Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mister Roberts (1955)

Superb comedy-drama, adapted from the Thomas Heggen-Joshua Logan play about loyalty and friendship among the crew of a cargo ship during WWII. Henry Fonda re-creates his Tony-award winning role as Lt. (j.g.) Doug Roberts, supported by a fine ensemble cast including James Cagney as the brutish captain, William Powell as the sardonic, wise "Doc", and Jack Lemmon as the hapless Ensign Pulver. John Ford -- who began directing the film -- was a natural choice for this material, with its themes of male camaraderie and military decorum, but he was replaced by Mervyn LeRoy following a falling-out with Fonda. The film betrays its theatrical origins, its locations largely confined to the ship's cabins and deck, but does contain some stunning imagery of the sea and the sky (with some particularly striking shots of the sunlight shining through the clouds over the water) that provide evidence of Ford's impeccable eye for expansive visual details.

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