Ensign Pulver (1964) Poster

(1964)

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5/10
sequel to Mr. Roberts
pgapgapga19 July 2005
While certainly not the movie of the year(or any year, for that matter), this follow-up to Mr. Roberts was a lot of fun to watch as an adolescent, and later as an adult. It is a totally different movie than Roberts, so don't expect the same caliber or even the same genre-it's just fun to watch! The dialogue is clever, though the characters maybe a little cardboard. Matthau is great as "Doc", Ives as the evil captain, and Walker as the grandiose-yet-cowardly, slingshot and marble carrying ensign. I enjoyed seeing the familiar faces of the many character actors whom you'll quickly recognize (if you are of sufficient age or TV exposure).
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10/10
Not A Remake of Mister Roberts
mack-292 April 2004
I have just purchased the VHS tape of this movie and I enjoyed it very much. Mainly for the performance of Robert Walker Jr.

I would like to point out that "Ensign Pulver" is not a remake of "Mister Roberts". Ensign Pulver is the same ship and same characters as Mr. Roberts only with different actors in the leads.

Burl Ives continues the role of Capt. first played by James Cagney. Robert Walker Jr. continues the role of Ensign Pulver first played by Jack Lemmon. Walter Matthau continues the role of Doc first played by William Powell.

Early in the movie, Doc notes that it has been only a few weeks since they found out about the death of Doug, Mr. Roberts(Henry Fonda). Pulver receives a package from someone who was on the ship where Mr. Roberts died. It is medical books that Mr. Roberts wanted Pulver to have because he knew he would like the dirty pictures.

This movie is much more of a comedy than "Roberts" and is alot of fun to watch.

Also in the crew you can spot George Lindsey, "Goober" from the Andy Griffith show, future TV game show host Peter Marshall, a skinny James Coco and a very young James Farentino.

Too bad this movie is not on DVD. Yet.
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Making this sequel was really going overboard
gerdeen-11 October 2010
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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Funny.......but not as serious as "Mr. Roberts"
fluna103014 December 2005
Warning: Spoilers
OK, OK ! So I have heard that Ensign Pulver did not match up to Mr. Roberts. Nevertheless, I still found Ensign Pulver to be entertaining as well as funny. Ensign Pulver takes place at the near end of World War II, with a boat crew ready to throw it's captain overboard just to have some "breathing room" & some liberties. Just when the crew is about to blow a gasket, along comes Ensign Pulver with a "spiked" projectile & sling-shot with the captains name on it! As if things couldn't get worse, the captain is washed overboard during a storm....and of all persons, Ensign Pulver goes after him.....& ends up saving the crabby (later on with "frogjuice" very crocked & mellow)captains life. As I said in the beginning, there have been many things said about this movie......that it wasn't worth being a sequel to Mr. Roberts & the mediocre cast. In my opinion (for what it's worth), I found Ensign Pulver to be "more" entertaining & not as serious.....more funny & human. As of this writing, I have yet to see this movie in CinemaScope.....as it was originally released. Also, the cast in Ensign Pulver is much better & funnier. Enjoy!!
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very enjoyable,back in the old days getting at your funny bone!
castertroy0121 July 2002
I know a lot of people try to make sense of this movie compared to Mr Roberts but I believe it was the Directors intent to just make it a fun layback at the drive-in movie to escape the reality we were facing back in the 60's Walter Matthau and Robert walker put together is dam funny and Burl Ives playes a dam mean captain even though he was the nicest guy in the world,I remember the movie at the drive in and I was 6years old and never forgot the movie cause it kept me laughing and I remember Mom and Dad bursting out laughing!just remember it was just ment to take you out of everyday life and bring you into a kind a fun world..and for a change you could get a chance to see life in a fun way..just sit back for a old fun ride!!
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1/10
This Is Supposed To Be A Comedy?
bigverybadtom14 January 2017
The DVD box billed this as a comedy...but it was hardly funny. Yes, you could laugh at a martinet ship captain for forbidding his crew to sing after he catches them singing a mocking song, or making an officer throw smuggled booze overboard. But there was nothing funny about his refusing compassionate leave to a sailor whose 18-month-old daughter had just died to allow him to attend the funeral. We could laugh at a petty tyrant, but not someone with no human compassion at all.

