Search This Blog

Friday, July 29, 2016

Ship Of Fools (1965)

In 1933, a German ocean liner is sailing from Veracruz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany. The passengers are a cross section of humanity from worker peasants to rich Americans, artists, intellectuals and working class. But the specter of Nazi Germany hovers over the voyage as its passengers seem oblivious to what is to come. Based on Katherine Anne Porter's best selling 1962 novel, adapted for the screen by Abby Mann and directed by Stanley Kramer. I've not read Porter's novel but surely it wasn't as heavy handed and dripping with oppressive symbolism as Kramer's film. As usual with Kramer, he treats his audiences as dim witted children who have to be inundated with the self evident irony as if we were incapable of understanding without his assistance. Of course, critics and audiences at the time were all aflutter over its self important bloat. What makes the movie watchable today are the performances which with one exception are excellent across the board. The exception being Jose Ferrer's godawful Nazi lover who seems to have walked in from a Mel Brooks comedy. On the plus side, Simone Signoret as a woman being sent to prison and Oskar Werner (both Oscar nominated) as the ship's doctor transcend the material and bring genuine pathos and heart to their performances. Ernest Lazslo's handsome B&W cinematography and Robert Clatworthy's stunning production design (the entire ship was recreated on a sound stage) give the film some life. The massive cast includes Vivien Leigh, Lee Marvin, George Segal, Elizabeth Ashley, Jose Greco, Lilia Skala, Charles Korvin, Barbara Luna, Alf Kjellin, Michael Dunn and Heinz Ruhmann.

No comments:

Post a Comment