Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Mister Roberts


MovieMadness
 Share

Recommended Posts

James Cagney in Mr. Roberts does an accurate portrayal of a Merchant Seaman Captain that sailed on a couple of ships I participated in. I know in a movie it seems like this guy could never exist, but in real life the merchant shipping companies loved these types of people.

 

The would use them and back them up over lower officers, because they delivered what the company wanted no matter the cost. In the merchant service Mr. Roberts would have been chewed out royally early and probably would have left the ship at the next available port, never to sail with that company again.

 

When Jack Lemmon first meets the Captain, that is also the way the Captain type may have reacted as he loved those that sucked up and would promote those types first. Although given time even Jack Lemmon would have been chewed out by this Captain, they love to do that and test people just because they are the Captain.

 

Now in this movie it is made out that somehow the Captain is overbearing, but it also happens that a crew will take as much rope as you give them. That is why they have made it this high and the companies have promoted them as they take away the rope. Many people receive Captains paper but never sailed as Captain because they were never hired as Captain.

 

As a good comparison, there is the movie *The Caine Mutiny*. Bogart plays another Captain that is overbearing and mentally unstable, but he is equally a type that sailed and was promoted. In that movie they get to see the real navy, going aboard an aircraft carrier. That is missing in the movie Mr. Roberts.

 

Mr. Roberts demeanor would never fly on a real battle ship for long, while he is very likable he would change dramatically or be reprimanded. They would not bargain like Cagney does, there was not time.

 

However there is also the long time that Mr. Roberts was at sea and it gets very frustrating to do. It would not be surprising they come up with ways to get Liberty or be transferred.

 

The real question is would we have won the war with Mr. Roberts types or the Captain types in the movie running things? Mr. Roberts and crew fought the Captain the whole movie, it is just something to think about.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmmmm...interesting ideas and final question here, MM. And so here's my answer...

 

I've always thought once you factor out all the paranoid craziness based in deep-seated resentment and feelings of inadequacy represented by Captains Queeg and Morton on their respective ships, Lt. Roberts would have gotten along on with his NEW Captain on that destroyer pretty much like Lt, Maryk(Van Johnson) got along with his OLD Captain(Tom Tully). In other words, very well, because there was and most likely would have been more mutual respect going on in those situations, and thus NO NEED for the needless internal conflict present on board each of Queeg's and Morton's ships.

 

(...and which of course without those "needless internal conflicts" on each ship, you would have far less of a story worth bothering to tell)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yes it is crazy, of coarse these are only movies but what happens in them (minus the court proceedings and actual mutiney in the second film) it is very realistic.

 

One strange thing at the end of Mr. Roberts is the crew blames the Captain for the death of Mr. Roberts when he actually postponed it by not giving him the transfer? Also Roberts died while drinking coffeee in the mess? They could have had him in charge of anti-aircraft but instead made him die doing a mundane thing on the new ship. I guess this was so he died needlessly instead of acting against the enemy and it being "justified".

 

Had Mr. Roberts lived and someday, somehow became a ships Captain he would not have been the same person as he was in the movie, at least in the merchant service. You rarely see a Captain that bends to the crew to where it affects overall operations. I saw a new Captain appointed over guys that were their longer and they instantly resented him. They would not go out of their way to help the new Captain, and you see that in both of the movies too.

 

These movies are all good at making Captain the villian and some lower officer the nice guy only looking out for everyone else (*Mutiny on the Bounty* too). *Mutiny on the Bounty* did have Fletcher become Captain in name at the end and they showed he suddenly did have to change and was hated. I think crew members were killed and it was not really a better ship without the earlier mean Captain after all. Having the inmates run the assylum doesn't work, lol.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I had thought I'd never say this on these boards. Mainly because there's a poster here whom I like and respect, whose screen name is "mrroberts". Clearly he must like this film a lot, and for that reason I was never going to express my true opinion about it here. But, since it's come up on these boards...

sorry, mrroberts !

