Cinema: Rough Crossing

Ship of Fools. In her mordant 1962 bestseller, Novelist Katherine Anne Porter unsparingly scrutinized what she described as "the ship of this world on its voyage to eternity." Her passengers were pimps, bigots, weaklings and other morally rumpled types, booked from Veracruz to Bremerhaven on the German vessel Vera during the early 1930s. Skirting the allegorical deeps, Producer-Director Stanley Kramer and Scenarist Abby Mann (Judgment at Nuremberg) have turned Ship into just another showboat—a flashy popular melodrama, acted with everyman-for-himself urgency by a troupe of scintillating international stars.

Director Kramer, who seldom resorts...

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