Title: Ship of Fools
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Stanley Kramer
Screenplay: Abby Mann
based on the novel of Katherine Anne Porter
Music: Ernest Gold
Cinematography: Ernest Laszlo
Oscar Beregi Jr.
Charles De Vries
There is a ship full of passengers in the film, but it is not Titanic, there’s no icebergs either, with a satirical overtone, this Oscar-winning (BEST ART DIRECTION and CINEMATOGRAPHY in B&W section) film from Hollywood’s ill-fated tycoon Stanley Kramer, who has nominated for 9 Oscars without a single win, could be best interpreted as a bourgeois lampoon to the times before WWII (1930s).
The hotch-potch of the first-class passengers (from Mexico to Europe) depicted in the film are complying with the milieu of that particular period, notably the 3 Oscar-nominated performance from Simone Signoret, Oskar Werner and Michael Dunn (the latter is a very interesting example of a nomination from a normally pedestrian presence, I hope the dwarf card is not the case here), and judging by my taste, Heinz Rühmann and Vivien Leigh are also quite in the top form, especially Ms. Leigh, not to mention her turbulent real life status at that time, her frail with dignity performance is rather too harrowing to watch. However the true heartrending sympathy I am able to sense is from a divine Simone Signoret, a countess on exile, along with her foredooming love story with the inward doctor on board Oskar Werner.
One thing niggling me is the film’s aloof stance towards the poor underclass, they are living in another parallel world even though they are on the exactly same boat with those well-off patrons in the first class. I expected that the film could have gone much further by creating the contradictions between these two classes and which would be more emotionally radical to underline the more meaningful exposition on human’s prejudices. But the film doesn’t offer this on its tilted menu and most characters are indulging themselves in their own insignificant trifles which I easily lost my absorption to address myself to.