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Ship of Fools (1965)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance, War | October 1965 (Austria)
3:37 | Trailer

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A varied group of passengers boarding a ship bound for post-war Germany represents a microcosm of 1930s society.



(novel), (screenplay)
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)
Capt. Thiele
Julius Lowenthal (as Heinz Ruehmann)
Amparo (as Barbara Luna)


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) »




Drama | Romance | War


Not Rated | See all certifications »




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Release Date:

October 1965 (Austria)  »

Also Known As:

Das Narrenschiff  »

Filming Locations:

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Unusually, Oskar Werner's Oscar nod was the only performance that year to be nominated in the Best Actor category for a film also nominated for Best Picture. All of the other Best Picture nominees - Darling (1965), Doctor Zhivago (1965), The Sound of Music (1965) and A Thousand Clowns (1965) - failed to produced a Best Actor nominee. A controversial omission in this category was Jason Robards, whose tour de force performance was unquestionably the anchor of A Thousand Clowns (1965). See more »


As the passengers disembark at the end, Johann pauses on the steps to watch Amparo walk by, when Tenny appears walking down the steps behind Johann. Immediately the film cuts to a shot of the gangplank above, where Tenny is seen just leaving the ship. See more »


Rieber: Lowenthal, you know it is a historical fact that the Jews are the basis of our misfotunes.
Lowenthal: Of course.
Rieber: You agree?
Lowenthal: Of course. The Jews and the bicycle riders.
Rieber: The bicycle riders? Why the bicycle riders?
Lowenthal: Why the Jews?
See more »


Referenced in Hollywood Mouth (2008) See more »


Tales from the Vienna Woods
Music by Johann Strauss
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User Reviews

Alltime favorite movie
30 September 2006 | by See all my reviews

Not one moment of this film is without meaning. While some of it is a bit too obvious, most is done with a light enough touch. The main reason I like this film is because of how closely it touches true human emotions. The relationship between Simone Signore and Oskar Werner is a masterpiece in subtlety and never follows a trite pattern. Just as Werner says it is the only thing that is real to him, it is so very real to us also. The other characters are not as well developed in my opinion, though they are still interesting. I fell in love with Oskar Werner in this film & every time I see it,it is fresh. I will have to find a copy of the book to see if the other characters are developed more there. I have seen other films that are moving & approached so very near to reality, but this is the only one that I feel is/was a slice of reality.

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