Tuesday, February 09, 2016


Bob Dylan may have said it best: "Too bad what we have can't last."

But musically, there's still a shimmer to Ernest Gold's poignant "Love Theme" from "Ship of Fools."

As you might guess from the movie's title, "Ship of Fools" was symbolic, pretentious and overly long.

Even so, it had some vivid moments of foolish if not appalling behavior. Most of the latter concerned particular forms of cruelty to animals, immigrants and Jews, among other easy targets.

The film, based on Katherine Anne Porter's novel, also focused on the angst of relationships sinking like the Titanic or going as wrong as most any Carnival Cruise.

For a "love theme," this piece is very sad. This confused me at the time, since I hadn't actually seen the film when I bought the record. Back in the day, when new albums pushed the older ones aside pretty quickly, soundtracks were an endangered species. Once the film was out of the theater, the "souvenir" music album would go to the bargain bin. I figured if the movie had a well-known composer involved, why not give it a try?

I finally saw the film recently, and it turns out the moment that uses this music in the background, is indeed sad. Oskar Werner plays the ship's doctor, who has a heart condition, and Simone Signoret is a washed-up drug addict. Their feelings for each other are tender. Their prospects for a happy future? Well, tough.

In the movie still above, you see Oskar Werner contemplating the problem, and thinking, "Does she remind me more of Broderick Crawford in drag, or Lon Chaney Jr.?"

Among the other stars making the film worthwhile; Lee Marvin as a boorish baseball player, Vivien Leigh in her last role, and a little fellow who once, with a female partner, sang songs in New York City cabarets: Michael Dunn.


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