Ship Of Fools (1965)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBB.5

USA, 1965.  Stanley Kramer Productions.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by Stanley Kramer.  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Stanley Kramer followed his successful Judgment At Nuremberg with another epic-length World War II-themed drama. This one takes place in the mid-thirties, on a cruise liner setting sail from Mexico on its way to Germany. On board is a huge assortment of characters, all played by an internationally famous cast including Vivien Leigh (in her last film) as a drunk American widow, Jose Ferrer as an anti-Semitic German and  and George Segal as a bickering American couple. The centre of the story revolves around an exiled Cuban aristocrat (Simone Signoret) and her romance with the ship’s doctor (Oskar Werner), but there are also small pleasures to be derived from the uniformly excellent supporting cast.  Shot beautifully, the screenplay never manages to maintain any momentum and always feels choppy, but there are pockets of brilliance here and there that make it well worth enduring. It’s one of those films that must have seemed so much more important upon its original release but by now feels dated and outdone by so many others.

Academy Awards:  Best Cinematography-BW; Best Art Direction-BW
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Actor (Oskar Werner); Best Actress (Simone Signoret); Best Supporting Actor (Michael Dunn); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Costume Design-BW

Golden Globe Award Nominations:  Best Picture-Drama; Best Actor-Drama (Oskar Werner); Best Actress-Drama (Simone Signoret)

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