 

I haven't much to say about this "captain" business, I just want to talk about the movie.

 

I hate *Mr. Roberts* ! It's one of the most boring supposedly "good" movies I've ever seen ! It's funny, because I like all three of the lead actors (Fonda, Lemmon, Cagney). Despite this, I cannot stand this film, and could not wait for it to end.

What is the big deal with this thing? How come it seems to be so highly regarded? It's just one damn boring scene after another. Am I supposed to stay interested in it, waiting to see what's going to happen to the Captain's plant?

There's just nothing going on in *Mr. Roberts* that engages my attention at all. It just strikes me as one long boring sea voyage with a bunch of guys who don't like their captain. From what I see, the dislike is justified, but so what? That's not an interesting enough premise to retain any involvement for me.

For once, I feel like Fred...25 minutes into *Mr. Roberts* and nothing's happened !

 

I think part of the problem for me is the lack of female characters. Now, don't get me wrong, there don't have to be women in a film for me to like it. That other "weird captain" film the OP mentioned, *The Caine Mutiny*, is more or less lady-less, and I find it a fascinating piece of cinema. Other movies too, I just can't be bothered to think of them and list them right now.

 

But something about *Mr. Roberts* just cries out for some female characters. And I don't mean the one scene with all those nurses providing decoration to the ship for a few brief moments. Nor do I mean I want "romance" in the movie.

Aargh, maybe it isn't about the lack of females in the film either.

 

I don't know what it is, it's just really frigging boring ! Oh, and the supposedly funny scenes don't even make me smile, let alone laugh. I don't care that Jack Lemmon gets laundry detergent bubbles all over the place, I don't care that Henry Fonda and James Cagney are always arguing.

 

I figure part of the problem for me is, this thing is directed by John Ford. And I had a revelation a while ago: I don't like John Ford. There are a few exceptions, I won't go into it because this is not a thread about John Ford. I will say, though, aside from other considerations, I think he had a lousey sense of humour. His supposedly funny scenes never make me laugh, they make me impatient.

 

There. I have confessed the truth.

 

(Once again, I want to apologize to my message board friend here, mrroberts. mrroberts, you can go ahead and hate "The Maltese Falcon" if you like. Sorry to so completely diss a film you clearly must like.)

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

I'm sort of WITH ya, MissW. I like the movie, but not as much as it seems people THINK I should. I also think it's kind of unfair to compare how a merchant ship is operated to how the US Navy operates. I've never worked on a ship for either. I worked in an auto plant. But similar people existed THERE, too.

 

 

I always saw Mr. Roberts as the Navy's answer to Seargent Slaughter. Able to get the jobs done more or less HIS way, while still making the Captain feel HE'S in charge.

 

 

To answer another question, I think *Mr. Roberts* qualifies as a "dramedy", a mixture of both comedy AND drama. What surprises me is that no one here brought up some of the comparisons in both "Roberts" and *Mutiny On The Bounty* . Though there is no mutiny in "Roberts", there IS the element of the Captain, who figures himself to be "pure Navy", the tempermental behavior, and the obsession the Captain in "Roberts" had with his potted plant in comparison to the breadfruit plants Bligh obsessed over in "Mutiny". The glee crew members felt when that plant was thrown overboard equals the glee the Bounty crew felt in throwing the breadfruit overboard after the mutiny. Roberts was a modern day Christian, although no mutiny was ever commited. Christian's and Roberts' relationship with either crew was the same.

