Ship of Fools


SHIP OF FOOLS was released July 25th, 1965. For me it is one of the most hauntingly brilliant movies of our time. It is filled with tender love stories, lost hope, lost love, crueltry, hate and bigotry. It is stacked with brilliant Actors, giving brilliant performances via an amazing script and book by Katharine Anne Porter and Abby Mann. It’s tone is set by wonderful soundtrack written by Ernest Gold and directed by Stanley Kramer. One would conclude from this that I am totally enthrawlled with this movie. Yes.It is electrically charged with diverse characters who suspend our belief by the “Wink of an eye.” I first saw it on a Valentine’s date with Bobby Bates. It was one half of a double feature. I think he liked the other half which was The Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre. Ah Well! “Boys will be boys.” On that note I will now quote some notes, present some photos, quote some quotes and leave you to watch some video clips. @J.E.Goldie

Ship of Fools is a 1965 drama film directed by Stanley Kramer, which recounts the stories of several passengers aboard an ocean liner bound to Germany from Mexico in 1933. It stars Vivien Leigh, Simone Signoret, José Ferrer and Lee Marvin. It also marked Christiane Schmidtmer’s first U.S. production. Ship of Fools was highly regarded, with reviewers praising the cast’s performance but also noted the movie’s overlong runtime. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards in 1966. -Wikipedia-

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The characters board a German ocean liner in Veracruz, Mexico, for a voyage to Germany, along with 600 displaced workers in steerage, being deported from Cuba back to Spain, and a not-so-exotic band of entertainers, for whom the voyage is just a job.

The ship’s doctor, Schumann, takes a special interest in La Condesa, a countess from Cuba who has an addiction to drugs and is being shipped to a Spanish-run prison. Her sense of certain doom is contrasted by the doctor’s determination to fight the forces of oppression, embodied by his insistence that the people in steerage be treated like human beings rather than animals. The doctor himself has a secret, a terminal heart condition, and his sympathy for the countess soon evolves into love.

Several passengers are invited to dine each night at the captain’s table. There, some are amused and others offended by the anti-Semitic rants of a German businessman named Rieber who – although married – is beginning an on-board affair with Lizzi, a busty blonde. The Jewish Lowenthal is invited instead to join a dwarf named Glocken for his meals, and the two bond over their exclusion: the character Glocken sometimes speaks to the audience, more often at the beginning and the end of this film. Eventually a passenger named Freytag seems shocked to find himself ostracized when Rieber learns that his wife is Jewish.

Others aboard include a young American couple, David and Jenny, who bicker because David is unhappy at his lack of success with painting. A divorcée, Mary Treadwell, drinks and flirts, on a quest to recapture her youth in Paris. Bill Tenny is a former baseball player disappointed in the way his career never quite took off. They are distracted by the music and the professional dancers, whose flirtations seem to skirt the edges of solicitation.

The ship stops in Spain where the displaced workers and La Condesa disembark. The doctor dies before the ship reaches Germany. Upon the arrival in Germany, everyone leaves the ship, but the Nazis have taken over.

Addressing the audience, Glocken asks how important the appearance of the Nazis are to him and the others, to which he says the word “Nothing”. -IMdB-


Mary Treadwell: Everybody on this ship is in love. Love me whether or not I love you. Love me whether I am fit to love. Love me whether I am able to love. Even is there is no such thing as love. Love me.

La Condesa:To think, isn’t it wonderful: two strangers on a ship – we will never meet again. We can talk – we can talk like friends, or even lovers… we can talk like two people who meet on the other side of the grave. Wilhelm Schumann: Keep talking.

[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.


Hopefully I have given you enough encouragement to further investigate this film.  If not you may have been entertained a little.




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Jen Goldie

"Life is made up of small comings and goings and for everything we take with us, we leave a part of ourselves behind" - Summer of 42

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