Ship of Fools
Reviewed in April 2010
Director: Stanley Kramer. Cast: Oskar Werner, Vivien Leigh, José Ferrer, Simone Signoret, Elizabeth Ashley, George Segal, Michael Dunn, Heinz Rühmann, Lee Marvin, Alf Kjellin, Christiane Schmidtmer, Charles De Vries, John Wengraf, Lilia Skala, Stanley Adams, Charles Korvin, Werner Klemperer, Gila Golan, Kaaren Verne, Oscar Beregi, Jr., Barbara Luna, José Greco, David Renard, Olga Fabian, Henry Calvin, Peter Mamakos. Screenplay: Abby Mann (based on the novel by Katherine Anne Porter).

Photo © 1965 Columbia Pictures/Stanley Kramer Productions
Vera Cruz 1933, jaunty "Latin" score into drippy swings and back; "My name is Karl Glocken, and THIS is a SHIP of FOOLS" (into cam); 318; "And who knows, if you look closely enough, you may even find yourself on board"; doesn't know what he'll do without him after 3 voyages?; dog at table with Germans (JF, Alf, Stanley Adams, LSkala); Ashley & Segal 26 days no sex; "We'll find out whether we have anything going for us except sex"; VL a croaky-sounding American, dining with LM; "runs for three weeks... I'd like to hear more about it"; OW's scar makeup is puckering; JF German nat'list; SS enters from waving, parting mob of displaced Cuban sugar farmers?, overlong shot; long hosing of Mexicans on deck; LM: "You mean to tell me, you work at something you cna't make a livin' at" (bare-chested, talcum in pits); HR and MD the only two Germans not as capt's table; HR Jew sells interfaith trinkets; salesman must overcome prejudices; EA: "David's an artist, a wonderful one... He's all caught up with social consciousness right now, but he'll get over it"; VL: "He was so jealous of me he hit me" and EA *giggles* b/c she's only thinking about herself & how she wouldn't allow that; VL arms herself, shades & cig; the curiosity of the non-participant"; Fraulein Brown "a modern woman, their needs are a lot more complicated than our mothers' were"; deck sermons, Mex peas, opposed by Marxist leader who would spit in God's face; deckchair tossing, wrestling, roustabout fracas; solid 6 min of flamenco in full shot; Mex seductress of Johann; VL "unescorted women don't get too unhappy," 46th bday; VL: get fat or turn into a beanpole... marry men who are too young for them and get just what they deserve; VL: Would in unnerve you to have an affair with me; EA: This is so unattractive when you get like this - so violent and myopic, it's exactly the kind of thing that affects yoru work (I liked how she was grinning earlier when Cpat wouldn't retrun carver's knife); Elsa 16??; adolescence is a period when people worry about thigns they have no need to worry about; EA wishes she'd danced with tape-measure on her leg, she'd know how many miles at her happiest (?); 5739 OW delivered baby; LM rejects exorbitant $40 hooker; JF "advocating the extermination of all the unfit... painlessly, of course"; telling old people about their own obsolescence; JF ser dancing and cackling in devil cap?; 20 min dance seq; 10332 the wreck of SS, weeping as OW watches; OW: "I haven't met many people in my life who have committed themselves to anything"; OW married with two sons, happy?, "Who's happy?"; LM disconcerts MD with his drunken regrets about missed curveballs and father calling him bum, seems to be baiting MD with violent mood swings; MD: "the most amusing things about people are the guilts they drum up for themselves"; LM: "I think that you are a sawed-off... intellectual"; OW: "I wonder if it's really true that life is as stupid and meaningless as it seems on this ship"; OW: "She's a wonderful woman, we've been kind to each other for many years"; some of the erotic laziness of RFiennes, with Amon's voice; Johann: "How long are you going to keep me a penniless beggar" wheeling father in deckchair (!); "How can you KEEP me a penniless beggar? How can you do it?"; "I've seen you watch that gypsy dancer's buttocks as she walks on the deck"; VL: "Oh, of course, everybody on this SHIP is in love"; deep cynicism about loves; AK shunted to Low/MD table after disclosing his wife is Jewish; AK: "You can't even EXIST without your prejudices - and the worst thing about you is, you don't even RECognize what you ARE!"; VL: "Maybe you were too busy lynching Negroes to take time out for the Jews!"; JF: "Thees STATEMENTS that I make, you mustn't take them personally - it is the march of history!"; carver has drowned himself, to save life of dog; Skala and husband don't even hear that carver who saved their dog is dead; GS: "Jenny, do you know what I need, I need something very simple, a woman"; Ashley's good!; "She's going to have to live a life for ME! Jenny, I know it sounds selfish, but it's true!"; don't you have a special feeling abt being a German (msuic, to MD); "The German Jew is somethin gspecial: we are Germans first, and Jews second... A little patience, a little good will, it works itself out...What are they going to do, kill all of us?"; (abrupt caesura); Johann beating father for money; EA drunken flamenco; Pepe's but through his flamenco pants; VL full-on Lotte Lenya; "You ar a most mundane, ord man.. How extraor that a man like you should be syaing things like this to me... Probably true" (nightclub floozy demanding lies); "that snotty Amer bitch, Mrs Treadwell"; seasick high strings as VL's by herslef, and sudden Charleston; walks down to cabin in dark silhouette; VL lugubrious confrontation of herself aging in mirror; huge eyebrows and shadow; LM staggers in, coercive; VL horrifeid by LM's admission of mistake; backhands him against her door, beats him with shoe; emphysema, quck zoom; more reveals: drowned man, EA in bed with GS; VL *back* at her mirror; OW swilling down cognac; "When I think of the things I have seen on this ship!" - she looked into the garbage dump, she did something about it!" vs. false civ, filling our orders, avoiding being fools "and we wind up being the biggest fools of all"; OW hyperventilating on deck, gasping, heart attack; childish wails as he falls to the boards; cam retreats beneath marching band womps; German orchestra; EA looking tweed-jacketed and somewhat cowed; parade down the debarking steps; Lowenthal with loving fam (what will happen to them?); indeed, x OW's blond bros, sternly mourning fam; LS grandmotherly embrace of Nazi-uniformed nephew or grandson; MD last, looking at us again through rails, sort of Ustinov in La Ronde; MD: "What has all this to do with us? Nothing." sardonic laugh; it sort of IS a ship of fools, probably too much so...