 

 

Where I worked, nobody ever got "promoted" to a higher "rank". In that case, a higher rank than working on the line was "utility man", and that job was given to the higher seniority dudes. But they could refuse it if they wished, and nobody resented them. The only way for someone with lower seniority to move up to a position of authority such as "foreman" was to apply for it. Tests would have to be taken, and a training/probation period would be required. This always had mixed reactions. Some guys, once becoming foremen, would change somehow, letting the position of authority go to their heads. They subsequently became ineffective as foremen. Others would be pulled apart by those higher ups who insisted on a pure business attitude from the foreman and those "old buddies" still on the line who figured an old friend as foreman would get them special consideration. I've seen many a good man AND friendships destroyed when that foreman wouldn't and COULDN'T comply. In military service, there are more serious consequences to face when giving a higher rank a hard time. Fortunately, there were several of these men who became foremen who were able to strike a good balance, and none of the workers gave them a hard time. In some cases, the guys on the line would become more efficient under their direction. I have been fortunate to have had more of those kind of foreman than the other.

 

 

Sepiatone

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=misswonderly wrote:}{quote}Well, I had thought I'd never say this on these boards. Mainly because there's a poster here whom I like and respect, whose screen name is "mrroberts". Clearly he must like this film a lot, and for that reason I was never going to express my true opinion about it here. But, since it's come up on these boards...

> sorry, mrroberts !

>

> I haven't much to say about this "captain" business, I just want to talk about the movie.

>

>

> I hate *Mr. Roberts* ! It's one of the most boring supposedly "good" movies I've ever seen ! It's funny, because I like all three of the lead actors (Fonda, Lemmon, Cagney). Despite this, I cannot stand this film, and could not wait for it to end.

> What is the big deal with this thing? How come it seems to be so highly regarded? It's just one damn boring scene after another. Am I supposed to stay interested in it, waiting to see what's going to happen to the Captain's plant?

> There's just nothing going on in *Mr. Roberts* that engages my attention at all. It just strikes me as one long boring sea voyage with a bunch of guys who don't like their captain. From what I see, the dislike is justified, but so what? That's not an interesting enough premise to retain any involvement for me.

> For once, I feel like Fred...25 minutes into *Mr. Roberts* and nothing's happened !

>

>

> I think part of the problem for me is the lack of female characters. Now, don't get me wrong, there don't have to be women in a film for me to like it. That other "weird captain" film the OP mentioned, *The Caine Mutiny*, is more or less lady-less, and I find it a fascinating piece of cinema. Other movies too, I just can't be bothered to think of them and list them right now.

>

>

> But something about *Mr. Roberts* just cries out for some female characters. And I don't mean the one scene with all those nurses providing decoration to the ship for a few brief moments. Nor do I mean I want "romance" in the movie.

> Aargh, maybe it isn't about the lack of females in the film either.

>

>

> I don't know what it is, it's just really frigging boring ! Oh, and the supposedly funny scenes don't even make me smile, let alone laugh. I don't care that Jack Lemmon gets laundry detergent bubbles all over the place, I don't care that Henry Fonda and James Cagney are always arguing.

>

>

> I figure part of the problem for me is, this thing is directed by John Ford. And I had a revelation a while ago: I don't like John Ford. There are a few exceptions, I won't go into it because this is not a thread about John Ford. I will say, though, aside from other considerations, I think he had a lousey sense of humour. His supposedly funny scenes never make me laugh, they make me impatient.

>

>

> There. I have confessed the truth.

>

>

> (Once again, I want to apologize to my message board friend here, mrroberts. mrroberts, you can go ahead and hate "The Maltese Falcon" if you like. Sorry to so completely diss a film you clearly must like.)

>

I could not agree with you more, misswonderly, and like you I now hate this movie. The first few times I saw it when I was younger I absolutely loved it and thought that it's rep was well deserved...but when you watch something enough times your opinion can change. I now hate Mister Roberts. My biggest problem with this nonsense can be summed up in 2 words...Jack frigging Lemmon! His Pulver character is just too bombastic at times. Pulver is suppose to be a weasel but secretly despises the captain like everyone else. Bull! A real life Pulver type wouldn't care about how others felt about the captain one way ot the other. If I were Pulver I'd be having endless fun with Roberts belittling him for being dumb enough not to play ball with a seasoned tough-as-nails hardcase like Cagney's captain. I'd be up Cagney's kazoo so much that Mister Roberts would soon be the ship's Permanent Laundry Orderly...*PLO!* :^0 As befits a smart college guy like Roberts. Seriously, the real problem with the film is after you see it enough times the crew's antics become very tired and worn. I mean how many times can you laugh at "I forgot my motorcycle!" Roberts goes off to a battleship and promptly gets himself killed (It WAS after all his idea) and it's like suppose to be this great tragedy. This overrated crap ain't worth a busted balzac. :P

