DIRECTED BY JOHN FORD
PRODUCED BY LELAND HOWARD
ORIGINAL MUSIC BY FRANZ WAXMAN
WARNER BROS. PICTURES
Information from IMDb
Mister Roberts is aboard a US cargo ship, working in the Pacific during the Second World War.
He'd do anything to leave the quiet of the ship to join in the "action".
Trouble is, the captain of the ship, is a bit of a tyrant, and isn't willing to sign
Roberts' transfer requests.
Also on board is Ensign Pulver, who avoids work as best he can,
whilst living off the riches of his buying and selling.
Roberts and the crew are in constant battle, even over the smallest of disagreements.
Written by Rob Hartill
Henry Fonda ... Lt. JG Douglas A. 'Doug' Roberts
James Cagney ... Capt. Morton
William Powell ... Lt. 'Doc'
Jack Lemmon ... Ens. Frank Thurlowe Pulver
Betsy Palmer ... Lt. Ann Girard
Ward Bond ... Chief Petty Officer Dowdy
Philip Carey ... Mannion (as Phil Carey)
Nick Adams ... Reber
Perry Lopez ... Rodrigues
Ken Curtis ... Yeoman 3rd Class Dolan
Robert Roark ... Insigna
Harry Carey Jr. ... Stefanowski
Patrick Wayne ... Bookser (as Pat Wayne)
Frank Aletter ... Gerhart
Tige Andrews ... Wiley (as Tiger Andrews)
Fritz Ford ... Lindstrom
Jim Moloney ... Kennedy
Buck Kartalian ... Mason
Denny Niles ... Gilbert
William Henry ... Lt. Billings
Francis Connor ... Cochran
William Hudson ... Olson
Shug Fisher ... Johnson
Stubby Kruger ... Schlemmer
Danny Borzage ... Jonesy
Harry Tenbrook ... Cookie
Jim Murphy ... Taylor
Kathleen O'Malley ... Nurse
Maura Murphy ... Nurse
Mimi Doyle ... Nurse
Jeanne Murray ... Nurse
Lonnie Pierce ... Nurse
Martin Milner ... Shore Patrol Officer
Gregory Walcott ... Shore Patrolman
James Flavin ... Military Policeman
Jack Pennick ... Marine Sergeant
Duke Kahanamoku ... Native Chief (as Duke Kahanamoko)
George Brangier ... French Colonial Officer (uncredited)
Clarence E. Frank ... Naval Officer (uncredited)
Carolyn Tong ... Bookser's Native Romance (uncredited)
Joshua Logan (uncredited)
Frank S. Nugent (screenplay) (as Frank Nugent) and
Joshua Logan (screenplay and play))
Thomas Heggen (play) and novel
Winton C. Hoch
William Powell's last film. Powell had marked difficulties retaining his lines, something that had not happened to him in earlier films, and this was one of the reasons "Mister Roberts" was his final movie appearance.
Henry Fonda reprises the title role that he originated on Broadway (for which he won a Tony Award in 1948).
The ship used for filming is the fishing vessel "Ghost".
When the stuntman hired to do the motorcycle going off the pier stunt refused to do the stunt, John Ford hired a bystander who couldn't ride a motorcycle but had the nerve to try the stunt. The "bystander" was a young Marine named Jack Lewis, who wasn't even an experienced rider. However, being young and foolish, Lewis said, "Sure, I'll do it." The Marine Corps wouldn't let Ford pay Lewis the $700 he offered, so Ford went into the nearby Hilton hotel and told the management that Lewis could drink in the bar on Ford's tab for the next year. Lewis went on to become an author ("Chosen Tales of Chosin;" "The Sandtrap Marines") and publisher of magazines ("Gun World") and trade paperbacks ("Gun Digest Book of Guns," etc.), but one who maintained friendships with many in the movie business, including numerous cowboy film stars.
The part of Doc was originally offered to Spencer Tracy, who declined.
