7.7/10
14,917
93 user 28 critic

Mister Roberts (1955)

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

Videos

Photos

Edit

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)
Learn more

More Like This 

Ensign Pulver (1964)
Comedy | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6/10 X  

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 one very big case of appendicitis.

Director: Joshua Logan
Stars: Robert Walker Jr., Burl Ives, Walter Matthau
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

A disillusioned aging decent man and once proud WWII veteran is dealing with midlife crisis as well as a tough moral dilemma. If he wants his small near-bankrupt clothing company to survive, he has two days to let go of his shaken morals.

Director: John G. Avildsen
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Jack Gilford, Laurie Heineman
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

When a U.S. Naval captain shows signs of mental instability that jeopardizes the ship, the first officer relieves him of command and faces court martial for mutiny.

Director: Edward Dmytryk
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, José Ferrer, Van Johnson
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A fictionalized account of the early life of the American president as a young lawyer facing his greatest court case.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver
Certificate: Passed Biography | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

The life of the renowned musical composer, playwright, actor, dancer, and singer George M. Cohan.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: James Cagney, Joan Leslie, Walter Huston
Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

An alcoholic marries a young woman, who he systematically addicts to booze, so they can share his "passion" together.

Director: Blake Edwards
Stars: Jack Lemmon, Lee Remick, Charles Bickford
Biography | Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

A biography of Navy flier-turned-screenwriter Frank W. "Spig" Wead.

Director: John Ford
Stars: John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara, Dan Dailey
Biography | Drama | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

The Earps battle the Clantons at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Henry Fonda, Linda Darnell, Victor Mature
The Informer (1935)
Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

In 1922, an Irish rebel informs on his friend, then feels doom closing in.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Victor McLaglen, Heather Angel, Preston Foster
Drama | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

Newlyweds Gil and Lana Martin try to establish a farm in the Mohawk Valley but are menaced by Indians and Tories as the Revolutionary War begins.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Claudette Colbert, Henry Fonda, Edna May Oliver
Mogambo (1953)
Adventure | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

On a Kenyan safari, white hunter Victor Marswell has a love triangle with seductive American socialite Eloise Kelly and anthropologist Donald Nordley's cheating wife Linda.

Director: John Ford
Stars: Clark Gable, Grace Kelly, Ava Gardner
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  

A tycoon hires a tutor to teach his lover proper etiquette, with unexpected results.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Judy Holliday, William Holden, Broderick Crawford
Edit

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:

All the Uproarious Fun of the Smash Broadway Play! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Tige Andrews was in the original Broadway cast as a member of the ensemble (not as "Wiley," his role in the film). Besides Henry Fonda, he is the only actor who appeared in both the Broadway and film casts. See more »

Goofs

When Doc corks the bottle of alcohol, the cork appears out of nowhere. See more »

Quotes

Lt. j.g. Douglas A. Roberts: Frank, you asked me what I thought of you. Well, I'll tell you. The day you finish one thing you started out to do, the day you actually *put* those marbles in the Captain's overhead, and then have the guts to knock on his door and say, "Captain, *I* put those marbles there," that's the day I'll have some respect for you. That's the day I'll look up to you as a man. Okay?
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 »

Connections

Referenced in As Long As I'm Famous (2020) See more »

Soundtracks

If I Could Be with You One Hour Tonight
(uncredited)
Music by James P. Johnson
Words by Henry Creamer
Published by Warner Bros. Inc. (ASCAP)
Sung, hummed and whistled by Jack Lemmon throughout film (uncredited)
See more »

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.


59 of 64 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 93 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

30 July 1955 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Mister Roberts See more »

Edit

Box Office

Gross USA:

$21,200,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Orange Productions 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 »

Contribute to This Page

Your Next Binge Watch Awaits

Looking for something to watch? Check out IMDb's "What to Watch" series to find out what's really worth watching.



Recently Viewed