On Friday 4th at 5pm we have SHIP OF FOOLS (2h30) starring Vivien Leigh (in her final film role), Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner, José Ferrer and Lee Marvin.
1933: An ocean liner belonging to a second-rate German company is making a twenty-six day voyage from Veracruz, Mexico to Bremerhaven, Germany. Along the way it will stop in Cuba to pick up a large group of Spanish farm laborers who are being shipped home and who will be housed like cattle in steerage. There it will also pick up La Condesa, a Spanish countess. It will stop in Tenerife, where the farm workers will disembark and where La Condesa will be sent to a German-run prison for her "traitorous" activities in Cuba. This voyage will be the last of three for the ship's doctor, Willi Schumann, who has a serious heart ailment and who thought he could find some meaning to his life through this job. Willi and La Condesa fall in love, with the ship's Captain Thiele, who is Willi's closest friend on board, believing the drug-addicted La Condesa is only using him to get her fixes. Willi and La Condesa have to figure out if there is a future for them after the voyage, as Willi's life also includes a wife and sons back in Bremerhaven. Among the other motley crew of passengers are: Mary Treadwell, a middle-aged American divorcée who is trying to recapture her youth; Tenny, a middle-aged American ex-baseball player who laments never having made it big in the game; David and Jenny, a young American couple who say they are in love but who have to overcome their fundamental differences in social standing and life outlooks; Rieber, a middle-aged German Nazi sympathizer who is traveling with a young woman companion and who lords his beliefs over the other German passengers, who in turn are either so self-absorbed with their own lives and/or just don't care to notice what is happening in Germany with the Nazis; and Lowenthal and Glocken, a German Jew and a German dwarf respectively, who are "paired" as the outsiders among those in first class. Their encounters, plus those with a rambunctious pair of children, two German teenagers who are coming into their sexual being but are having problems overcoming issues they face, and a troupe of gypsy entertainers whose women are pimped out by their leader, lead to an interesting voyage.
‘’ Director Stanley Kramer usually dealt with films of a social nature. Ship of Fools, based on Katherine Ann Porter's best seller, is such a film.
It revolves about a group of passengers on their way to Bremerhaven, Germany in 1933, as the Nazis have seized power and started their brutal change in Germany.
Willie, the ship doctor, is masterfully played by Oscar Werner, who merited a best actor nomination. It was reported by the AMA that Werner gave an excellent depiction as someone in the throes of a fatal coronary. Before that, he added so much as the physician on board who fell in love with the beautiful Contessa, played memorably by Simone Signoret. We see her in the throes of drug addiction, but tenderly loved by Willie.
Vivian Leigh, as Mrs. Treadwell, an American divorcée is also on board. She cavorts with a drunken Lee Marvin, a baseball player, who doesn't understand what the Germans have against the Jews. She skilfully reminded him that he has apparently been too busy lynching Negroes to know what is going on in the world.
An excellent supporting cast of George Segal, Elizabeth Ashley, as well as the brilliant Jose Ferrer, in a brilliant turn as the Nazi, who advocated death for older people.
Veteran German actor, Heinz Ruehman, asks: What are they going to do, kill us all?
You've been a fool if you've missed this endearing picture so far. It is out of this world. ****.’’ IMBd reviewer
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