Ship of Fools (1965) - Rotten Tomatoes

Ship of Fools1965

Ship of Fools (1965)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Ship of Fools Photos

Movie Info

The first person the audience sees in Ship of Fools is dwarf Michael Dunn, who speaks to viewers directly and acts as a Greek chorus throughout the film. It begins on the deck of an ocean liner travelling from Vera Cruz to Bremerhaven. The time is the 1930s, so close and yet so far from war. The cross-section of humanity on board includes ship's doctor Oscar Werner, Spanish political activist Simone Signoret, aging coquette Vivien Leigh, hedonistic baseball player Lee Marvin, philosophical Jew Heinz Ruhmann, a smattering of pro- and anti-Hitlerites (Jose Ferrer plays the nastiest and most vocal "pro") and young lovers George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley. Yes, it's Grand Hotel at sea, a feast for stargazers and an endurance test for those who aren't comfortable with non-stop speechmaking. Despite such lines as "What can the Nazis do? Kill all six million of us?," Ship of Fools manages to stay afloat throughout its 148 minutes. Michael Dunn was nominated for an Academy Award for his interlocutory characterization; the rest of the performances range from brilliant to merely filling up the room. Other Oscars were presented to cinematographer Ernest Lazslo and to the art-direction staff. Ship of Fools was adapted by Abby Mann from the novel by Katharine Ann Porter.

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Simone Signoret
as La Condesa
Oskar Werner
as Dr. Schumann
Vivien Leigh
as Mary Treadwell
Charles Korvin
as Capt. Thiele
Heinz Rühmann
as Lowenthal
Lilia Skala
as Frau Hutten
Alf Kjellin
as Freytag
Werner Klemperer
as Lt. Heebner
Olga Fabian
as Frau Schmitt
Kaaren Verne
as Frau Lutz
Lydia Torea
as Pastora
Henry Calvin
as Fat Man
David Renard
as Woodcarver
Anthony Brand
as Guitarist
Peter Mamakos
as Religious Man
Bert Rumsey
as Officer #2
Jon Alvar
as Student
Steven Geray
as Steward
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Critic Reviews for Ship of Fools

All Critics (18) | Top Critics (4)

Director-producer Stanley Kramer and scenarist Abby Mann have distilled the essence of Katherine Anne Porter's bulky novel in a film that appeals to the intellect and the emotions.

November 7, 2007 | Full Review…

Don't look now, but as you might expect with message-mad Kramer at the helm of this adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel, there's a heavy allegory aboard.

June 24, 2006
Top Critic

A powerful, ironic film.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

As glib as Stanley Kramer often is, there is probably nothing glibber in his entire output than this Abby Mann adaptation of Katherine Anne Porter's novel.

January 1, 2000

The result, in both book and movie, is a Ship without buoyancy and with an alarming tendency to wallow in heavy seas.

October 1, 2019 | Full Review…

This is the worst movie that Mr. Kramer has yet directed, if the verb may be used, loosely, in this context.

August 13, 2019 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Ship of Fools

Kind of like the Love Boat but with fools as opposed to lovers. This entourage film is delightfully funny despite the grim circumstances.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer

A second class luxury liner leaves from Mexico on its way to Germany in the days before WWll. Onboard a cross-section of humanity ... and their afflictions ... there in the twilight zone that voyages can be and seeking resolutions when we know that resolutions are only a bedtime story we tell children, and ourselves. Uneven yet still compelling work.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


Compelling, tragic character study. Superb acting by Signoret, Werner and Vivien Leigh.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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