Ship of Fools


Action / Drama / Romance / War

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Fresh72%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright78%
IMDb Rating7.0106143

1930socean liner

Plot summary

Uploaded by: OTTO

Top cast

Stanley Adams Photo
Stanley Adams as Professor Hutten
Vivien Leigh Photo
Vivien Leigh as Mary Treadwell
Kaaren Verne Photo
Kaaren Verne as Frau Lutz
2.16 GB
English 2.0
23.976 fps
2 hr 29 min
P/S 0 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by MartinHafer3 / 10

Make them shut up!

Tonight was the second time I tried to watch "Ship of Fools". The first time, I hated it and couldn't understand its relatively high rating. A few years later, I thought I'd try it again--after all, there are a lot of reviewers who gave this one a 10. Unfortunately, in retrospect my first reaction was confirmed--I did not like this film. Why? Well, there are a few main reasons. First, at times the dialog was simply god-awful--completely impossible to believe and even painful. The worst was the 'love scene'(???) between Elizabeth Ashley and George Segal--it seemed like no conversation I would ever expect from two folks in love and seemed...bad. Second, too many of the characters just seemed like archetypes--too stereotypical and too simple. The bad people are simply bad and the good ones are noble. Third, because the film is set on a ship, there isn't anything to do but just Fourth, and this is probably because I am a retired history teacher, some of the costuming was terrible. Christiane Schmidtmer's hair and costumes were NOT from the 1930s but would have looked rather fashionable in 1965.

The bottom line is that there have been countless films that have dealt with fascism much more effectively. You can easily do better. I did, however, love the bulldog.

Reviewed by bkoganbing10 / 10

Who Was That Ship's Biggest Fool?

This is a film to be watched over and over again because something new can be seen in it on each viewing. This may very well be Stanley Kramer's masterpiece film.

Kramer put together a perfectly cast group of international players and the wonderful thing about Ship of Fools is that even the tiniest roles are invested with real personality. There are no speaking parts in Ship of Fools that are just functionary.

Ship of Fools is set on a German ocean liner sailing from Vera Cruz to Bremen with a stop in Spain to unload the steerage passengers who are a gang of laborers who are returning from Mexico to Spain. The crew members who we get to know are the worldly wise Captain Charles Korvin, the ship's disillusioned doctor with a heart condition Oskar Werner, and the purser with romantic inclinations, Werner Klemperer.

Sounds like the Love Boat so far, but it's about 180 degrees the opposite of that.

You can best compare Ship of Fools to Grand Hotel which was also in a German setting and set in the same time period that Grand Hotel came out, 1932. The passengers all have stories and the intricate plot involves all in each other's story. It's a brilliantly woven tale.

It's impossible to pick out favorites in this cast, they're all so good. Simone Signoret is the mysterious countess with a morphine addiction being deported to Spain. She befriends Oskar Werner because as a doctor he can give her easy access to her needed drugs. Werner knows this on some level, but he gets involved anyway because he sees her as a last chance for life after the heart attack he sustained.

Jose Ferrer is the bellicose Nazi prototype who can't seem to find much good in any other people save the Germans. He's traveling with a statuesque blond who's not his wife. In the latest viewing of this film for me, I noted that Ferrer at a costume party put on a pair of horns that gave him a satanic countenance.

George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley are the young people, both artists and in love. Ashley loves Segal and vice versa except that Segal is rather full of himself and his work. Ashley gets herself innocently involved with Jose Greco and his troop of flamenco dancers who double as prostitutes. Greco by the way is outstanding in his role.

Lee Marvin's breakthrough year turned out to be 1965 because Ship of Fools together with his Oscar performance in Cat Ballou established him as a leading man, not just a brilliant character actor. He plays a loudmouth southern redneck who spews his own views out about both blacks and Latinos. Marvin is a former baseball player who has a brilliant scene with Michael Dunn as he starts crying in his beer over his inability to hit an outside curve ball which brought lower and lower in the professional baseball world. His was the type of mentality that had to be cracked when Jackie Robinson integrated the game in the next decade. Marvin also has an unforgettable encounter with Vivien Leigh who he drunkenly mistakes for one of Greco's girls.

Down the cast list, but a favorite of mine is Alf Kjellin. He's a German who is married to a Jewish woman who is not traveling with him. He listens silently to Ferrer's smarmy anti-Semitism, but says nothing. It comes out about his wife and he's ostracized from the captain's table. He reacts in anger, bitterness, and shame that he was guilty of not loving his wife enough to stand up before.

Heinz Ruhmann and Michael Dunn are the outsiders, those who in Ferrer's New World Order would be eliminated. A Jewish man who believes in patience and tolerance and a cynical dwarf whose parents give him spending money so he's not around them. Ruhmann was in fact a star in German cinema during the Nazi era and this film and his role as the Jewish peddler Lowenthal are almost an expiation for him. Ruhmann apparently had no political background and was not a Nazi cheerleader, otherwise he would not have had a career in post war Germany. Dunn tells him he might be the biggest fool on the boat and Ruhmann says if Ferrer's crowd gets in power, what can they do, kill all of them.

If I had to pick one stand out for me it is Vivien Leigh as the cynical middle-aged divorcée, mourning her youth that has passed. This was Leigh's farewell performance and so much of her own troubled life was put into this one. It's a complex role, she's self centered, but a survivor much like Scarlett O'Hara. She's also a person not totally tuned out to the problems of others. It was her indiscretion that led people to know about Kjellin's wife and she nails Lee Marvin when he comments about what is everyone's problem with Jews. She comments with deadly accuracy that he was to busy lynching black people to hear about Jews. She becomes a confidante to Liz Ashley as well. It was a grand performance for Leigh.

Ship of Fools got several Oscar nominations including Best Picture and acting nominations for Oskar Werner for Best Actor and Michael Dunn for Best Supporting Actor. Hard to even single them out in this brilliant ensemble.

This one is a classic not to be missed.

Reviewed by SnoopyStyle7 / 10

Grand Ship

It's 1933 Veracruz. Various characters are on board a German cruise liner on its way to Europe. A dwarf named Glocken breaks the 4th wall to tell the audience that this is a ship of fools. The obvious reference is that these people are oblivious to the impending world shattering events. In Cuba, the ship picks up 600 Spanish laborers who are being deported due to the crashing sugar price.

This is a scatter shoot telling of various characters going through their lives on the ship. The good news is that most of the characters and their stories are fascinating. The movie would benefit by finding its center. My preference is the duo of Jewish salesman Lowenthal and Glocken. The most powerful scenes come from them. Many of the others have some archetypal characteristics with some over the top melodramatic performances. This is reminiscent of Grand Hotel which I don't see as a great thing. The ambition is great and the execution is solid. This movie is definitely saying something in the abstract. As a narrative, it meanders in a scattered manner.

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