Customer Reviews

82
4.3 out of 5 stars
Ship of Fools
Format: DVDChange
Price:$9.99 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 1998
Format: VHS Tape
A stunning, powerful examination of how racism and xenophopia, if unchecked, can overtake society, Ship of Fools is set aboard a German liner sailing from Mexico to Bemerhaven just after the Nazis have taken over. Among the passengers are Vivien Leigh as an embittered divorcee, Lee Marvin as a down-on-his-luck baseball player, George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley as an artist and his lover, Jose Ferrer as a vociferous anti-Semite, Simone Signoret as a Contessa having an affair with ship's doctor Oskar Werner, and Michael Dunn as Greek Chorus. With few exceptions, the entire cast is terrific. Leigh, in her last film, seemingly assimilated all the heartache of her life into this role, and her Charleston near the end is a highlight. The standouts, in my opinion, are Signoret and Werner; they inject their love affair, obviously doomed from the start, with an emotionalism that is genuinely heartbreaking. Ship of Fools is undeniably Stanley Kramer's finest hour as a director, though, ironically, he was passed over for an Oscar nomination, despite a Best Picture nomination. Ship of Fools is required viewing, particularly for those wanting to find some reason for World War II and the Holocaust.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on August 19, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
The setting of this tale is a ship en route from Mexico to Germany in 1933, carrying a disparate group of people, many of whom are unhappy or unfulfilled, living in a time of great political uncertainty. Oskar Werner is the ship's doctor who considers his life a failure and dull, until he meets drug-addicted Simone Signoret, on her way to political imprisonment. They are the standout performers in this film, delivering heartfelt and touching performances, sometimes just needing a knowing glance to communicate so much. Vivien Leigh is terrific as a southern divorcee, bitter about life, men, and marriage, who has some strange encounters aboard, especially with Lee Marvin, an aging ex-athlete who never achieved the glory he wanted. Jose Ferrer pulls out all the stops as an anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizer, who stirs up trouble and alienates almost everyone with his crassness and attitude. George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley star as lovers at odds with each other, but their part of the story is the least interesting. Michael Dunn as a philosophic dwarf and Heinz Ruhmann as a tolerant, kindly Jew also contribute good performances, and if you look carefully, you will also see Kaaren Verne, an actress from Warner Brothers' heyday (All Through The Night, Kings Row) in the role of an insecure girl's mother. The film is fairly long, but it moves along well, since most of the characters are so interestingly drawn and acted, and there is also a good amount of action on board as people go through various crises. Credit goes to director Stanley Kramer for balancing the storyline and ensemble cast so well, and for creating an effective atmosphere that reflects the mood and the real sense of the world at that time in history just before so much would change. It's a classy film.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on April 3, 2000
Format: VHS Tape
Given its setting of sundry characters en route to Germany from Mexico, this film could have easily degenerated into something predictable, mawkish and trite. Instead, it is a truly fabulous cinematic work, with flesh-and-blood characers whose various predicaments, interwoven against the burgeoning Nazi sentiment of the early 1930s, grab the viewer from the very start. As Glocken, the "little person" who delivers a welcoming narrative, said: there's a ball player, a doctor, dog lovers, emancipated ladies and others whose assorted problems unravel themselves and somehow get resolved through the weeks of the sea journey. Simone Signoret and Oskar Werner deliver bravura performances as doomed lovers, while middle-aged disillusioned socialite Vivien Leigh turns in a wonderfully tart portrayal of a closet romantic hidden beneath a sarcastic facade. Lee Marvin is also good as a rough, contemptible athlete whose unmannerly words and actions manage to alienate just about everone on board. The film's theme music, while limited to a few scenes, is also hauntingly poignant. Don't miss this one!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