The reason the film has two credited directors is because John Ford began the film but Mervyn LeRoy had to finish it. Some reports claim Ford left the project due to an illness, others claim it was due to a disagreement with star Henry Fonda.
Both Marlon Brando and William Holden turned down the role of Mr. Roberts.
The ship (USS Reluctant) in the story was actually the USS Virgo AKA20-AE30.
Average Shot Length (ASL) = 12 seconds
Joshua Logan, who directed and co-wrote the Broadway production, was brought in to redirect some sequences which the producers felt that original director John Ford had captured ineffectively before he was taken off the project. Logan was credited as co-writer instead of co-director because it was felt that having three names listed as director would look silly in the credits. Both Logan and Henry Fonda felt that the film version did not have anywhere near the quality of the stage production.
At first the US Navy was not happy that the movie was to be made at all - Capt. Morton (James Cagney) was not the kind of officer the Navy wanted the public to see - and was going to withhold all cooperation with the filmmakers. It took the influence of John Ford, a former Navy captain, on some of his friends at Navy headquarters in Washington to secure the Navy's cooperation.
Before shooting the scene where Pulver identifies himself and tells the Captain that he's been on the ship for "14months, sir", James Cagney realized that he would have to rehearse the moment with Jack Lemmon again and again so he wouldn't burst out laughing during the actual filming. Lemmon agreed, and when the scene was filmed Cagney claimed he was just barely able to hang on with a straight face, even after all the rehearsal time.
The original Broadway production of "Mr. Roberts" by Thomas Heggen and Joshua Logan opened at the Alvin Theater on February 18, 1948, ran for 1157 performances and won the 1948 Tony Award (New York City) for the Best Play. Henry Fonda reprises his role in the movie.
Although he played the part of Lt. jg Doug Roberts on Broadway, Henry Fonda was not the first choice to recreate the role for the film version (the producers felt the 50 year old Fonda too old to play the role). The producers first wanted Marlon Brando, but he was committed to another project at the time and could not get out of it. Then the producers turned to Tyrone Power. But director John Ford insisted on Fonda - they had made several successful films together - and would not direct the film without him. Since the producers needed the director with 6 Academy Awards to helm the film, they gave in to him. Ironically, once filming began, Ford and Fonda saw eye to eye on almost nothing. Fonda had played the character on Broadway for 2 years, and felt he knew the character inside out. Ford had other ideas and on his set, you saw things his way or you saw the door. Things came to a head when, during a meeting with producers, Fonda and Ford to clear the air, Ford sucker punched Fonda. Ford left the production soon after (Ford's war-related health reasons were given as the official explanation). Mervyn LeRoy, and later Joshua Logan, the director of the Broadway play, took over directing duties and finished the film. The decision was made to keep Ford's and Leroy's name in the final credits.
Jack Lemmon appears in Mister Roberts with Henry Fonda, in which he takes over Fonda's position of Cargo Officer when Fonda is transferred off the USS Reluctant. In the 1997 remake 12 Angry Men, Lemmon plays the same juror that Fonda played in the original 12 Angry Men.
Henry Fonda won the 1948 Tony Award (New York City) for Actor in a Drama for "Mister Roberts" for playing the title role which he recreated in the movie.
'LCM' is an abbreviation for 'Landing Craft - mechanised'. It was a landing craft designed to carry either troops or vehicles, as opposed to a landing craft only designed for troops.
Pulver tells the sailors to "flemish up the lines" as he gives the nurses a tour. 'Flemish' is a nautical term meaning to tidy up ropes (lines) by making a Flemish coil i.e. by taking the end of a line and laying it in a tight flat spiral on the deck.
The ship "Ghost" in the film was sister ship to the USS Pueblo that was captured by communist North Korea as an alleged spy ship in 1968.
The USS Hewell (AG-145) was NOT an LCM but an "AG", a small backwaters naval cargo ship. The Hewell was the ship utilized as the Reluctant in the film.
Continuity: During the "hat" scene in the captain's quarters, the safe is open at different angles.
