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Mister Roberts (1955)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, War | 4 December 1955 (Japan)
4:07 | Trailer

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Comedy-drama about life on a not particularly important ship of the US Navy during WW2.


(screenplay) (as Frank Nugent), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Mannion (as Phil Carey)
Robert Roark ...
Bookser (as Pat Wayne)
Wiley (as Tiger Andrews)


Mister Roberts is aboard a US cargo ship, working in the Pacific during the Second World War. He'd do anything to leave the quiet of the ship to join in the "action". Trouble is, the captain of the ship, is a bit of a tyrant, and isn't willing to sign Roberts' transfer requests. Also on board is Ensign Pulver, who avoids work as best he can, whilst living off the riches of his buying and selling. Roberts and the crew are in constant battle, even over the smallest of disagreements. Written by Rob Hartill

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Now . . . Hilariously on the Screen ! See more »


Comedy | Drama | War


Unrated | See all certifications »




Release Date:

4 December 1955 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Keine Zeit für Heldentum  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$21,200,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Henry Fonda won the 1948 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "Mister Roberts" for playing the title role which he recreated in the movie. See more »


Just before Roberts leaves the ship Dolan tells him the Captain has had a new palm tree dug up and placed a 24-hour guard around it. But when Pulver later goes to throw the palm overboard, there is no guard anywhere near it. See more »


Doug Roberts: I looked down from our bridge and saw our captain's palm tree! Our trophy for superior achievement! The Admiral John J. Finchley award for delivering more toothpaste and toilet paper than any other Navy cargo ship in the safe area of the Pacific.
See more »


Featured in Precious Images (1986) See more »


The Stars and Stripes Forever
Written by John Philip Sousa
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

"Dong Dong, Ding Ding or Ding Dong"? Either way this film rings my bell.
30 May 2004 | by (Coventry, England) – See all my reviews

Take a run down cargo ship with a motley crew, throw in a pacific island paradise and sign on board four of the biggest Hollywood heavyweights ever, then you are bound to have winning motion picture which stands the test of time.

Henry Fonda re-creates his Broadway role as Lt.Douglas Roberts a navy cargo officer, desperately aching to be transfered from what is nothing more than a floating warehouse, to a destroyer and a chance to get into the fighting.

James Cagney in what is arguably the best of his later roles, plays the selfish and ambitious Captain, who knows that Roberts' work is the key to his own success. With this motive in mind he blocks all of Roberts' requests and makes his life as miserable as possible into the bargain.

It is this story line that provides most of the drama albeit played with a touch of comic frivolity. The true comedy however is provided by Jack Lemmon as the good natured but lazy Ensign, Frank Thurlough Pulver.

Lemmon was a relative newcomer to the movies but none of that seemed evident in his performance. He held his own against three of the best in the business and was awarded an Oscar for his efforts.

However, the highlight of this film for me is the great William Powell as the aging and quick witted Doc.. His comic timing and sophisticated presence was an invaluable asset to any film he made and Mister Roberts is no exception.

Whether he is wise cracking with the crew at sick call or making illegal scotch with his shipmates, Powell steals every scene in which he appears. My personal favourite is when he is called to the captains cabin....ON THE DOUBLE, and he is seen casually strolling slowly and carefree smoking a cigarette, almost as if he was on the Park Avenue of the 1930's where he had made his name.

Cagney's scenes with Lemmon are hilarious. He was a considerate actor and at times you can almost feel the space that he gave Lemmon in order for him to shine. Also the scene in which Fonda confronts Cagney, to ensure the crews liberty, is expertly acted. A must see on the newly released DVD (with commentary by Jack Lemmon himself) is a clip from a 1955 Ed Sullivan show where Fonda and Cagney re-create the scene live and the acting cannot be faulted.

In more than just plot, this film has high points and low points. The high point was the welcome celluloid return of Henry Fonda after an absence of eight years whilst he played Mister Roberts on the New York stage. The low point being, that this was to be William Powell's final movie venture. He had retired in 1953 after How to Marry a Millionaire, but was lured back for "Roberts" by an overwhelming script. But this was to be a final return and I think as swan songs go William Powell indeed had the best.

It was also a troubled production with two directors and constant fall outs with Fonda over the adaptation. To Fonda, Mister Roberts was a work of art he didn't want to see defaced, and he argued bitterly over changes from the original format. Yet the theatre going public and the cinema going public were two different species and the changes were needed.

They must have found the right balance however because we are presented with a flawless motion picture with equal amounts of drama and humour, happiness and sadness and anger and goodwill. This film has the ability to touch everyone on at least one level.

A must-see film with unequaled performances. Recommended.

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