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3.9 out of 5 stars
Voyage of the Damned - Blu-ray & DVD Combo
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42 of 43 people found the following review helpful
on June 4, 2000
The ill fated voyage of the SS.St Louis has long passed into folk lore as one of the nazi propaganda machines more devious creations. All courtesy of Dr Joseph Goebbels. Briefly the idea was to allow a specially selected group of some 900 jewish refugees to leave Germany ostensibly to Cuba and then wait for the fallout when their visas were refused entry first by Cuba then the US, Canada and other so-called 'democratic' countries. The reasons given for refusal were couched in political jargon but the underlying translation was, 'sorry but we dont want to be overrun by thousands of jewish migrants, take your problems elsewhere'. Juden ist verboten !. The nazis would chomp with glee at these actions which would of course support their aryan theories that the jews were a race apart, and that the policies of other nations were indeed no different from Hitlers germany. Sad to say the plan worked all too successfully.
The star studded cast here give mixed portrayals of a cross section of the ships passengers. They are led by Oskar Werner and Faye Dunaway as Egon & Denise Kreisler. Max von Sydow gives an understated performance as the beleaguered ships captain, determined to stay neutral and non-political despite being caught in the middle of some diplomatic pointscoring. After the war his courage and bravery is honoured by world jewish congress. Lee Grant tends to overact her role but unforgettable is James Mason as Remos, the incorruptible foreign minister determined to save two young girls following a personal appeal by their father to a certain influential high class prostitute. Played superbly by Katherine Ross her parents are also on the ship and their is a brief but tearful reunion scene as the mother realises her daughters true profession. But this is just one story of many. No doubt the story is full of historical inaccuracies and the purists will howl at this but for all that it is still a watchable film re-enacting one of the more shameful episodes of WWII not entirely of the nazis own making.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2009
There seem to be multiple versions of this film, perhaps due to its length. I've always wanted to view an intact version, but this obviously isn't it. For some reason, Lion's Gate, which used to be a fairly reliable DVD producer, has taken it into their collective stupidity to release their films in full screen. What are planning next...video tape?
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
THIS IS A VERY GOOD MOVIE BASED ON A GREAT BOOK OF THE SAME TITLE,BUT
WHY IS THIS DISC NOT IN 1:85:1 WIDESCREEN INSTEAD OF PAN AND SCAN??
ALSO THERE IS A 182 MINUTE VERSION OF THIS FILM WHICH WAS RELEASED
ON VHS TAPE - WHERE IS ALL THIS EXTRA FOOTAGE?? THIS DISC EARNS ONLY
2 STARS - THE MOVIE REALLY DESERVES 4 STARS FOR QUALITY
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 21, 1999
All-star cast (Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner, Sam Wanamaker, Maria Schell, Julie Harris, Max von Sydow, Wendy Hiller, etc.) recreate the true and gripping story of a shipload of Jews seeking to emigrate from Germany during the Second World War. They have been granted passage on a German ship but then cannot find a country that will take them in.
Beautifully executed from start to finish, this movie is based on the book of the same title. It has great acting, interesting characters and a poignant story. The action of the movie has an upbeat ending, but the final frames of the movie inform us of the ultimate fate of each passenger.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon March 16, 2005
VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED, Sir Lew Grade's star-studded dramatisation of the infamous SS St. Louis affair, is absorbing and harrowing viewing. The cast is truly amazing and most of the characters come directly from real-life people caught up in the drama. During World War II, 937 Jewish citizens were curiously allowed to leave Germany and emigrate to Cuba. While many believed the offer to be a trap, most took their chances and decided to flee from the impending Holocaust. Sure enough, once the ship docks in Havana, the passengers are refused entry and their visas' are cancelled. With country after county refusing to take them, the Captain has no other option than to return to Germany...

The escalating horror and dread onboard the ship is perfectly-pitched amongst the strong cast, with standouts including Faye Dunaway and Oskar Werner as Dr. and Denise Kreisler; Max von Sydow as the Captain; Lee Grant as Lillian Rosen (with Lynne Frederick as her daughter); Dame Wendy Hiller as Recha Weiler; Julie Harris as Alice Feinchild and Helmut Griem as the menacing Otto.

The cast also features Malcolm McDowall as the sympathetic young Captain's steward; Katharine Ross as the frantic daughter in Havana trying to save her onboard parents; Paul Koslo as Aaron Pozner and Ben Gazzara as Morris Troper, who becomes one of the refugees' most ardent champions and saviours.

The rest of the cast includes Janet Suzman, Victor Spinetti, James Mason, Luther Adler, Nehemiah Persoff, Denholm Elliott and Georgina Hale. Originally shown on TV in two parts (179 mins); and the cinema version runs for 155 mins with several altered scenes and cuts.
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39 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on April 30, 2009
DO NOT BUY AT ANY COST!

The movie is excellent, but this DVD is one of the worst I've ever seen.

All I can say is Lionsgate truly deserves to go out of business... There are no fewer than FOUR fatal things wrong with this release:

1. A cut 158 minute print
2. A Dual sided DVD with a 2 1/2 hour feature only 4.8 GB out of 8.5 GB available, which results in an abominable average bitrate of 4.21 Mbits/sec... The whole transfer is a soft, muddled mess, riddled with compression artifacts.
3. NO EXTRAS
4. Pan and Scan which isn't even an open-matte transfer! Adding even more insult, the END CREDITS are PROPERLY LETTERBOXED in the OAR of 1.85:1!!

