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Ship of Fools (1965)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | October 1965 (Austria)
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A varied group of passengers boarding a ship bound for pre-WWII Germany represents a microcosm of early 1930s society.

Director:

Stanley Kramer

Writers:

Katherine Anne Porter (novel), Abby Mann (screenplay)
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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vivien Leigh ... Mary Treadwell
Simone Signoret ... La Condesa
José Ferrer ... Siegfried Rieber (as Jose Ferrer)
Lee Marvin ... Bill Tenny
Oskar Werner ... Dr. Wilhelm Schumann
Elizabeth Ashley ... Jenny
George Segal ... David
José Greco ... Pepe (as Jose Greco)
Michael Dunn ... Karl Glocken
Charles Korvin ... Capt. Thiele
Heinz Rühmann ... Julius Lowenthal (as Heinz Ruehmann)
Lilia Skala ... Frau Hutten
BarBara Luna ... Amparo (as Barbara Luna)
Christiane Schmidtmer ... Lizzi Spoekenkieker
Alf Kjellin ... Freytag
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Storyline

1933: An ocean liner belonging to a second-rate German company is making a twenty-six day voyage from Veracruz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany. Along the way it will stop in Cuba to pick up a large group of Spanish farm laborers who are being shipped home and who will be housed like cattle in steerage. There it will also pick up La Condesa, a Spanish countess. It will stop in Tenerife, where the farm workers will disembark and where La Condesa will be sent to a German-run prison for her "traitorous" activities in Cuba. This voyage will be the last of three for the ship's doctor, Willi Schumann, who has a serious heart ailment and who thought he could find some meaning to his life through this job. Willi and La Condesa fall in love, with the ship's Captain Thiele, who is Willi's closest friend on board, believing the drug-addicted La Condesa is only using him to get her fixes. Willi and La Condesa have to figure out if there is a future for them after the voyage, as Willi's life also ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

german | ship | american | love | germany | See All (227) »

Taglines:

EXPLORER, MISTRESS, VAGRANT, LOAFER, ARTIST, TRAMP ... THEY ARE ALL AT THE CAPTAIN'S TABLE! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Spanish

Release Date:

October 1965 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Ship of Fools See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$4,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Oskar Werner and José Ferrer would make a similar film 11 years later. Voyage of the Damned (1976) also was about a boatload of refugees heading back to Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War. It would prove to be Werner's final film. See more »

Goofs

Tenny and Mrs. Treadwell, seated together in the dining room, order dinner. In the next scene at the captain's table, Tenny is shown in the background looking through the menu and Mrs. Treadwell is not seated at the table. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Glocken: [walks up to the ship's railing] My name is Karl Glocken, and this is a ship of fools. I'm a fool, and 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 even find yourself on board.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004) See more »

Soundtracks

Del Puerto
(uncredited)
Written and Performed by José Greco
See more »

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User Reviews

 
This fine drama concerns a shipload of crew , passengers and refugees amidst impeding doom
6 July 2013 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

This Soaper is a stirring story dealing with a dramatic as well as tragic voyage ; displaying a stellar cast formed by Hollywood actors and notorious German players . It's an enjoyable but overlong screen rendition based on Katherine Anne Porter novel of the same name . In 1933 (during election of 1933, in which the National Socialist German Workers Party received 43.9% of the overall vote, an increase of 10.8% on the previous election) , a varied and vast group of passengers on a ship en route from Mexico to Germany represent society at large in that era . Carrying hundreds of Spanish refugees , German (Heinz Ruhmann was not Jewish but he was a very rabid anti-Nazi and anxious to play the part) and Jewish people that seemingly are destined to certain doom . The crew is German , including Capt. Thiele (Charles Korvin) , Lt. Huebner (Werner Klemperer) and doctor Schumann (Oskar Werner features most memorable acting) who falls in love with one of the passengers , the neurotic Contessa (Simone Signoret) . Furthermore , the once famous but now a disappointed and despairing divorcée named Mary Treadwell (Vivien Leigh's last film , she replaced Katharine Hepburn who was first choice for the aging Southern belle, but because of Spencer Tracy's bad health she opted to continue to care for him), a punchy as well as forceful baseball player (Lee Marvin) and a wise dwarf (Michael Dunn) . A young American woman, Jenny (Elizabeth Ashley) , is traveling with the man she loves, David (George Segal) . The passengers have mixed emotions about their voyage , some are happy about freedom , some are sad to leave their homeland, some become involved into illicit loves and some are angry about their next fates . Some of the crew (Jose Ferrer) , those that sympathize with the Nazis , are also angry that authorities would allow Jews to sail to freedom and are bigotries about having to share place with their inferior passengers .

This is a penetrating drama with all-star-cast gives superb interpretation and realized in ¨Grand hotel¨ at sea style . Special mention to the extraordinary couple acting as illicit lovers magnificently played by Simone Signoret and Oskar Werner who would make a similar film 11 years later ,¨Voyage of the damned¨ by Stuart Rosenberg , also was about a boatload of refugees heading back to Germany before the outbreak of the Second World War ; it would prove to be Werner's final film . The picture is overlong and a little boring ; being occasionally interesting . Picture almost dissolves into separate stories but ship's captain and doctor hold it together . It deservedly won Academy Award for art direction (Robert Clatworthy , Joseph Kish) and cinematography (Ernest Laszlo) .

This old-fashioned motion picture was well produced and directed by Stanley Kramer . He directed 14 different actors in Oscar-nominated performances .He was a notorious producer and director who gave big successes . Kramer formed his own production company in 1947, in conjunction with Carl Foreman . He had a reputation for being frugal, working well within his budgetary limitations . Many of his films reflected social or political concerns and were often controversial . Stanley was consequently tagged as a "message film maker" and "Hollywood's Conscience" . Among his most popular films are : The pride and the Passion¨, ¨On the beach¨, ¨ Judgment at Nuremberg¨, ¨Ship of fools¨, ¨World is mad , mad ,mad¨ and ¨Guess Who's Coming to Dinner¨ . Rating : Acceptable and interesting drama . Worthwhile watching


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