on June 28, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
It's a cliche to say it, but it's true - they don't make movies like this anymore. Ship of Fools is an intelligent film populated by a variety of beautifully drawn characters portrayed by a cast of actors who know the subtle art of making their interior feelings exterior. Abby Mann's splendid script is based on a book by Katherine Anne Porter and makes some of the usual concessions of adaptations - the hunchback in the book becomes a dwarf in the film, for instance. But the themes and passions remain intact - and the characters and their emotions are as involving now as they were when the film was first released back in the sixties.
Often called a kind of floating Grand Hotel, the ship of the title is a second rate tub taking its crew and disparate collection of passengers from Mexico to Germany in the uncertain days of the mid-1930's. The impending doom of World War II and the Holocaust loom large for everybody to see, but the mostly self-centered characters remain oblivious to all the omens. Tension and passion are always in the air, but the superb dialogue leaves much of it in the subtext.
Of course, any all-star enterprise will succeed or fail on the strength of its performances and Ship of Fools provides more than a single film's worth of acting greatness. Vivien Leigh, at the end of her rollercoaster career, richly deserves her top billing. Her aging coquette may have hints of both Scarlett O'Hara and Blanche Dubois, but she makes her character here equally memorable. Lee Marvin, as a washed-up baseball player, also proves that he could really act when he wanted to. And Jose Ferrer is gloriously over the top as the German businessman eager to embrace Nazi ideals. German actor Heinz Ruehmann is quietly effective and touching as a permanently cheerful Jew ("There are a million Jews in Germany," he says at one point. "What are they going to do - kill us all?"). Michael Dunn as the narrating dwarf maintains a nice air of cynicism. Even the famous flamenco dancer Jose Greco is outstanding in a surprisingly unflattering role.
Best of all, however, are Oskar Werner as the ship's disillusioned doctor and Simone Signoret as a drug-addicted political prisoner on her way to an uncertain future. These two - Werner in particular - bring screen acting to new heights and, in their scenes together, make the audience genuinely care for them. I never cease to be thrilled by Werner's performance.
On the minus side are George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley - two actors who we all know are capable of being much better. Their cardboard characters and trite dialogue seem to belong to another film. Possibly this pair of bohemians were supposed to appeal to the younger members of the audience. Compared to the rest of the cast, they are an embarrassment and a certain impatience sets in whenever they are on the screen.
The film's views and messages may now seem a bit obvious but they are presented with such superlative craftsmanship that you easily forgive a bit of occasional creakiness. There are many wonderful moments to compensate. Such as when Signoret asks Werner if he is happy. Werner smiles slightly, shrugs and replies: "Who is happy?" with such a wealth of world weariness and resignation that he seems to have crammed an entire life (and acting master class) into those few words. Great films, someone once said, are made up of memorable moments. Ship of Fools has more than its fair share of them.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
An ocean liner in a movie usually signals some impending disaster as our cinematic sensibilities have become accustomed to special-effects-laden epics like "The Poseidon Adventure" and "Titanic". That's what probably makes director Stanley Kramer's 1965 "Ship of Fools" look all the more old-fashioned with its omnibus international cast and heavy emphasis on dialogue, and neither an iceberg nor a tidal wave to be seen within its lengthy 149-minute running time. In fact, the whole point of the film is to show a diverse group of people share a 1933 voyage between Veracruz and Bremerhaven in the midst of the rise of the Third Reich in Germany. Consequently the film focuses on messages of political intolerance, anti-Semitism, racism and class distinctions. It all sounds heavy, which fits snugly into Kramer's oeuvre, but actually what still resonates after forty years is a literate script by the estimable Abby Mann and the presence of well-cast actors, some quite exceptional in their roles.

