endless heavy handed heart aches and the ship is in constant threat of sinking thanks to the sheer volume of its concepts and their pretentious coating. It is however kept afloat by Kramer's very clear passion for his characters and what they represent. Villainous though some of the personalities may be, the director never goes all in with his vilification of them. He respects them and would admirably rather show them warts and all as humans rather than as heinous caricatures, and this humanist sensibility spills over into his handling of the texts ideologies. He treats his topics with such respect that there importance is impossible to underestimate, the director as ever wearing his heart gallantly on his sleeve.
At two and a half hours it sure seems like a lot of arduous listening, but it is undeniably well worth the listen, and with a universally on-song cast that also boasts Vivien Leigh, Lee Marvin, George Segal and Simone Signoret, it's never as hard to listen to as it could be.
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Ship of Fools is a good concept executed poorly. It has absolutely amazing acting with the performances from Oskar Werner, Vivian Leigh and Simone Signoret among others being just terrific and the highlights of the film. It also has its moments, mostly some emotional as well as sweetly romantic, but it is awfully directed by Stanley Kramer, badly edited and prolong and just too preachy, melodramatic and downright unsubtle.
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.
A very cute film with a great ensemble cast most noteworthy Simone Signoret, Vivian Leigh, and Michael Dunn. Stanley Kramer does a wonderful job directing this and it has great writing, art direction, costumes, and music.
Kind of like the Love Boat but with fools as opposed to lovers. This entourage film is delightfully funny despite the grim circumstances.
Can't decide if I loved this one or just liked it. Some excellent performances by Vivian Leigh, Oscar Werner, Simone Signoret and a very nasty Jose Ferrer. Some good stories that intersect well on an ocean liner in 1930 leaving Mexico headed for Germany. Lots of illusions that show you these people had little idea what was going to happen in Germany. Interesting if not a bit heavy.
Yes, it's didactic. Yes, it's a little silly at times (Lee Marvin's fit over not being able to hit an outside curve, for example), but its heart is in the right place. Hindsight about the Nazis in 20-20. But it does personalize these attitudes and there are, in addition, realistic conversations with believable dialogue.