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It's ironic that Ford had insisted that Fonda be cast as Roberts. This was Fonda's first major picture since "Fort Apache" 8 years earlier. Brando , Ty Power and William Holden had been approached. But Ford wanted Fonda and they clashed almost from the outset. Fonda though Ford was playing broad comedy that wasn't in the play and he{ Ford} had started to hit the bottle. It came to blows when Ford sucker punched Fonda at a production meeting. Even Cagney had a run in with Ford.. Then Ford left the picture with a gall bladder problem{?} and Mervyn Leroy and Josh Logan took the helm. Spencer Tracy and been offered the role of "Doc" but turned it down. It's said the Powell had problems memorizing his lines and that's the main reason this was his last film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The other day I watched Mister Roberts for the first time and really enjoyed the film. At first I was hesitant because I thought it wouldn't be interesting watching these men on a boat throughout the whole movie but I really liked it. I felt the performances by the whole cast were great. James Cagney was perfect as the Captain that everyone disliked and Henry Fonda was great as Mister Roberts. My favorite performance of the flim would have to be Jack Lemmon as Pulver. I found Jack Lemmon to be very funny in this film, especially in the scene when the Captain notices him for the first time. Some parts of the film can be a little boring. I think the film though is trying to show how life on the boat for these men can be very long and dull. At the end of the film when Doc tells Mister Roberts that the crew was the one who sent out his transfer to another boat, I thought that was going to make him stay on the ship with them. I was kind of shocked at the end when he actually left for the other ship but I guess that this was his one chance to get off the ship because the Captain otherwise would not have allowed that to happen.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For whatever reason last night and while watching this movie for maybe the 7th or 8th time, I got an extra special kick this time out of when Powell is explaining to Fonda about his "Reflexive Hero Theory" and using the supposition of Lemmon flying a B-29 as his example. And then after he can't get Lemmon's knee to jerk about striking it a couple of times says, "You better stay out of B-29s, Frank!" LOL

 

(...so yeah, I guess in MY case and even after 7 or 8 viewings of this film, I still like it!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I remember when Mr. Roberts first came out. I watched it and liked it. I didn't bother to watch it this time around, except for one scene which I always try to watch when it's on: the one where Jack Lemmon tells the captain how long he's been on board. That one killed Cagney so much that he could hardly keep a straight face. He tells about it in his autobio; that Lemmon's line made him hysterical and he couldn't say his own line afterward. He says he asked Lemmon to go over it with him again and again so it would lose its meaning, and eventually he managed to get through the scene, but he says when you see it on screen he's just barely holding it in.

 

My favorite part of the picture is watching Bill Powell make Red Label. He was always attractive to me, for some reason, but there he looked downright handsome, with that dark tan and the silver hair. I recently learned he worked with my mother's boss, Billy Connery, a congressman, before he went into politics. Billy's nephew, Larry Quirk, wrote a book about the Kennedys in Hollywood, and in it mentions Joe Kennedy talking with Bill Powell at a party, about Billy Connery. Powell says, "I played in stock with Billy," and Kennedy says, "I wish to hell he'd stayed in acting; then we wouldn't have all this labor BS." Only he didn't say "BS." Joe Kennedy was strictly Managment. Billy was chairman of the House Labor Committee and wrote the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 that established the minimum wage, 40 hour week and child labor laws. His brother Larry Connery (a pal of mine when I was growing up) is quoted in the book as saying that Billy and Joe couldn't be at the same party without going at it about the rights of labor.

