Ship of Fools / Lilith (Double Feature) [Blu-ray]
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Star-Studded HD Double Feature!
Ship Of Fools
...one of the finest ensemble pieces of the period, and remains a compelling viewing experience today. - Turner Classic Movies / Jay Steinberg
Starring: Vivien Leigh , Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrer, Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Michael Dunn
SHIP OF FOOLS is set on a German ocean liner, during the Nazi regime of the 1930s. In the high class section are several well-to-do people, while below deck are a horde of sugar field workers returning to Spain after a season of work in Cuba. The ship is a hot bed of disillusionment, prejudice and delusions of grandeur. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards® in 1965 including Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Actress and Best Screenplay Adaptation. It won the Academy Award®f or Art Direction and Cinematography.
...arty...exotic filmmaking... - eyeforfilm.co.uk / Merlin Harries
Starring: Warren Beatty, Jean Seberg, Peter Fonda, Kim Hunter, Anne Meacham, James Patterson, Robert Reilly
Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg co-star in this haunting drama about the obsessive love between a therapist and his patient. Vincent (Beatty), a war veteran, returns to his bleak Maryland hometown and takes a job as an occupational therapist at Poplar Lodge, a private mental institution for the wealthy. There, Vincent meets a young schizophrenic, Lilith (Seberg), an enchanting patient whose fragile beauty bewitches all those with whom she comes in contact especially Stephen (Peter Fonda), a troubled young man. As Vincent is drawn even deeper into her private world, he too becomes captivated by Lilith and will lie, betray and even destroy to keep her. Soon Vincent himself can no longer determine which of the two worlds his or Lilith s is the sane one.
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On to Lilith (it's as if whoever chose to pair these two features selected as his theme 'Actresses who's private lives were as tragic as their careers were successful). An early Warren Beatty drama with Peter Fonda (showing his acting chops early on) and Jean Seberg who is the poster child for tragic actresses...dying of an overdose at age Forty after 37 movies. Hounded by the FBI into a premature delivery (the FBI spreading unfounded rumors that the father was black in retaliation for her financial support of certain civil rights groups) and death of the child two days later. This moment seemed to have unhinged a part of her and despite her immense talent and beauty she descended into a kind of living hell toward the end of her life being institutionalized several times and marrying men in rapid tandem until she was found lifeless in the backseat of her car clutching pills and a suicide note written in French and in her own handwriting outside her Paris apartment in 1979. Why you ask did I let you in on all that? Because this movie is about a young girl who is a fragile beauty institutionalized and befriended by Beatty who falls in love with his patient and is engaged in a tug-of-war with another patient for her hand (Peter Fonda). It is a love story played out on many levels in an outstanding script. The centerpiece here being the performance by Seberg in a role that she knew far too intimately in what turned out to be a case of art imitating life. The film is hauntingly effective and the leads will turn your head and your heart. Not near the level of Ship Of Fools...but still...in its own right...a classic...and certainly a tragedy for the ages.
Lilith Arthur (Jean Seberg) is a mental patient at a New England mental institution - called an asylum in this 1964 film - along with numerous other schizophrenics. Vincent Bruce (Warren Beatty), a recently discharged soldier returns to his home town in search for employment. He applies at the hospital, interviewing with Dr. Brice (Kim Hunter), and although he has no training, she decides to hire him as an aide. We learn later that Vincent's mother spent time there as a patient.
Vincent begins to take more than casual interest in Lilith as does another patient, Stephen played by Peter Fonda. Lilith is aloof, especially with Stephen, but begins to soften with Vincent. While Vincent keeps things on the up-and-up he eventually takes things too far and falls hard. There isn't a lot going on with this film under Robert Rossen's direction. He plays very slow and focuses on the relationships within the hospital.
There is a secondary plot featuring Vincent and the girl he left behind, Laura (Jessica Walter). Unsure of Vincent's pre-war romantic aspirations, she has married a local misogynistic meathead played by Gene Hackman. The film is full of mysterious pasts of all the key players. It all leads to an eye-opening if logical conclusion.
SHIP OF FOOLS:
This black and white beauty earned 8 Oscar nominations including best picture. It justifiably won for art direction and cinematography which shows up well in the Blu ray transfer.
A German cruise ship is sailing from Mexico to Germany with a pit stop in Spain to offload a contingent of poor workers being deported. Evidently their cheap labor working in the sugar cane fields is keeping the natives from work. Also returning is a Spanish political dissident, La Condesa (Simone Signoret). Those familiar with "Grand Hotel" and other ensemble films will recognize the style.
Numerous couplings interact on the ship which creates big melodrama and interesting subplots and subtext. For example the poor Spanish are essentially relegated to the lower deck where they sleep and eat for the 26 day journey. The setting is 1933 and the swell of Nazism is on the rise. This is depicted with particular vitriol by a character known as Rieber (Jose Ferrer). An unmarried playboy, his bunkmate turns out to be a proud Jew (Heinz Ruhmann).
La Condesa, it turns out is also a bit of a junky. She uses her charms on the ship's Dr. Schumann (excellent Oskar Werner) to get a bit of Morphine, to help her sleep. This relationship between the two evolves in to something more, in spite of the fact they are married to others. It would seem they just haven't gotten around to divorce. George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley (currently seen in HBO's "Treme") portray young lovers on the precipice of marriage, but have significant disagreement as to each other's roles. Lee Marvin plays a has-been baseball player and Vivien Leigh makes her final film appearance as a divorced, aging blue-blood.
Finally, Michael Dunn is the dwarf Glocken, who kind of narrates the film especially at the beginning and end. Director Stanley Kramer stirs the pot of politics and class warfare in this adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel. Screenwriter Abby Mann received an Oscar nomination along with actors Dunn, Signoret and Werner. The film's downfall would seem to be its length (149 minutes). I think the story could have been told equally well shaving about 30 minutes off. Still if you like good dialog delivered by skilled actors, take a look.