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  • Writer's pictureRonny Duncan Studios

Mister Roberts (1955)

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Plot Summary: Mister Roberts is a bittersweet film about a supply officer aboard a decrepit cargo ship during World War II who yearns for a transfer into a combat zone but is thwarted by the ship's captain, a petty tyrant. Forced to endure various humiliations in exchange for privileges, the crew engages in minor acts of resistance, and looks to Mr. Roberts for inspiration and moral support. Based on the hit Broadway play.

*Recognition: Nominated for Best Picture and Best Sound; Won for Best Supporting Actor (Jack Lemmon).

What is this movie is about?: Appreciation for those not in direct combat, endurance as a form of combat. There are many ways to serve.

Best Performance: Jack Lemmon (Pulver)/Henry Fonda (Mister Roberts)

Best Secondary Performance: James Cagney (Captain Morton)

Most Charismatic Award: William Powell (Doc)/Jack Lemmon (Pulver)

Best Scene: Doc Reveals Crew's Forgery/Roberts' Letters

Favorite Scene: Making Navy Bourbon/Night of Liberty

Most Indelible Moment: Roberts Tosses the Palm Tree Overboard/Roberts and Morton's Deal

Best Line:

Roberts: I'm in the war at last, Doc! I've caught up with that task force that passed me by. I'm glad to be here. I had to be here, I guess. But I'm thinking now of you, Doc, and you, Frank, and Dolan, and Dowdy, and Insigna, and everyone else on that bucket. All the guys everywhere who sail from tedium to apathy and back again, with an occasional side trip to monotony. This is a tough crew on here, and they have a wonderful battle record. But I've discovered, Doc, that the unseen enemy of this war is the boredom that eventually becomes a faith and, therefore, a terrible sort of suicide. And I know now that the ones who refused to surrender to it are the strongest of all.

Honorable Mention:

Pulver: Captain, it is I, Ensign Pulver, and I just threw your stinking palm tree overboard! Now what's all this crud about no movie tonight?!

Funniest Line:

Roberts: Frank, I like you. There's no getting around the fact that you're a real likable guy.

Pulver: Yeah? Yeah!

Roberts: But...

Pulver: But what?

Roberts: Well, I also think you're the most hapless, lazy, disorganized, and in general, the most lecherous person I've ever known in my life.

Pulver: I am not!

Roberts: You're not what?

Pulver: I'm not disorganized, for one thing!

Roberts: Have you ever in your life finished one thing you started out to do? You sleep 16 hours a day. You pretend you want me to improve your mind. You've never finished one book I've given you to read.

Pulver: I finished God's Little Acre, Doug boy!

Roberts: I didn't give you that. [to Lieutenant "Doc"] He's been reading God's Little Acre for over a year now. He's underlined every erotic passage and added exclamation points. And after a certain pornographic climax, he's inserted the words "well written".

The Stanley Rubric:

Legacy: 4.75

Impact/Significance: 5.75

Novelty: 6.75

Classic-ness: 7.25

Rewatchability: 6.75

Audience Score: 8.4

Total: 39.65

Remaining Questions:

  • If you were a crew member, would you regret helping Roberts meet his eventual demise?

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