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Mister Roberts (1955)

Unrated | | Comedy, Drama, War | 4 December 1955 (Japan)
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Comedy-drama about life on a not particularly important ship of the US Navy during WW2.

Writers:

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

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

4 December 1955 (Japan)  »

Also Known As:

Keine Zeit für Heldentum  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Gross:

$21,200,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

,  »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

(WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Henry Fonda wrote in his 1982 autobiography, My Life, that he believed that as good as the movie is, the play is even better. See more »

Goofs

The Reluctant is a Camano-class cargo ship an AKL type ship. It was controlled by the army. And crewed by the United States Coast Guard. Not the United States Navy as shown in this film. See more »

Quotes

Doug Roberts: [Pulver is expecting the company of a woman. Roberts reads out the embroidered words on one of Pulver's pillows in dismay] Tonight or never. Compliments of The American Harvester Company. We plough deep while others sleep.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Henry Fonda: The Man and His Movies (1982) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
From tedium to hilarity and nobility
4 July 2002 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Watching this again many years after I first saw it, I expected to be disappointed. After all, the great films of our youth sometimes turn out to be something less than we had imagined. But Mister Roberts does not disappoint. This is one of the gems of the American cinema, a poignant comedy featuring a multitudinously clever and delightful script by Frank Nugent and Joshua Logan from a novel by Thomas Heggen made into a play by Logan and Heggen that ran for many years on Broadway. The movie features sterling performances from Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and Jack Lemmon. Fonda is particularly brilliant in the kind of role from which legends are made. (He also played the part on Broadway.) You can take all your John Wayne classics and toss them overboard with the Captain's palm tree. Henry Fonda as Lt (j.g.) Doug Roberts, cargo officer of the USS Reluctant, shines forth as the noblest hero of them all. He is a quiet, strong, fair, courageous man in a story sure to mist up your eyes even if you're watching it for the twentieth time.

Jack Lemmon won a supporting Oscar for his performance as Ensign Pulver, a kind of lazy, but slyly resourceful Walter Mitty type who talks a great game but never follows through... James Cagney is the Captain, a sour, resentful man who mercilessly badgers Mister Roberts and grossly neglects the morale of his crew. He is just perfect. The way he bellows "Mister Roberts!" or way he trembles out the line, "Mister...Mister...this time you've gone too far" delights the audience. William Powell, in his last film, plays the ship's wise and ever diplomatic doc with graceful precision.

Marty (1955) starring Ernest Borgnine, a kind of politically correct (for its time) love story about ordinary folk, won the Academy's honor for best picture in 1956, the year Mister Roberts was nominated. Henry Fonda, in perhaps his most beloved and certainly one of his finest performances, was not even nominated. Incidentally, Hollywood legend John Ford directed, but fell ill and Mervyn LeRoy--no slouch himself (e.g., The Bad Seed, 1956; No Time for Sergeants, 1958, etc.)--finished up.

There are a number of memorable scenes in the film, the kind recalled with delight. My favorite involves the crew, their binoculars and the nurses. I also loved the careful concocting of the "scotch whiskey" by Doc. The weekly letters requesting a transfer, the Hoot Gibson films we (thankfully) never see, the ever worshipful palm tree, Pulver's marbles in a tobacco tin that he shakes in Roberts's face, vowing to prove his manhood by putting them in the captain's overbin, his "firecracker," his "If I could be with you/One hour tonight/To do the things I might/I'm telling you true/I'd be anything but blue," the giddy nurses, and the infamous liberty are other unforgettable bits. But more than anything, what makes this a great movie, are the indelible characters so very true to our experience, and how nicely they meld and contrast.

This is, along with From Here to Eternity, Das Boot, The Bridge on the River Kwai, The Caine Mutiny, Stalag 17, and Twelve O'Clock High, among my favorite movies to come out of World War II. What sets Mister Roberts apart is the humor born of the boredom, frustration, and tedium that most truly characterizes life in the service. In this regard I recall a saying that goes something like this: "War is filled with long stretches of boredom punctuated by moments of absolute terror." The crew of the Reluctant got only the boredom.

(Note: Over 500 of my movie reviews are now available in my book "Cut to the Chaise Lounge or I Can't Believe I Swallowed the Remote!" Get it at Amazon!)


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