The movie was a sequel to "Mister Roberts", which was far superior and had humor but did not lose sight of the seriousness of the war situation everyone was in. This was just a wretched attempt at comedy that I had to turn off after fifteen minutes. There were a number of major acting stars, as well as actors who would become big stars later. But the best performers couldn't possibly have made this movie work.
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6/10
Business As Usual Now That Mister Roberts Is Gone
bkoganbing11 August 2010
Minus Mister Roberts the rest of the characters from that classic play have returned to this sequel that presents Ensign Pulver as the leading character. This film makes the assumption that you have seen Mister Roberts so you know who the main characters are and their personalities before you even watch Ensign Pulver.

Playing the roles of Ensign Pulver, Captain Morton, and Doc are Robert Walker, Jr., Burl Ives, and Walter Matthau. Walker is far more a callow youth than Jack Lemmon was in Mister Roberts. After that show of bravado where Pulver through the Captain's prize palm tree overboard, it's once again business as usual with the tyrannical captain going out of his way to be the meanest man on earth running this navy cargo ship, miles away from the action in the Pacific theater.

At first there's a lot more service type comedy than there was in Mister Roberts, but things do take a serious turn when Pulver and the Captain go overboard during a typhoon. Many days on a rubber raft and then on a tropic island make the captain open up and you get some insight why he's the nasty fellow he is.

Some other key roles are Tommy Sands who plays a sailor looking to get leave because his wife just lost their baby and Gerald S. O'Loughlin who gets temporary command of the USS Reluctant when Ives goes missing. In fact Ensign Pulver makes an addition to Mister Roberts in that the ship we see has a full complement of officers other than the four main characters from Mister Roberts. Look for Jack Nicholson in a small role as radioman Dolan and as per the civil rights era, Al Freeman integrates the crew which was not the case in Mister Roberts.

Walker gets a love interest in Millie Perkins an army nurse who sees him for the shiftless character he is and her supervisor is Kay Medford who has a very droll part.

Ensign Pulver is not a classic like Mister Roberts, but it is an amusing service comedy and holds up well today.
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1/10
Abominable
JohnLeeT25 May 2014
Perhaps if this film had no connection at all to the superb Mister Roberts, it might rate three stars for being simply a terrible comedy misfire of stunning proportions. That could be forgiven, dismissed, and easily overlooked. However, this film exists only as a cynical effort to cash-in on the success of a treasured creative triumph which had been emotionally embraced by audiences worldwide. There is but one redeeming factor in this entire abomination of a sequel and that is the presence of Walter Matthau. He comes off well although the lifeless mess of a script gives him little to work with. The rest of the ensemble is a conglomeration of miscasting (the usually excellent Ives), actors lacking any talent whatsoever (Tommy Sands?!), and the completely charmless, irritating, and horrendously awful Robert Walker, Jr. He alone is enough to sink this stinking scow and was better suited to portraying psychopaths on TV when some delusional casting director actually believed Walker, Jr. would be just right for some doomed police procedural. While it is somewhat interesting to see young future stars at the start of their careers, the performances are really pretty bad and all of these now well-known actors were fortunate to have survived this wreck, let alone going on to win multiple awards, appearing in some of the most successful television programs/films ever produced, and earning many millions in cash. Besides a soulless script, Ensign Pulver was personally assassinated by director Josh Logan, acting without mercy and with a vicious abandon that is painful to witness. Even a gentle soul like Mr. Roberts himself might well have taken some drastic action if he had seen the ruthless damage inflicted upon this rusting tub of unpleasantness and would have desperately deflected Logan's grim pattern of relentless torpedoes. Alas, those who saw the original Mr. Roberts will most likely find this ghastly garbage barge a heartbreaking insult to the source material if not an outright greedy criminal assault upon a beloved classic.
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My name is pulver, and i liked this film.
gabbogabe200026 January 2004
When i saw this movie for sale at a used video store, i immediately flipped out due to the title of the film including my last name. i then bought it watched it, and enjoyed through and through. walter matthau was at his usual comic genius, and the cameo by jack nicholson was great. recommended
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A decent 60's light comedy
ghostshirt200029 May 2011
Acceptance of 'Ensign Pulver' for what it is gets hampered by dumb Producer choice to cash in on 'Mr. Roberts.' In pacing and overall tone 'Ensign Pulver' has much in common with many WW2 themed light comedies made in the mid-1960's.

