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Ship of Fools (1965)

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Ratings: 7.2/10 from 3,638 users  
Reviews: 60 user | 25 critic

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

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Katharine Hepburn was first choice for the aging Southern belle, but because of Spencer Tracy's bad health she opted to continue to care for him, and she was replaced by Vivien Leigh. 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 »


Lowenthal: I like people; if you look for it, you can find something good in anybody.
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Featured in Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust (2004) See more »


Tales from the Vienna Woods
Music by Johann Strauss (as Josef Strauss, Jr.)
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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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