Audio/visual unsynchronized: As Ensign Pulver tries to climb the stairs after blowing up the laundry room, you hear him calling out to someone and whistling at the same time.
Continuity: When Ensign Pulver returns to his cabin after blowing up the ship's laundry facility, the soap suds on his head and back change between shots.
Revealing mistakes: As the drunk sailors return from shore leave, the same shot of the truckload of men is used twice.
Audio/visual unsynchronized: On more than one occasion, Ensign Pulver's lips don't move when he sings his little song.
Continuity: The shore patrol arrives with a truckload of guards to restrict ship's personnel from leaving "The Bucket" and Schlemmer drives a motorcycle off of the dock. Before he does so, he passes the ship and the truck and all the shore patrol personnel are missing.
Continuity: In the scene where the ship is underway and at general quarters, several shots of the bridge show that there is no one at the helm (steering the ship).
Anachronisms: When Ensign Pulver is talking to Lt. Gerard in the hospital, through the window to their left you see a blue automobile pass by in the distance. It is obviously a 50's style automobile although the film is set during WWII.
Revealing mistakes: When Mister Roberts finally leaves the U.S.S. Reluctant by seaplane, the plane makes a 180 degree turn to the left and makes a close fly-by along the starboard side of the ship. This shot was not taken from the plane; it was taken from a camera boat passing the ship. You can see the wake from this boat at the left side of the screen as it meets the side of the Reluctant at the waterline.
Continuity: When Doc corks the bottle of alcohol, the cork appears out of nowhere.
Continuity: After Doug's transfer order comes through, he is talking with Doc. The accordian folder is first next to Doc, then under his arm, then back to the side of the table, then back to in front of Doc.
Crew or equipment visible: Camera shadow falls on Doc when he gets up to go to "check on hypochondriacs."
Continuity: The backgrounds behind both Roberts and the Captain vary when the Captain is confronting Roberts about the transfer request letter. The sky behind both Roberts and the Captain varies from clear blue, to having clouds, to being completely cloudy. There is land in the background behind the Captain's head that disappears.
Continuity: When Roberts is talking to the sailors inside after his confrontation with the Captain about his letter requesting a transfer, all the sweat stains on his shirt have disappeared.
Errors made by characters (possibly deliberate errors by the filmmakers): When they hear of the end of the war in Europe, Pulver calls it "VE Day". As there was no mention of this prior, he could not have known of this appellation and used the term.
Factual errors: The sailor on the LCM wants to trade the film, "The Sheriff's Daughter" with Hoot Gibson, to Mister Roberts. However, although there are five silent films entitled 'The Sheriff's Daughter" and two silent films entitled "The Daughter of the Sheriff", none of these feature Hoot Gibson. It is also unlikely that sailors would be watching silent films. The Hoot Gibson film nearest in name is "The Marshal's Daughter", but this was not made until 1952.
Continuity: When Ensign Pulver is supervising a supply transfer, his uniform shirt is heavily sweat-stained. But when confronts the captain shortly afterward, his shirt is spotless.
Factual errors: SPOILER: The envelopes for the letters from Doug and from Pulver's friend that announces Doug's death have postage stamps. Postage stamps are not required, nor are they available, for serviceman in the combat zones.
Factual errors: SPOILER: In the letter announcing Mr. Robert's death, it states that he and another officer were having coffee in the wardroom. If the ship were under attack, it would have been at general quarters. Mr. Roberts and the other officer would have been at their battle stations and no one would be lounging around. The destroyers on picket duty off of Okinawa and Iwo Jima tended to be at general quarters virtually from before sunrise to after sunset. While much is made of the carriers that took kami kaze hits, the fact is that the picket destroyers took a lot worse.
Honolulu, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA
Käne`ohe, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA
Marine Corps Air Station, Kane'ohe Bay, O'ahu, Hawaii, USA
Midway Atoll, Midway Islands
North Pacific, Pacific Ocean
Stage 15, 20 & 22 Warner Brothers Burbank Studios - 4000 Warner Boulevard, Burbank, California, USA