Perfect Films for Every Occasion, Holiday, Mood, Ordeal and Whim
Selections from the book

Cruise Vacation Films

A mode of luxury travel that ain’t what it used to be – the picture we have of Fitzgeraldian heroes wearing tuxes on deck, finding love by ocean moonlight, and chasing wacky stowaways has long ago given way to a middle-class retirement crowd, whose agenda generally does not include adventure, romance, comedy and crazy drinking. Which is why, if you’re taking the dive, you need a cinematic appetizer, to edge you toward the old dream.

Selections from Flickipedia. For more movie recommendations in this category, please consult the book.

scene from pirates of the caribbean

Monkey Business (1931) The first and greatest stowaways-on-a-cruise-ship-comedy feature, this Marx Brothers farce is unbridled, high-octane silliness, but everyone is dressed to the Gatsby nines (except the gangsters, a newly popular archetype in 1931), and the child-like experience of simply running amok amid luxury-consuming adults is infectious. You might have fun on your voyage, but not this much.

China Seas (1935) A voyage to Singapore in a typhoon might not sound appealing but if Clark Gable is the captain, women will be stampeding the gangplank. He’s already spoken for by shore-leave loosey goosey Jean Harlow, with the cast-iron mouth and marshmallow heart. Her brash talk soon has the typhoon brewing on board as well and he gives her the deep freeze and betroths himself to a British aristocrat. Shipboard shenanigans include an attack by Malay pirates, redeeming heroics, boozy sing-a-longs with the officers and a drinking game called “Admiral Puff Puff Puff,” which is probably fun even if you’re not playing with Jean Harlow in a clingy dress. The high China seas, by way of the MGM studio water tanks, knock the ship about and put the tough-talking fun in a pressure cooker.

The Imposters (1998) Since Monkey Business, the luxury-ship-stowaway comedy has been more or less in remission, and so Stanley Tucci, writing and directing and starring, concocted this happy vaudeville, about two lousy thespians (Tucci and Oliver Platt), accidentally aboard among European anarchists, spies, grieving ex-royalty, a pompous theater star (Alfred Molina), a suicidal nightclub singer named Happy Franks (Steve Buscemi), and sundry other broadly played types (including a Nazi-esque ship officer triumphantly personified by Campbell Scott). It’s so unpretentious and dizzy the entire cast conga-lines right off the set at the end to boppin’ tango music.

Pirates of the Carribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006) Ripe blockbuster cheese, but one that packs in a cannibal tribe, a voodoo queen, a ship-consuming monster cephalopod, the Flying Dutchman, Davy Jones’s locker, Davy Jones himself (Bill Nighy, with a captivating squid-puss), a sea port tavern brawl, the infamous East India Company (as the ultimate corporate villain), and a cannon-blasting sea battle. Plus Johnny Depp, pounding so hard on his Keith Richards imitation that Richards was cast as his father in the sequel.

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