The first thing I noticed about this sinking ship of a movie the other night was how crummy it looked. The action takes place on a 2nd rate ocean liner sailing across a process shot sea with not so much as a roll, a tilt or a sway, it just smoothly goes along without a bump. Of course the bumps are there big time mainly in the corny simplistic and sentimental screenplay by Abby Mann and in the hit them over the head direction by Stanley Kramer, who was never one for subtly or nuance. Taken from a book by Katherine Anne Porter that was a surprise best seller, the plot concerns a ship of grand hotel types, a Noah’s ark of stereotypes and clinches that is set in 1933 as this ship makes it way from Vera Cruz Mexico to Germany. Although the film is set in 1933 (the rise of Hitler get it) the look of the film including the costumes, hair etc. is strictly mid 60’s and this is something that I could not get used to, it really jars. The movie was dated in 1965 when I first saw it, and at 18 I didn’t care for it. I had already seen that year Red Desert, Darling, Repulsion and The Shop on Main Street and after these challenging works (to this 18 year old anyway) this waxwork really held no interest for me. Among the cast are George Segal as a starving and struggling artist who does social realist drawings of the poor and starving peasants who are traveling in squalor on the lower deck and touch George’s little bleeding heart, especially a wood carver of terrible little animals that look like something you would see on a sidewalk table in Soho. Tagging along with George is his girlfriend the very annoying Elizabeth Ashley looking very 60’s who hates his paintings and all they do is fight and makeup. A very dull couple. The other passengers include Jose Ferrer as a Nazi sympathizer who chews up every piece of lousy scenery he can get his mouth around. He of course represents the dangers of Fascism that is just around the corner for Germany and the world and is used by Kramer like a hammer to our heads. In fact in one scene which takes place at some tacky costume party Kramer even puts devils horns on Jose’s balding head just in case we missed what he was. As I said Stanley was never one for subtlety. There is also one Jew on board played by Heinz Ruhmann who is of course kind and gentle, a salesman of Religious jewelry who is the brunt of Jose’s hostility and anti-semantic rants and for some reason Kramer has them rooming together. The Jew snores and keeps the Nazi up all night, he also is the mouth piece for the Jews of Germany who were “German first, and Jews second,” and says “what are they going to do kill us all, there are over one million Jews in Germany” to Michael Dunn who plays the “dwarf” of the piece and is the other social outcast among the passengers. Every so often Dunn talks directly to us mocking all the fools, and pointing a finger at us as if we had anything to do with the making of this drek. Vivien Leigh, ah poor Viv is once again playing the aging southern belle but she’s at least showy and fun, so I can’t be too hard on her, and besides she looks dreadful. Now in all of this mess there are two gems, Simone Signoret as La Contessa a drug addict who is being deported to prison for some political reason, and Oskar Werner as the ship’s doctor. These are two great performances and their scenes together as unlikely lovers are moving, real, subtle, and are really the only reason you might consider seeing this dated and mediocre movie. Also in the large cast is Lee Marvin, Jose Greco, Charles Korvin and Werner Klemperer. Nominated for 8 Oscars (winning two for the lousy art direction and the average cinematography. The other good thing is the opening credits after which you just might want to abandon ship.