This movie is worth watching in our current era first with an understanding of what it meant to be at the time; a mildly distracting 90 minutes of celluloid. It's not bad really.

Second, the movie is worth watching by students of film/culture to note how moral ambiguity influenced 1960's Hollywood. In 'Mr. Roberts' Cagney has a great scene about why he hates 'college boys' yet there's nothing in the film that treats his character with sympathy.

In 'Ensign Pulver' it seems pains are taken to give the Captain a back story so he comes across as a scarred victim of an unfortunate childhood.
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major lame-o
march9hare19 October 2004
We remember the hype about this film : "You'll be Pulver-ized with laughter!!!" Umm. . .NOT!! This seadog of a movie has none of the wit or pathos of "Mister Roberts", it's progenitor. Burl Ives does his level best to save this loser, but his efforts are torpedoed by Robert Walker Jr as Pulver, a pale imitation of Jack Lemmon. For our money, Walker was at his best as a barely recognizable hippie in "Easy Rider", or possibly as a product demonstrator in toy commercials for Milton-Bradley, but never, ever as a junior officer in the Navy. Or the Army either, for that matter. This film was billed as a comedy/drama, but fails miserably as either. The jokes aren't funny, and the alleged drama is hopelessly contrived, such as when Walker and Ives, mortal enemies, are adrift together in a small boat. Oh, can't you just reach out and touch the tension? This movie is essentially an endurance test, and should be required viewing for prospective telemarketers. You, on the other hand, should avoid it at all costs.
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3/10
Lacklustre Sequel
screenman3 September 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Not even Walter Matthau's presence could save this tacky, lacklustre sequel of the 1950's movie 'Mr Roberts'. The original starred Henry Fonda, James Cagney, and featured Jack Lemon as Ensigh Pulver. Non of them feature in this sequel and it pretty well founders before you very eyes.

It just doesn't flow like the original. The gags are contrived and the cast have an appearance of knowing that they are competing against a successful precursor and try a little to hard. The result is a bit hammy.