S I M O N E     S I G N O R E T
SS 2032; wants sleeping pills; secret "a clear conscience," 600 people living on open deck; my house has been burned; taken to prison; "I'm very helpless at thees moment" froggy; 2645, asking OW's first name Wilhelm as she drifts off; 3622; when ev poss has gone wrong, you feel nothing else can happen; made brother drinnk lye water, "I was only curious whether it would kill him"; OW's 12yo exper with housekeeper; SS's a bit lighter, more attr than in Room; "You're dull, stolid, unimaginative, helpless, and charming" 3835; OW has "quite serious case of heart trouble," SS taken aback, futzes with tablecloth; SS: "Are you trying to tell me I'm an addict?" (Sweet Bird); Pardon me for my house, pardon me for the way it looks, pardon me for ...everything; most of this place is a garbage dump and I'm just a piece of garbage; 11134; she hid agitators in her chapel and provided them with arms, but sells it casually, while she fluffs her pillows, matter-of-fact; calls his scar "formidable"; 11316; married 3x, never found the right one; SS: Natrual Resistance and Clinical Medicine, heh?; reading LChLover to OW in sickbed, rather mockingly, though it turns out to be a Journal of Medicine, "Jonathan, Jonathan, you're violating me"; JF and that blonde putting everyone off w/ German singing; SS: "For me, a little German music goes a long way"; OW & SS sex fadeout x arrival in port; cruddier gray and white of SS's cabin at end; "my darling, love, for once let's kiss in broad daylight"; breaks into credible tears, then exhausted, weirdly cursory "bye"; SS' costume billowing behind her down the gangplank is a bit much; did she help out of loneliness?; C–

Academy Award Nominations and Winners:
Best Picture
Best Actress: Simone Signoret
Best Actor: Oskar Werner
Best Supporting Actor: Michael Dunn
Best Adapted Screenplay: Abby Mann
Best Cinematography (Black & White): Ernest Laszlo
Best Art Direction (Black & White): Robert Clatworthy; Joseph Kish
Best Costume Design (Black & White): Bill Thomas & Jean-Louis

Golden Globe Nominations:
Best Picture (Drama)
Best Actress (Drama): Simone Signoret
Best Actor (Drama): Oskar Werner

Other Awards:
New York Film Critics Circle: Best Actor (Werner)
National Board of Review: Best Actor (Marvin; also cited for Cat Ballou)

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