Sunday blogging on the Ship of Fools
I’m baaack! Sorry for the prolonged absence. This has been the worst flu I’ve had in years, and, if there’s a flu vaccine shortage again I’ll make sure to travel overseas to get a flu shot. The memory of days of bone-rattling chills followed by drenching sweats will be more than enough motivation.

I haven’t been up to reading for the past few days, but could only lie there and doze through hours of HGTV (yes, an unfortunate addiction). I did manage to watch most of Ship of Fools, the 1965 film version of the play, where, as the IMDB tells us, “Passengers on a ship traveling from Mexico to Europe in the 1930s represent society at large in that era.” Black and white cinematography is a lost art, and I enjoy watching it, plus I was in the mood for melodrama.

The cast starred not one, but two, top-rank, hard-living, hard-drinking, hard-smokin’ divas, Vivien Leigh and Simone Signoret. Along with Leigh & Signoret there were at least two other Oscar winners in the cast, José Ferrer and Lee Marvin, but my favorites were Oscar Werner and Michael Dunn. The Signoret-Werner scenes at once passionate and tender (albeit in a neurotic sort of way), unlike any of the other couples, who ranged from self-destructive to mercenary. Michael Dunn, a brilliant actor who was a dwarf, lights up the screen in a performance that more than matches that of his co-stars — according to his IMDB bio, he was nominated for an Oscar for this part. Flamenco dancer José Greco danced and played a pimp in a surprisingly amusing performance. Amusing, perhaps because his character didn’t pretend to be anything other than a flamenco-dancing pimp, just as Dunn’s character could not pretend to be anything other than what he was.

SOF is the kind of movie they just don’t make any more, not only because it’s in B&W and because of the double-diva dilemma (Simone said, Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be, and well, neither are top-rank, hard-living, hard-drinking, hard-smokin’ divas), but also because its intense melodrama nowadays isn’t found outside of horror movies starring Oscar winners like Halle Berry. Oscar Werner managed to have the granddaddy of all on-screen existential middle-age crisis, but Dunn got the final word,

“You might ask, What does all this have to do with us?
Nothing!”

Later on I watched the last 45 minutes of Sense and Sensibility, where Ang Lee got a fantastic performance out of Alan Rickman. Unfortunately, that was the apex of Rickman’s film carreer and he hasn’t come up to that level since. The same day I watched S&S Netflix sent the made-for TV Something the Lord Made, where Rickman played Alfred Blalock and Mos Def played Vivien Thomas, the pioneer heart surgeons. Both performances were very good but the movie belongs to Mos Def.

Netflix also sent the first disc of the first season of 24. If I’m up to it, I’ll watch that instead of the Academy Awards. Years ago I saw Chris Rock in the awful Dogma, and that will do, thanks. Otherwise it’ll be tylenol and benadryl for me.

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