Social Significance and Big Issues were always Stanley Kramer's forte and his big ponderous pictures were popular then, whether dealing with racial intolerance (THE DEFIANT ONES), the end of the world (ON THE BEACH), the war trials (JUDGEMENT AT NUREMBURG), teaching (INHERIT THE WIND) etc. SHIP OF FOOLS, scripted by Abby Mann, is more of the same (the naive German Jew returning to Germany says: "there are one million Jews in Germany alone. What are they going to do -- kill all of us?") but it is quite entertaining as well, particuarly when the leads are on view - much more satisfying than the 1976 all-star plodder VOYAGE OF THE DAMNED which was too stuffed with names to involve one ("look, there's Julie Harris with Wendy Hiller..." etc), Oscar Werner was in that too, married to Faye Dunaway in her jackboots).
This is a satisfying convoluted thriller, rather like that other Le Carre, THE SPY WHO CAME IN FROM THE COLD (Mason is George Smiley in all but name), with offbeat London locations - the cast excel, good to see Ingmar Bergman actress Harriet Andersson here, Signoret is suitably enigmatic, and there is a murder in a London theatre (the Aldwych actually where David Warner is playing EDWARD II on stage..., and Lynn is a dippy stagehand). It combines elements of film noir, magnificent cast, understatement, gritty realism, even a touch of humor now and then among the glum events. Signoret in just 4 scenes (2 of them silent) excels, the intrusive score by Quincy Jones seems out of place though.
Mason, Signoret and Warner joined forces again for Lumet's impossible to see now THE SEAGULL in '68. We do though have another Signoret to watch: THE WIDOW COUDERC from 1971 with Alain Delon, plus Ophuls' 1950 LA RONDE to re-visit. She is also terrific and glamorous in 1967's GAMES, that quirky thriller by Curtis Harrington, see review at Signoret label.
More Kramer soon - his 1969 'comedy' THE SECRET OF SANTA VITTORIO one of several Qunns to see (THE LOST COMMAND, THE GREEK TYCOON), also Lumet's last film BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD; more Lee Marvins too: THE KILLERS, POINT BLANK, HELL IN THE PACIFIC, PRIME CUT.