My First post of the new year brings me back to those film reviews I’ve been promising! This one will be about 1955’s Mister Roberts.
Featuring an all star cast- Henry Fonda, William Powell, James Cagney, and Jack Lemmon (who for this role, won Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars that year), Mister Roberts is one of the funniest World War II movies ever made. It has no combat scenes, no trenches, and no gun shots, yet the film still creates the feel of the on going World War.
For me personally, I watched this film for William Powell (this film is his final screen appearance), but it wasn’t long into watching before I started to adore the other actors too! Henry Fonda is really good (looking.. ahem 😉 ) and Jack Lemmon cracked me up! James Cagney, although playing the “bossy” boss also gives a wonderful performance.
The entire film takes place on a cargo ship in the middle of the Pacific (titled Reluctant). Each one of the main characters has their own mini subplot while being stuck on the ship. Henry Fonda plays the title character who longs to be a part of the action, Jack Lemmon plays his “buddy” and prankster Ensign Frank Pulver (who wants to lighten up the mood), while William Powell plays their fatherly figure “Doc”. James Cagney rounds out the cast as the ship’s uptight and stern Captain whose number one priority is his beloved Palm tree.
One of my favorite scenes in the entire movie has to be the scene where Doc makes scotch for Pulver (in order to impress a nurse at the base of an unnamed South Pacific island). After all, who else would you trust to make you some home made alcohol other than Mr. Nick Charles himself 😉
I don’t want to giveaway the ending, but I will say that there is a bit of an unexpected shock that comes to one of our characters. Every time I watch, I know its coming and yet I still have the same reaction upon seeing it unfold.
An interesting note about this film is the behind the scenes problems between Director John Ford and Henry Fonda. The two men have worked together previously (and in some of the best films ever made too- My Darling Clementine and The Grapes of Wrath for starters), but for Fonda, the final straw came when Ford punched him in the jaw. According to IMDB, it was then (along with Ford’s emergency gallbladder operation) that the director had to be replaced with Mervyn LeRoy – and to this day there is speculation as to who directed what.
I for one sure can’t tell the difference between the two- and sometimes wonder what made Ford and Fonda part company- as they never worked together again. Yet another secret behind the mysterious nature of John Ford.
In the end, I feel everyone should give Mister Roberts a chance- even though it’s considered a “guy” comedy- I say it has something for everyone (ladies there’s four classic leading men in uniform!!!) ….
…..And it definitely teaches the best method of how to get rid of your boss’s precious (but irritating) foliage!