Mister Roberts Reviews
Lt (jg) Doug Roberts (played by Henry Fonda) is an officer aboard a US Navy supply ship. It is the last few months of World War 2 and the ship is stationed in the Pacific. The ship's captain, Lt Commander Morton (James Cagney), is a hard, mean taskmaster and is universally despised by the crew. Roberts keeps applying to transfer to a fighting ship but the Captain keeps preventing this happening. Meanwhile Ensign Frank Pulver (Jack Lemmon), when not chasing nurses, has some ideas to undermine the captain...
Works much better as a comedy than a drama. The military side of things is fairly inaccurate and unrealistic. While directors John Ford and Mervyn Leroy try to make something of the Roberts-Morton feud, the crew's low morale and generally how a captain can bring down a crew, this isn't developed very well. There is very little real tension in the plot.
The comedy, however, is pretty good. There are some great slapstick moments and there is a fun tone to the movie. Moreover, Jack Lemmon lights up the screen, and although acting behind the cinematic legends that are Cagney and Fonda, outshines them in this movie. He won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts.
On that note, Cagney and Fonda put in solid performances. However, Fonda was about 30 years older than his character, so was badly miscast.
P.S. Cagney was a bad-ass in real life also.
The movie was directed by John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy and Joshua Logan who was uncredited. While directing the film, Ford had personality conflicts with actors Henry Fonda and James Cagney. When Ford met Cagney at the airport, the director warned that they would "tangle asses," which caught Cagney by surprise. Cagney later said: "I would have kicked his brains out. He was so goddamned mean to everybody. He was truly a nasty old man." The next day, Cagney was slightly late on set, and Ford became incensed. Cagney cut short the imminent tirade, saying: "When I started this picture, you said that we would tangle asses before this was over. I'm ready now - are you?" Ford backed down and walked away and he and Cagney had no further conflicts on the set.
I love watching it with my dad