Mister Roberts - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Mister Roberts Reviews

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December 7, 2016
A fun films with several major stars from John Ford(and Mervyn LeRoy. Henry Fonda leads this ensemble in a role he originated on Broadway and is supported by James Cagney, William Powell(in his final role) and Jack Lemmon(who won the Best Supp. Oscar). I liked the leads, but most the unknown supporting actors were weak in my opinion. Still, it is at least worth a watch to see all the big stars in action and Lemmon is amusing in his breakout role.
½ November 20, 2016
This film goes to show that no matter how much talent you pack it to a movie it's not a guaranteed brilliant work. There's superb performances here and the message of the film (heroism in the mundane) is laudable. The problem is, it's a movie about dealing with being the first officer on a boring ship. As if ship movies aren't already boring enough.
½ February 3, 2016
Entertaining naval comedy-drama.

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.
½ December 16, 2014
Pretty tepid stuff overall despite a few solid scenes.
August 8, 2014
predictable, yes, but the performances (especially Lemmon) are fantastic
½ June 12, 2014
yayyy it's JACK LEMMON ^^
June 11, 2014
A story about how boring it can be on board ship turned into a boring movie.
½ January 12, 2014
I love "Mister Roberts" for the actors. I could never have imagined Henry Fonda sharing screen space with James Cagney, and to top that there is Jack Lemmon. All three very different from one another yet extraordinary actors. And to my surprise it was partially directed by John Ford, he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy because Ford had issues with Fonda and Cagney, from what I read Ford actually punched Fonda in an argument! The funny thing is Warner Bros. wanted William Holden or Marlon Brando for the lead role but Ford insisted it should be Fonda. It's a comedy-drama war movie without any war action; World War II is nearing a closure, the US Navy cargo ship Reluctant hasn't gotten any action for years, they have a very strict, unpopular and harsh captain in Lieutenant Commander Morton (Cagney), Fonda is Roberts as the cargo chief and Lemmon is the laundry officer. Roberts is really like the nurturer of the crew, he takes care of the guys and protects them from Morton; he keeps writing letters for his transfer because he wants to be in combat but Morton refuses to endorse his requests out of sheer ego. One of my favorite scenes is when Cagney meets Lemmon; the latter is very scared of him and really stays in his room so Cagney has no idea that he has been on the ship for fourteen months! If you're familiar with Ford's work, this film doesn't look or feel like any of his other films, probably because he didn't direct all of it or because his famous works were made in the 40s and were largely westerns, and this film was made in 1955. My only complaint is that I don't think it really has a flow in providing time for its three stars, sometimes you wish Cagney had gotten more scope, and then there may be a scene where Lemmon is missing. Maybe because of its director replacements it's not as polished as it could have been. It's very funny at times and I was surprised at how touching it can be, there is a underline of melancholy and Henry Fonda is the best to express those feelings.

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.
January 4, 2014
A long winded melodramatic comedy that did not have an overly compelling plot, but was one for all those in the military who identified with harsh leaders and being stuck at their posts for long periods of time. Lemmon had me laugh in his quirky manner, Cagney was at his meanest, Fonda as his usual dry self, and Powell was good support as he doctor.
Super Reviewer
December 30, 2013
One of the most delightful of war "comedies' Mister Roberts provides a good starring role for Henry Fonda and puts him toe to toe with legendary James Cagney. Throw in Jack Lemmon and William Powell and you have the recipe for something special which is delivered most effectively.
November 18, 2013
Pretty funny. Lemon really gets to stand out, and Henry Fonda is just playing the blowhard ra-ra guy who can't wait to die for his country. I'm surprised his crew likes him so much; these guys are just trying to survive the war and here's this guy talking about how much he wants to "do something." I think most real sailors just trying to survive the war and having to hear that all of the time for real in WWII would be like: "STFU."
August 10, 2013
Not sure, but this might have worked better on Broadway. It was a good picture, but the one part I truly loved was Jack Lemmon's Oscar winning role.
July 7, 2013
One of my favorite Cagney roles. Excellent cast !!
February 28, 2013
Entertaining to a point.
February 27, 2013
the funniest movie ive ever seen
I love watching it with my dad
February 7, 2013
This light-hearted and entertaining comedy-drama, saw the return after an 8 year absence to the screen by Henry Fonda, and director John Ford directing this adaptation of Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan's 1948 play. It should have been an easy shoot, but Ford got sacked and was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy, with Logan employed to do uncredited reshoots much later on. It could have been a disaster, but it's brilliant to watch with great performances. In the final days of World War II on board the United States Navy cargo ship Reluctant, it's run by Lieutenant Commander Morton (James Cagney), who is unpopular with the rest of the crew, but he's a proud and enigmatic man. Morale amongst the crew is low because of the fear Morton puts into the crew, but his executive officer Lieutenant Douglas A. "Doug" Roberts (Fonda), makes it his personal mission to raise morale amongst the crew. Roberts shares his Ensign Frank Thurlowe Pulver (Jack Lemmon) who spends most of his time avoiding Morton. When Roberts lets the crew have fun on shore leave, Morton gets mad at Roberts. It's a fun film, and you'd never believe that 3 directors worked on the film, Lemmon steals the film, and he rightfully won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his efforts, while Fonda and Cagney spar off each other brilliantly, it makes electrifying viewing.
December 15, 2012
an entertaining film dominated by Fonda's laid back character vs Cagneys maniacal ship captain.
December 7, 2012
Looks interesting will try to find and watch!
November 12, 2012
An imperfect film that does drag at times, but it's still a very entertaining motion picture that really holds your attention.
October 13, 2012
A highly enjoyable comedy-drama that largely succeeds thanks to its writing but also from its actors including Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon and the show-stealing James Cagney whose performance as the strict and no-holds barred ship captain must surely go down as one of his best performances, if not his best. The film manages to take advantage of its claustrophobic setting by giving an insight into life without action on a cargo ship thanks to its dead-on accurate visual storytelling not to mention the clever use of balancing fun comedy with serious drama, with the key highlight being the excellent scenes of verbal confrontation between Fonda's likable Mister Roberts and Cagney's unfair captain. This is a highlight of 1950's American cinema which deserved its Best Picture Oscar nomination and ultimately earns a repeat viewing which might just advance the film's stance as one hell of a good character studyy
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