DIE, Lionsgate, just DIE now, please.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
New release or otherwise, after all this time there is still only ONE home video of VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED that isn't missing a half-hour of film, and that's the two-tape VHS set issued in 1980 by MAGNETIC Video.

UNCUT 182 MINUTE VERSION

Despite not having a Hi-Fi audio track and being the "antiquated" technology, those tapes are still the ultimate edition. Until a "restored" copy comes out, they will remain highly collectable.

.
CAST: Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner, Lee Grant, Sam Wanamaker, Luther Adler, Wendy Hiller, Julie Harris, Nehemiah Persoff, Maria Schell, Jonathan Pryce, Max von Sydow, Malcolm McDowell, Orson Welles, James Mason, Katharine Ross, Victor Spinetti, Michael Constantine, José Ferrer, Ben Gazzara, Fernando Rey, Denholm Elliott.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2004
Aside from the fact that these events (or perhaps events just like them but more horrible ) took place, this film could not be more compelling.
It is filled with first rate performances (some only in cameo, but all of them fully drawn and realized). This is perhaps among the best ensemble film work done by Lee Grant, Faye Dunnaway, Julie Harris, and a host of others. Tension builds with unrelenting force as the story shifts back and forth between The "damned" St. Louis, and Havana where "conscience" in the persons of a father and a leader of the Jewish agency (Ben Gazarra in a meaty role) attempt, unsuccessfully, to plead, then shame, then bully Cuban politicians into honoring the visas issued to the jewish passengers.
We watch as this tension takes its toll on so many of the passengers. We watch as the largely Nazi crew commits their small tortures upon the passengers. We know, as do the passengers and the Captain (Masterfully played by Max Von Sydow) what awaits them should they be forced to return to Germany. The fact that the entire voyage is a perverted Nazi publicity stunt ("See, no one wants them!") is driven home when both the United States and Canada refuse permission to enter their waters....
No spoiler here - you will have to watch the film to see their endings. The performances will haunt you. The set pieces (The entire masked - ball sequence for example) will haunt you. The soundtrack is evocative of europe in days gone by, and the beautiful theme, restated by a variety of instuments and in increasing earnestness, ties the many stories of this large ensemble cast into one coherent experience for the audience.
This is, to many, a mere footnote to history, the plight of these people. But watch and see if you don't feel the largeness of their fear. The impotence of their hopelessness. This underappreciated film has much to teach us that cannot be found in history books.
My only regret is - no widescreen edition. This film begs for it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2014
The story of the MS (not SS) St Louis is the real life "Ship of Fools" It tells the tragic story of over 900 Jewish refugees who were allowed to leave Germany in 1939 aboard an ocean liner with the Nazis knowing full well that their port of destination (Havana) would not take the passengers. An appeal to the United States and later Canada failed to get permission for them to land in North America so they were forced to return to Europe where the Nazis crowed that no one wanted the Jews so stop blaming Germany. However, through the courageous actions of the German captain, they found accomodations outside of Germany. Tragically when Western Europe fell, a number of the passengers later wound up in concentration camps. 227 of the 936 refugees did not survive the war. That's the real story in a nutshell.

When executive producer Sir Lew Grade and director Stuart Rosenberg decided to make a film of the 1974 book VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED, they went back to the 1965 fictional film SHIP OF FOOLS to use as their template. This was also in keeping with the multi-character films of the era such as AIRPORT and THE TOWERING INFERNO. We see a microcosm of the ship's passengers and crew from the heroic captain (Max von Sydow) to a virulrent undercover Nazi officer (Helmut Griem) to an ill- fated romance between a German crew member (Malcolm McDowell) and a Jewish passenger (Lynne Frederick). Other significant characters are played by Faye Dunaway, Oskar Werner (his last film), Wendy Hiller, and Orson Welles (at his heaviest). Powerful (even if the fashions aren't always historically correct and the accents certainly aren't) and also very accessible, VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED should be seen for its historical value alone.

The original film clocked in at 182 minutes but was cut to 155 minutes for general release. That footage was put back in for its VHS release but it is the general release version that is on this new Blu-Ray/DVD combo. Most welcome is the restoration of the film's original widescreen aspect ratio which wasn't available on the previous Lionsgate release of only a few years ago (see pre-2013 reviews). It appears that Shout Factory, who released this title, has acquired the rights to a number of Sir Lew Grade's 1970s films. THE EAGLE HAS LANDED, THE CASSANDRA CROSSING, THE DOMINO PRINCIPLE and even the notorious RAISE THE TITANIC are now being issued in freshly restored versions. These films are a welcome addition to the current catalogue as they have been out of circulation for far too long.

P.S. Amazon: You're missing 2 "e"s as in Fay(e)Dunaway and Orson Well(e)s.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on June 9, 2009
It COULD have been an accurate and informative documentary-type film...it COULD have had an interesting, realistic script...it COULD have done with half the cameo stars and with lots more explanation of the true historic setting...but it wouldn't have become the made-for-tv film that it is. Everyone tries just a bit too hard in their roles, and the German stereotypes are actually very funny..the sneering accents, the Dachshund, the singing of "party" songs, the "comraderie" of the committed officers...Yah!
Lots of money was spent on on this mediocrity, most of it, probably, going to the vast number of big names; just maybe it was PC in those days to sign on. It certainly couldn't have been to advance anyone's career...
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