Vivien Leigh is the nominal star, but she doesn't dominate the story. Looking gaunt and acting especially brittle, she gives age-fearing Mary Treadwell a Tennessee Williams makeover complete with a scene of desperate drunkenness beginning with an impromptu Charleston and ending with a merciless beating of Lee Marvin's even more drunken character with her shoe. Leigh's work was so infrequent at the time that this sadly became her last film. Marvin effectively plays Bill Tenny, an obnoxious Texan reliving his baseball glory days and lumbering around the ship looking for women. His best scene is in an empty dining room with Carl Glocken, embodied by the superb Michael Dunn, the story's narrator and an erudite man who happens to be a dwarf (a "sawed-off intellectual" according to Tenny). José Ferrer portrays an abrasive anti-Semitic publisher with his typical stentorian fervor, who ironically has to share a cabin with Jewish salesman Julius Lowenthal, played with contrasting gentility by Heinz Rühmann. Their scenes are rather comical until they come to bond, and Lowenthal spouts his Pollyanna view of the fate of the Jews in Germany. A very young and brooding George Segal and an ingenuous Elizabeth Ashley play David and Jenny, lovers conflicted about their differing priorities.

But best of all are the mature illicit lovers, Oskar Werner as Schumann, the married, ailing ship's doctor and Simone Signoret as La Condesa, the drug-addicted woman en route to a Cuban prison for her role in leading Mexicans to a social uprising. Their scenes together elevate the film into something quite remarkable as their relationship moves from hesitant, almost light-hearted seduction to deep-seeded love, all performed with emotional economy that makes their inevitable parting even more painful to watch. Werner bares Schumann's soul with precision until his final breath, and Signoret combines her unique blend of world-weariness and subtle coquettishness into a morally ambiguous yet magnetic character. Kramer paces the film well, and he also has some nice cinematic shots, like the sight of hundreds of Cuban refugees awaiting the ship to dock, but the constant use of fake backdrops lends an unwelcome staginess to the proceedings. All in all, this is a worthwhile journey to take, in particular, to see Werner and Signoret at their zenith.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Ship of Fools is a cruise-board drama filmed in 1965, but set in 1933. It follows a group of voyagers heading from Mexico via Cuba to Bremerhaven, Germany.

The story involves people from different parts of society - the older Germans that are pro-Nazi, the Jewish salesman, the young idealist painter, the childless couple with a dog that they treat as a child. The ship's doctor falls in love with the socialite who took a stand against poverty.

The movie is in black and white, and won many awards for its set direction and art direction. It also got nominations for many of its actors. The cast features many well known faces - Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Vivian Leigh, and many more.

The movie is very explicitly a social commentary, with differences shown not only between the first class passengers and the Spanish workers down in the hold, but also between different members in first class. There are women forced in prostitution, fathers yelling at kids, women seeking affairs, men contemplating leaving their wives. There is a lot of the traditional "if only they knew" kind of situation, with people thinking the Nazis would never take power - when of course the audience well knows that they do.

It's a fascinating look at the type of cruises offered in the first half of the 20th century - when there was almost always an Upper Class going for luxury and a Lower Class just trying to get to the destination in a cheap manner.

Highly recommended!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2003
Format: VHS Tape
SHIP OF FOOLS is the swansong of Vivien Leigh. She was to die 2 years later of TB at the age of 53.
As Mary Treadwell Vivien gives a tour de force of a performance... of a lonely middleaged woman - who drinks - and doesn`t like the age she has entered...
The title says it all. You`ll c all kinds of "fools" in this film, though not homosexuals(Ok, 1 scene maybe - the doctor and the captain).... All other minoroties are represented...
Vivien`s role is relatively small and is equalled in brilliance by Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin and Alf Kjellin.
It is a great film, never to be missed:-)
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 24, 2007
Format: DVD
These older movies are like fine wine...just get better with age. And compared to the crap that Hollywood has put out in recent years, this flick is getting better with age. Lee Marvin is always great, and don't forget the aging Vivien Leigh, (aka Scarlett O'Hara in Gone with the Wind), both put on a marvelous performance.

Not too many movies were made in reference to Nazi germany of 1935 thru 1939 and this is surely one of the best. Do not miss watching the actors and actresses in this one; you will be glad you saw it!!
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
A fascinating, intense, penetrating, haunting and exploratory drama around a group of passengers traveling from south America to Berlin before the nazi outbreak. From the powerful best seller of Katherine Potter, the picture makes an incisive dissection around the different human profiles, anguishes, and fears under a dark cloud of fatal shadows.

One of my top films of the Sixties. Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner, Lee Marvin are specially effective in this absorbing achievement of Stanley Kramer.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 9, 2003
Format: DVDVerified Purchase
This star-studded film is one of my all time favourite films. The acting,direction and Ernest Gold's music combine to make this an unforgettable experience.This film was made at a time when actors really knew how to act-something missing from most films today. The final 5 minutes of this film is an experience seldom,if ever, seen in a film.A true classic of the cinema.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


Ship of Fools
Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter (Paperback - May 30, 1984)
$11.80
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.