Life becomes so harried after Ensign Pulver's prank, he and the Captain are swept off deck during a storm, ending up on a tropical island, a group of ship wrecked nurses, dancing natives and 1 very big case of appendicitis.
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1945, on an old cargo ship somewhere deep in the Pacific ocean: Captain Morton strives to become commander, so he demands the maximum quality of work from his crew, without granting them any freedom or favors - ignoring that they're thousand of miles away from the front. In one word: he drives his crew crazy. They are near mutiny, but no-one dares to do the first step. Until Ensign Pulver plays a prank on the captain that triggers fatal consequences... Written by
Tom Zoerner <Tom.Zoerner@informatik.uni-erlangen.de>
Opening credits: This story takes place in the waning days of World War II aboard a navy cargo ship operating in the back areas of the Pacific. See more »
Bruno is referred to as being a Seaman First Class, when his uniform insignia is clearly that of a Petty Officer Second Class. See more »
I don't want a crew of whining sissies with table manners. I want MEN!
You've GOT men! That's your problem! If we were in combat it would be different. These men left their homes to FIGHT, but they never got into the war! They're in limbo, Captain, trapped between heaven and hell on a floating 10-cent store!
You "college" officers make me PUKE!
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If ever there was a great movie that did NOT cry out for a sequel, it was "Mister Roberts," with its gruff, poignant, perfect ending. A bad sequel like "Ensign Pulver" is particularly disappointing.
The setting here is the same as in the earlier classic -- a scroungy old Navy vessel on the fringes of the Pacific Theater late in World War II. This movie is built around Ensign Frank Pulver, the sidekick of Mister Roberts in the original movie. Unfortunately, Robert Walker Jr., who plays Pulver here, can't match the original screen Pulver, Jack Lemmon. It's almost like they're playing different people.
That's the main problem, I think, too much tinkering with familiar characters. The focus of "Mister Roberts" was the battle of wits and wills between the idealistic Roberts (Henry Fonda) and the embittered captain (James Cagney). But in this film, the captain (now played by Burl Ives) finds himself psychoanalyzed by Pulver. Cagney's captain was hard to like but easy to understand, while Ives' version is as complicated as a Tennessee Williams character.
And how about Doc? In "Mister Roberts," he was portrayed by an older actor, William Powell, in one of his last roles. A counterpoint to the captain, Doc was a man who had grown wise, not cynical, with age. Walter Matthau, though a fine actor, is a much younger Doc in this one, and one who's not particularly wise. He's just another madcap guy in a madcap crew.
"Mister Roberts" had a lot of wonderful laughs, but ultimately it was dead serious about World War II. If you've seen it, you know what I mean. But in "Ensign Pulver," the greatest conflict in history is just an excuse for humdrum hijinks. It's really too bad.
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