Ship of Fools (1965)

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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... See full summary »



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Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Siegfried Rieber (as Jose Ferrer)
Pepe (as Jose Greco)
Karl Glocken
Charles Korvin ...
Capt. Thiele
Julius Lowenthal (as Heinz Ruehmann)
Frau Hutten
Amparo (as Barbara Luna)
Alf Kjellin ...
Lizzi Spoekenkieker


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

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| |

Release Date:

October 1965 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Das Narrenschiff  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Kranmer did not enjoy working with Oskar Werner, who refused to play the bar scene stage left. Kramerhad to have the set rebuilt to accommodate the actor. See more »


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 »


Mary Treadwell: Tell me. Wouldn't it unnverve you to have an affair with me?
See more »


Referenced in Matinee (1989) See more »


Irgendwie, irgendwo, irgendwann
Music by Ernest Gold
Lyrics by Jack Lloyd
See more »

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User Reviews

An Imperfect Gem
2 December 2007 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

A grim long voyage with an earnest script by the remarkable Abby Mann and a respectful Stanley Kramer at the helm. Assorted desperate characters makes the sailing a gripping one. When the extraordinary Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner and Vivien Leigh are on, we're there with them one hundred per cent. Simone Signoret's addicted Countess and Vivien Leigh's bitter and disillusioned middle age Southern woman touch and dominate the highest, most powerful moments. Their stories have an immediate resonance and their faces, wonderful, beautiful faces, carry a truth that is as pungent as it is undeniable. Painful yes, very painful but, as it happens with the best kind of drama, entertaining, compelling, cinematic. Jose Ferrer's German bore, George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley and even the wonderful Michael Dunn will make you sea sick at times but I will recommend it nonetheless just to admire and enjoy Vivien Leigh's Charleston or Simone Signoret looking at Oskar Werner with a mixture of love, lust, compassion and need. For collectors of imperfect gems.

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