7.2/10
4,446
64 user 25 critic

Ship of Fools (1965)

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

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video

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

Director:

Stanley Kramer

Writers:

Katherine Anne Porter (novel), Abby Mann (screenplay)
Reviews
Popularity
1,376 ( 9,695)
Won 2 Oscars. Another 3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An aging actress travels to Rome with her husband; after he suddenly dies during the flight, she begins a passionate affair with a young gigolo.

Director: José Quintero
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Warren Beatty, Coral Browne
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

In 1940s Mississippi, two teenage boys and an elderly woman combine forces to prevent a miscarriage of justice and clear a black man of a murder charge.

Director: Clarence Brown
Stars: David Brian, Claude Jarman Jr., Juano Hernandez
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A woman unhappy in her passionless marriage leaves her husband for a younger and more ardent lover.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Kenneth More, Eric Portman
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

During World War I, believing her fiance to be dead, a young ballerina loses her job and is forced to turn to prostitution. From there, things only get worse for her in this tragic, heart-wrenching, love story.

Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Robert Taylor, Lucile Watson
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  

After Larry Darrent accidentally kills his lover's blackmailing husband, someone else is arrested for the crime. When he is found guilty, Larry and Wanda have just three weeks together ... See full summary »

Director: Basil Dean
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Leslie Banks, Laurence Olivier
Anna Karenina (1948)
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A married woman's affair with a dashing young officer has tragic results.

Director: Julien Duvivier
Stars: Vivien Leigh, Ralph Richardson, Kieron Moore
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

An ambitious young accountant plots to wed a wealthy factory owner's daughter, despite falling in love with a married older woman.

Director: Jack Clayton
Stars: Laurence Harvey, Simone Signoret, Heather Sears
Up Periscope (1959)
Action | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1942, Navy Lieutenant Kenneth Braden from the underwater demolition team is sent to a Japanese island to photograph secret radio codes.

Director: Gordon Douglas
Stars: James Garner, Edmond O'Brien, Andra Martin
Certificate: Passed Drama | Romance | Sport
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A brash young American aristocrat attending Oxford University gets a chance to prove himself and win the heart of his antagonist's sister.

Director: Jack Conway
Stars: Robert Taylor, Vivien Leigh, Lionel Barrymore
Desperate (1947)
Crime | Film-Noir | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  

A young married couple flee both police and a gangster out for revenge.

Director: Anthony Mann
Stars: Steve Brodie, Audrey Long, Raymond Burr
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

The stories of several people are told as they stay at a seaside hotel in Bournemouth which features dining at "Separate Tables."

Director: Delbert Mann
Stars: Rita Hayworth, Deborah Kerr, David Niven
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Vivien Leigh ... Mary Treadwell
Simone Signoret ... La Condesa
José Ferrer ... Siegfried Rieber (as Jose Ferrer)
Lee Marvin ... Bill Tenny
Oskar Werner ... Dr. Wilhelm Schumann
Elizabeth Ashley ... Jenny
George Segal ... David
José Greco ... Pepe (as Jose Greco)
Michael Dunn ... Karl Glocken
Charles Korvin ... Capt. Thiele
Heinz Rühmann ... Julius Lowenthal (as Heinz Ruehmann)
Lilia Skala ... Frau Hutten
BarBara Luna ... Amparo (as Barbara Luna)
Christiane Schmidtmer ... Lizzi Spoekenkieker
Alf Kjellin ... Freytag
Edit

Storyline

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) »

Taglines:

Everywhere...Everyone's Calling It the Must-See Picture of the Year! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German | Spanish

Release Date:

October 1965 (Austria) See more »

Also Known As:

Das Narrenschiff See more »

Filming Locations:

Hollywood, California, USA

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Simone Signoret was actually born in Germany. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
Glocken: [walks up to the ship's railing] My name is Karl Glocken, and this is a ship of fools. I'm a fool, and you'll meet more fools as we go along. This tub is packed with them: emancipated ladies, ball players, lovers, dog lovers, ladies of joy, tolerant Jews, dwarfs - all kinds. And who knows, if you look closely enough, you may even find yourself on board.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Bob Newhart Show: Ship of Shrinks (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Tales from the Vienna Woods
(uncredited)
Music by Johann Strauss
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Ship of archetypes.

The only person aboard who seems to have his wits about him is Michael Dunn, the dwarf. His character tends to reserve judgments about people and things, more of an "observer," as he puts it. He has common sense too, and foresight. And as a matter of fact, he gives one of the few outstanding performances, although he's always good. Equally memorable are Lee Marvin as a washed up baseball player and Oskar Werner as a disillusioned ship's doctor. The other performances are competent, but these three are rather more than that.

