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Mister Roberts (1955)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, War | 30 July 1955 (USA)
Trailer
4:07 | Trailer

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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 »
Reviews
Won 1 Oscar. Another 2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Director: John Ford
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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

Joshua Logan, who directed and co-wrote the Broadway production, was brought in to redirect some sequences which the producers felt that original director John Ford had captured ineffectively before he was taken off the project. Logan was credited as co-writer instead of co-director because it was felt that having three names listed as director would look silly in the credits. Both Logan and Henry Fonda felt that the film version did not have anywhere near the quality of the stage production. See more »

Goofs

As Ensign Pulver tries to climb the stairs after blowing up the laundry room, you hear him calling out to someone and whistling at the same time. See more »

Quotes

Lt. j.g. Douglas A. 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 »

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 »

Alternate Versions

Television and the standard VHS prints substitute a different march that is played over the loudspeakers during the scene where Henry Fonda is listening to the VE Day celebrations and throws the captain's palm tree overboard. Also eliminated is the voice-over of Fonda humming the march as he walks up the gang ladder leaving the scene. See more »


Soundtracks

Army Air Corps Song
(uncredited)
Written by Robert Crawford
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Kind of like a comedic version of "The Caine Mutiny".
25 October 2010 | by MartinHaferSee all my reviews

"Mr. Roberts" was originally a Broadway play and it was amazingly successful--running for well over 1000 performances. While today this may not seem so amazing, back in the late 40s and 50s, this was almost unheard of and kept its leading man, Henry Fonda, very busy. Oddly, however, when it came to filming this story, the studios fought the original director (John Ford) because they didn't want Fonda. While he was arguably too old for the part, the studio's first choice (Marlon Brando) seems today ludicrous. It's ironic that although Ford insisted on Fonda for the film, Ford himself would be taken off the project due to his totally unprofessional and sadistic treatment of Fonda.

The film is set aboard a very unimportant cargo vessel stationed in the Pacific in the latter portion of WWII. It's Captain (James Cagney) is a dictatorial little tyrant who seems to enjoy making the crew miserable--probably due to his own inadequacies. His first officer is Mr. Roberts--a man frustrated to serve under such a man and because he desperately wants a transfer to a ship that has some chance of seeing action. Other important characters on the ship are Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon)--a wimpy upstart who talks big but refuses to do anything as well as the Doc (William Powell)--a sympathetic but passive ear for people on board. Pulver is clearly intended as comic relief and spends much of the film hiding from the Captain--who, after fourteen months aboard, doesn't even recognize Pulver as a member of his crew! And, for this memorable role, Lemmon received the Best Supporting Actor Oscar.

As for the film, it lacks the excitement of many war films and often has to do with the mundane and petty activities on such a ship. In many ways, it plays like "Operation Petticoat"--but with even less action and a bit less comedy. It can also be compared to "The Caine Mutiny", though this film is definitely grittier and totally unfunny compared to "Mr. Roberts". In "Mr. Roberts", most of the film is a power struggle between this second in command and the Captain. The crew love Roberts and cannot stand the Captain--and it's easy to see why. The result is generally funny but with some very poignant moments (such as the very downbeat ending). Not a great film...but very, very good.

Reading IMDb's trivia further solidifies in my mind that although John Ford was a masterful director, as a human being...he wasn't. If it's true that he slugged Henry Fonda, it would fit in with a lot of the information I read about him. Despite today being admired as a great man, he was a horrible person. Apparently, he was so nasty and dictatorial with his family as well. Try doing more than watching the glowing documentaries on the gifted but very flawed man--it makes for fascinating and rather sad reading.


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