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Mister Roberts (1955)

Not Rated | | Comedy , Drama , War | 30 July 1955 (USA)
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In the waning days of World War II, the United States Navy cargo ship Reluctant and her crew are stationed in the "backwater" areas of the Pacific Ocean. Trouble ensues when the crew members are granted liberty.

Writers:

Frank S. Nugent (screenplay) (as Frank Nugent), Joshua Logan (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:
Henry Fonda ... Lt. j.g. Douglas A. Roberts
James Cagney ... The Captain
William Powell ... Doc
Jack Lemmon ... Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver
Betsy Palmer ... Lt. Ann Girard
Ward Bond ... Chief Petty Officer Dowdy
Philip Carey ... Mannion (as Phil Carey)
Nick Adams ... Reber
Perry Lopez ... Rodrigues
Ken Curtis ... Dolan
Robert Roark ... Insigna
Harry Carey Jr. ... Stefanowski
Patrick Wayne ... Bookser (as Pat Wayne)
Frank Aletter ... Gerhart
Tige Andrews ... 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:

The Six-Year Stage Smash on the Screen! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Keine Zeit für Heldentum See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$21,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros.,Orange See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (RCA Sound Recording)

Color:

Color (WarnerColor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.55 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The original Broadway production by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan opened at the Alvin Theater on February 18, 1948, ran for 1157 performances and won the 1948 Tony Award for the Best Play. See more »

Goofs

When Mr. Roberts is talking with Doc about getting him off the ship to a nearby hospital, the doctor has a cigarette in his folded hands as he is lying on the bed. In some shots the cigarette is missing, and when Doc gets up from the bed he is holding a small glass with no cigarette in sight. See more »

Quotes

Lt. j.g. Douglas A. Roberts: Doc, he lies in his sack all day long, bores me silly with great, moronic plots against the captain. He's never carried out one of them.
Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver: I haven't, huh?
Lt. j.g. Douglas A. Roberts: No, Frank, you haven't. What ever happened to those marbles you were gonna put in the captain's overhead so they'd roll around all night and keep him awake?
Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver: Now you've gone too far. Now you've asked for it.
[pulls out a box]
Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver: What does that look like? Five marbles. Got another one in my pocket. Six marbles. I'm looking for marbles all day long!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The seven top-billed actors listed in the opening credits are not listed with the other players in the end credits. See more »

Connections

Featured in James Cagney: Top of the World (1992) See more »

Soundtracks

The Stars and Stripes Forever
(uncredited)
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 Scaramouche2004See 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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