 

Larry Quirk, by the way, wrote for Photoplay for a long time. He wrote books about Joan Crawford, Bob Hope and other movie stars.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, at the risk of stating the obvious, everyone has a different sense of humour.

I just don't find John Ford's humour funny. Nothing in his films ever makes me laugh; I just sit there stoney-faced (or rather, po-faced), wondering if this stuff is really his idea of comedy.

 

As for *Mr. Roberts* , I think it would have been more interesting if they'd developed Cagney's character a little more. He's just a black and white rotten guy, pompous, self-centred, unheeding of his men's concerns. This cannot help but make him a two-dimensional character.

 

It would have helped a lot if the captain had had some "nuances" (to use the currently fashionable word) to his character. We never see him as anything but the stubborn dictatorial captain; there's no "grey" to him.(maybe if there was a little "turquoise" ...)

 

Now, Captain Queeg, he of the Caine Mutiny, was a much more sympathetic, or at least interesting, character, because he demonstrated more than just the nutty tyranical side of the captain. He was a more complicated person, and therefore a more engaging one, than Captain Morton.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I know, finance. And I thought of you and your dislike for Powell in this thing JUST at the moment I mentioned earlier he said the "B-29" punchline and when I laughed out loud...and then went on to think HOW in the world can finance not find Bill Powell's performance up-to-snuff in this baby? HOW???

 

(...and THEN I went on to think that there's probably no way in hell he could ever express his thoughts about this in only one and if we're lucky TWO complete sentence , and thus I'll probably never REALLY know the true underlying answer to this!!!)

 

LOL

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cagney in full aggressive mode is always great. He was the best thing in the film. In LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME he was even better. ..William Powell was never a favorite of mine, but he was fine in THE GREAT ZIEGFELD, the THIN MAN , and LOVE CRAZY. I actually REALLY liked him in LIFE WITH FATHER, which was the perfect role for him.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Okay, now that I get it isn't Powell overall that you don't care for, though I think I already knew that beforehand, what specifically is it about Powell's performance in this particular film you've always found wanting?

 

(...ya know ol' buddy, I think we've had this discussion before, but I'm sorry I just can't seem to remember the specific points you might have made back then, so please tell me again if ya would)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ya know MissW, it's been wrackin' my brain a bit as to why you don't think the comedy in this film is all that funny...and then it hit me.

 

I'm thinkin' it MIGHT be because you were never in the Armed Forces. And I'm thinkin' this because I think this film and the characters in it could maybe be analogous to the WWII G.I. comic strip characters of Willie and Joe which were created by Bill Mauldin, but in this case a naval version of them.

 

Now, I remember my father, a WWII G.I.(and a real character himself, I might add ;) ) just LOVED those guys and thought them hilarious, and of course this was most likely because he knew firsthand of the often absurd situations those in the Armed Forces lived through during that war and how well Mauldin captured the feelings and essence of the average G.I.'s frustrations.

 

And so, I would think some with none of this firsthand experience to draw upon might often be a little less inclined to appreciate this type of humor.

 

(...so, whaddaya think?...might I be on to somethin' here or not?...it's your call)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hmm...close, but no ceegar, Dargo. Good idea, though.

 

I guess that explains why I don't find the humour Ford tries to insert into his Westerns funny, either. I've never been a cowboy.

 

Nah, I just don't find John Ford's idea of "funny" to coincide with mine. Doesn't matter what the situation is - the desert, a cattle ranch, a little town in Ireland, or a merchant marine ship...he just doesn't make me laugh.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Really?! THAT'S the most "enjoyable" part for ya, TOWNIE...err...I mean FLYBACK???!!!

 

LOL

 

(...actually, the funny part about your statement here is that as far as I could ever tell, Roberts NEVER throws the fact of his college education in Morton's face...nope, it's Morton's feelings of past resentment at "college boys" in general and his OWN insecurities that motivates his actions)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...