Most of the comedy is provided by Dunn and Marvin. Dunn and Marvin have a scene together that is nearly perfect in its dialogue and timing. Marvin is drinking and getting maudlin. He tells Dunn that he can't hit a curve ball over the outside corner. Dunn asks him to explain what he's talking about, and there follows this outrageous schtick in which Marvin describes with horror how -- once it got about that he couldn't hit a curve ball over the outside corner -- that's all he ever saw, curve balls over the outside corner. He remembers his father sitting in the stands and hollering at him ("even though he wasn't there") -- "You're a BUM!" At one point, without adumbration, he suddenly claps his hands to his face and bursts into a torrent of sobs. He smashes glasses on the table while demonstrating his failure, and a shocked and slightly frightened Dunn looks on.

When Marvin's outburst is finished, Dunn chuckles and asks something like, "Do you know how many people know what a curve ball is?" There is a long pause while Marvin stares at him, unsmiling, unblinking, his flabby lower lip pendulant. The pause continues. And continues. And continues. (It's an old scene-stealing trick -- delay your answer to make your lines seem more important.) At long long last, Marvin answers, "No." Dunn explains that out of a billion people in the world, only a handful even know what a curve ball over the outside corner is, let alone that Marvin can't hit one, so he's being a little harsh on himself. Marvin ponders this, then asks, "You know what I think?" And there follows another of those infinitely long pauses before Dunn answers. (The two actors and the director must have worked on this together for a long time, otherwise none of them could have helped breaking up with laughter.) Dunn finally replies, "No." Marvin says slowly and emphatically, "I think you're a sawed off INTELLECTUAL." Then adds, "Drink up, shorty." That scene, with its improvised quality, its near-perfect timing and acting, its camera placement, should be shown in every film class.

I don't want to leave out Oskar Werner who, along with Simone Signoret, provides the romance and the drama. He is a doctor with a heart condition and, out of pity for Signoret, begins providing her with the morphine she's addicted to. They fall in love. Now -- that's usually about the last thing I want to see in one of these "Grand Hotel" movies, a tragic romance. But this one WORKS. I can't remember many performances on film that improve on Oskar Werner's. He seems almost inspired and the role has depth enough for him to display some range too. I'm not sure the romance with its inherent conflict between the 40ish Signoret and the 30ish Werner would be as admirable as it is if it weren't for the actors. Signoret is not particularly attractive. She's overweight and has a husky voice and is a social outcast. If the role had been cast with a younger, beautiful actress, it could easily have been turned into just another star-crossed-lover sob story. It's especially because Signoret looks so beat upon and worn and dumpy that the relationship has some resonance with real life, which is always sloppy when it comes to romance. (We always fall in love with the wrong person, don't we?)

There isn't space to go into the plot, which isn't really worth too much attention anyway. I haven't read Katherine Ann Porter's novel, the title of which is based on a painting by Hieronymous Bosch that hangs in the Louvre and was finished some time before 1500. The plot has a bit of ambiguity. We sympathized with the displaced Spanish laborers in steerage, but two of their kids throw overboard a dog that belongs to a childless couple. A laborer dies saving the dog, but the "parents" don't inquire about his identity or show any gratitude. They care more about the dog's having gotten wet than about the death of a proletarian. I think we're meant to feel superior to the elderly couple with the dog.

Therein lies the problem I have with Abbey Mann and, to a lesser extent, Stanley Kramer. The simple people of color are good. The wealthy white people are neurotics. (Except for a dwarf.) The rich whites are dumb, too. "Listen, my friend," says a Jewish salesman, "there are one million Jews in Germany alone. What are they going to do -- kill all of us?" The viewer's memory toggles into "six million" right away, a figure that rings chimes in our brains.

I can't speak for everyone but I dislike being preached at by self-righteous screenwriters, particularly when they deal with "big" issues that must be handled delicately so as not to be cheapened. Abbey Mann accepted his Oscar in the name of "all intellectuals everywhere." I have a feeling that when he was writing "Ship of Fools" it didn't occur to him that he might himself be aboard.

Give wardrobe an award. At a costume party, Jose Ferrer as the Nazi, is dressed as some kind of jester or devil, and the costume seems to have leaped right out of Bosch's painting.


39 of 65 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 64 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

Stream Trending Movies With Prime Video

Enjoy a night in with these popular movies available to stream now with Prime Video.

Start your free trial



Recently Viewed