Not recommended.
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4/10
no Pulver-ization here
capricorn927 August 2007
The only thing this film has going for it is catching all the great actors, at the start of their careers) that are in smaller roles as the sailors on board - James Farentino, a skinny James Coco, Larry Hagman, George Lindsay, Dick Gautier and even a young Jack Nicholson! OK Walter Matthau is worth watching in anything he does, but that is all. The rest of the film is another Josh Logan homo-erotic mess. Yes, it is. He seems to have spent more time on the scenes where the sailors get together and have fun dancing in their underwear, whacking each other on the butt, running around with no shirts and skimpy shorts and there is even a scene where one sailor, as they sit and listen to the radio, has one arm draped over another guys leg. The rest of the story is like the boat they are on - old, rusty and goes no where. The worst is Robert Walker(who should have kept the Jr after his name)who does his best to do a perfect Jack Lemmon impersonation and that gets irritating as you wonder why they didn't get Jack himself. He probably read the script.
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2/10
Very Poor Remake of Mister Roberts
traceyames172 October 2002
I had the unfortunate experience of watching this film today, home sick from work with the flu. From the start of the movie, I marvelled at the plot being so close to that of Mister Roberts, made some 9 years earlier in 1955. Captain Moreton (Burl Ives) is the captain of a cargo ship in 1945, somewhere in the Pacific. His motley crew just hate his hard-nosed manner, with no give-and-take, no leave and no freedom. His ambition is to become a Commander. Ensign Frank Pulver (Robert Walker Jr) plays a joke that badly misfires and somehow, both men are overboard and spend their next few weeks together in a rubber dinghy. On running aground on a sandy beach, Ensign Parker renews aquaintances with a nurse he met earlier in the film. At the same time, Captain Morton falls ill and needs an appendicectomy. The two are reunited with their ship to find the Captain is now a Commander. The crew are so dismayed at the thought of having the past come back and haunt them again. Frank Pulver has a confidential talk with the Commander and the next day we see the Commander leave the ship for the last time. The plot and acting was very second rate. The only time Burl Ives realised his true acting talents, was just before the end when he had an emotional man to man talk with Ensign Pulver. This was close to his best when playing Bid Daddy in Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. An interesting notable came out when reviewing the cast of the movie. Burl Ives was a noted actor back then in 1964 and his co-lead Robert Walker was not really heard of. He never went on to become a household name. Other actors in the movie who were absolute nobody's back in 1964 were Walter Matthau (Doc), Larry Hagman who played Billings, and Jack Nicholson who played Dolan. Their faces were instantly recognisable and some 40 years later, these actors are now household names. Surely it can't have been the making of this movie who hurtled these three actors into stardom. My advice is if you are feeling sick and this movie is rerun, don't watch it as it will make you sicker. 2/10 max.
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1/10
Logan betrayed his own vision
riogarhed27 May 2017
Not everything in the film version of "Mr. Roberts" avoided the redolence of the mid-1950s--particularly the cornball aspects of a lot of "service comedy" then. Still."Mister Roberts" was made when World War II was not a distant memory, and some fidelity to that remembered collective experience is respected even in the vein of comedy. "Ensign Pulver" is perhaps not much more broad, but it is much more crude and is no longer interested in capturing the sensibility of the period in which it is set. Instead it panders to the period in which it was made, as if to say the gold standard of comedy then was found on TV in "Get Smart" and "Batman." In short, its sensibility was what was then called Camp. This is understandable except for the fact that the director and collaborator on the original material, Joshua Logan, directed "Ensign Pulver" and should have had a stake in staying true to the impulses behind the creation of this story and these characters. After all, Henry Fonda, having spent years as Mr. Roberts onstage, fought his old pal John Ford (and got a punch in the mouth for it) during the early filming of "Mister Roberts" in order to uphold the integrity of Logan's vision. But Logan himself in "Ensign Pulver" seems to have thrown that integrity overboard with the blessed palm tree.
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3/10
Leaves a bad taste in the mouth
eightx1016 August 2000
The movie is a misguided sequel to the comedy classic "Mister Roberts." I warn anyone who has seen that movie to avoid this travesty.

What makes is bad? Well, all the seriousness of its predecessor has been stripped. Plus, the cast is mediocre. (Who could replace Jack Lemon and James Cagney?) This one is bad, bad, bad, though Jack Nicholson fans note that said actor has a smallish part.
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5/10
No More Mister Roberts
wes-connors29 May 2011
After the passing of "Mister Roberts" (1955) starring Henry Fonda, the surviving characters from the older film act out the closing of World War II aboard a Navy ship. Taking over the Jack Lemmon role is Robert Walker (as Frank Pulver), who gets caught smuggling several bottles of scotch in a brassiere box. Taking over for James Cagney, taskmaster Burl Ives (as Captain Morton) orders the booze thrown overboard. Too bad thirsty "Doc" Walter Matthau, taking over the role played by William Powell, couldn't convince Mr. Ives to use the alcohol for medicinal purposes...

Next, Ives refuses to allow seaman Tommy Sands (as John X. Bruno) shore leave, to comfort his wife and bury their suddenly deceased daughter. That's heartless. Walker captures some of the appeal Mr. Lemmon brought to the original film, but the three leads are miscast - Ives most obviously. The supporting cast is full of faces who would later become more famous; they are fun to place. Watch for a refueling plane to arrive with "Super Gal" painted on its side; probably inviting lawsuit consideration, she is the spitting image of DC Comics' "Supergirl" without the insignia.

***** Ensign Pulver (7/31/64) Joshua Logan ~ Robert Walker Jr., Burl Ives, Walter Matthau, Tommy Sands
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