Black SplatShip of Fools (1965)

"My name is Karl Glocken and this is a ship of fools! I am a fool. You’ll meet more fools as we go along. This tub is packed with them. Emancipated ladies and ballplayers. Lovers. Dog lovers. Ladies of joy. Tolerant Jews, Dwarfs. All kinds. And who knows—if you look closely enough, you may even find yourself on board."

Ship of Fools - Glocken, one of many fools aboard the ship.

Description: Michael Dunn as Glocken narrates the beginning of the motion picture Ship of Fools (1965).

Karl Glocken is a dwarf and passenger aboard a German ocean liner crossing the Atlantic from Vera Cruz to Bremerhaven, Germany in the pre-Nazi days of 1933.

Each day, at the Captain's table, an anti-Semitic German named Siegfried Rieber (José Ferrer) freely shares his prejudices against the Jews (and others) with the guests at the table. Not surprisingly, Glocken and Lowenthal (Heinz Rühmann), a Jewish passenger are seated away from the Captain's table. But Glocken and his assigned eating companion take the segregation in stride and share their thoughts and amuse each other with tales of the day and of their lives.

Lowenthal, a salesman, who likes to get along with everybody, is not surprised of the prejudice on board, and says, "Listen, it's not a new story: white men hate black men, Muslims hate Buddhists-that's the way it goes. There's prejudice everywhere. It does no good to give it back. You have got to use your noggin'."

Ship of Fools - Lowenthal and Lewenthal sharing a meal together.

Rieber: Lowenthal, you know it is a historical fact that the Jews are the basis of our misfortunes.
Lowenthal: Of course.
Rieber: You agree?
Lowenthal: Of course. The Jews and the bicycle riders.
Rieber: The bicycle riders? Why the bicycle riders?
Lowenthal: Why the Jews?
Frau Hutten: Do you know what they say in Mexico? Mexicans loathe the Americans, hate the Spaniards, distrust the English, admire the French and love the Germans.
Rieber: That is all very nice. I am glad they say those things but, as far as I am concerned, after a few weeks in Mexico, you can keep the Mexicans, too.

Other passengers on board this "Ship of Fools" include:

  • Dr. Willie Schumann (Oskar Werner), the ship's physician. He has an onboard romance with La Condesa, a countess from Spain. He dies before the cruise ends from a fatal heart condition. Before his death, the doctor advocates the human treatment of the 600 displaced workers onboard who are being deported from Cuba back to Spain.
  • La Condesa (Simone Signoret), a drug-addicted Spanish political activist. After her ship board romance with the doctor, she is sent to an island prison run by Germans as the boat arrives at its destination.
  • Freytag (Alf Kjellin), a regular guest at the Captain's table who is later removed from the company of the other guests when Reiber discovers his wife is Jewish.
  • Mary Treadwell, Vivien Leigh), a flirtatious, aging divorcée who longs for her youthful days in Paris.
  • Bill Tenny, (Lee Marvin) a washed-up American baseball player who is dissatisfied with his career.
  • David (George Segal), an American artist who is unhappy with his success as a painter.
  • Jenny Brown (Elizabeth Ashley), David's lover who has to contend with her husband's failure.
  • Captain Thiele (Charles Korvin), the German Captain of the ship with whom select passenger's share meals at his private table.

Note: The passengers on the "Ship of Fools" are tagged as fools because of their inability to see the foreshadowing of the holocaust and the reign of terror of the Nazi Regime soon to come.

In the film The Addams Family (1991) Raul Julia as Gomez Addams says to a court judge, “They say a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. Well, as God as my witness. I am that fool!”

Ship of Fools - Movie Poster

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