Far too many of us are stuck this summer, because we just can’t seem to afford a real vacation. So instead of really going somewhere and actually doing something, the term ‘staycation’ was developed to, I suppose, make us feel better as we wilt at home and suffer through the summer doldrums. So, what could be more refreshing than watching a cruise ship movie? You know the genre, all glitz and glitter, as glam passengers parade around the sun-kissed deck of some luxurious ocean liner. Tranquil seas, elegant surroundings, beautiful people, big drinks, and a good time was had by all. Escapism at its finest, I suppose.
Yet there are some cruisy type movies that have, to borrow a term, an assault and battery twist. These are the movies where, despite the happily ever after beginning, the cruise inevitably ends tragically. Given box office and fan ratings, these type of movies provide a guilty pleasure for many of us. So, and to help you feel better about being stuck in staycationville, here’s a few comments about vacationers in three such movies who really owed it to themselves to just stay home! So don’t even think of envying them.
>Titanic: Several versions, the most recent with DeCaprio and Winslett as star-crossed lovers, blah blah. Youthful dreams dashed on the rocky shoals of bad seamanship. Of course, the narrative had to include a bunch of bad raps against the ship’s owner, the White Star Line, and that the collision with the iceberg, and subsequent sinking, wouldn’t have happened, except for corporate greed. Yet the most unrealistic thing in both this and the older version was the ‘women and children first’ theme. The British upper crust male passengers, knowing that they faced a nasty and imminent drowning death in icy waters, nonetheless genteelly help women (irrespective of class, if you can believe that) into the few available lifeboats. Damn, they didn’t portray an iota of fear, nor did they even think to loosen their neckties. There’s stoic, and then there’s stupid. Your choice.
>Posieden Adventure: Starring Gene Hackman, not as Popeye Doyle but, if you can believe this, as a Catholic priest. Replete with Roman collar and biblical quotes. Only here, he’s the muscular guy that fills a leadership void when the swanky cruise ship doesn’t simply sink, but turns upside down! It seems that by going literally belly up, the ship has developed a very large air pocket. The unfortunate passengers need to climb up (or is it down?) a gigantic chandelier, in order to survive. Their trials and tribulations, of which there are many, are shared by some great character actors, including Ernie Borgnine and Shelley Winters. Sure, there’s a lot of sentiment, but the action scenes are great.
>Ship of Fools: Based on the novel by Katherine Ann Porter, the drama takes place on a cruise ship wending it’s way from Mexico, bound for Germany, circa the mid-1930s. Narrated throughout with pure irony by the very talented Michael Dunn, a dwarf, the story tells the tale of a variety of passengers and crew; their flaws and failings. Yet, and in a bittersweet way, their hopes and aspirations for the future, as well. Film aficionados will readily applaud this all-star cast. Lee Marvin, Oskar Werner, Simone Signoret, Jose Ferrar, Vivian Leigh, and the very young George Segal and Elizabeth Ashley. The flamenco dancing of Jose Greco and his troupe add to the passions of some of the passengers. The dialogue is excellent, with both naivete and cynicism so evenly mixed as to create an interesting, albeit tragic atmosphere. In a way, I suppose that we all ride this ship…
So, if you think that life’s unfair and that the summer sucks because you’re stuck at home, just consider how lucky you really are. After all, you might well be a passenger on any of the above cruises. So sit back, pop open a cold one, and enjoy the msifortunes of others!