Mister Roberts (1955)
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For me, movies back then usually weren't so black and white. Meaning they were pretty straightforward with their genre. Mister Roberts manages to tiptoe between comedy and drama very successfully. With captivating performances from the 4 lead actors. Excellent script and one can overlook the short and not very dominant part of the film where the female crew was objectified.
Twilight masterpiece performance from Powell as well
Mister Roberts isn't as edgy, but it feels a lot like the Navy version of M*A*S*H, with its P.A. announcements, enlisted personnel filling the boring waiting periods with shenanigans, and in Henry Fonda's title character, someone who writes weekly letters to get transferred away (shades of Klinger's Section 8 schemes). Mr. Roberts' problem is that he wants to see action, but he's trapped on a supply ship run by an unreasonable James Cagney and a crew that grows more and more frustrated as the war goes on. There's light comedy throughout and the film makes use of a wide cast, though the only real support players are the wonderful William Powell, at the end of his career, and Jack Lemon, at the start of his (and yet he feels fully-formed as a performer). It's almost like a passing of the torch. So a very watchable film, with real heart, but quite decompressed. Every scene goes on a bit too long or has a little too much air in it, so where it would be a cracker at 90-100 minutes, it feels overlong at 123. But in a way, that reproduces the sailors' experience, doesn't it?
Great movie and my favorite ending of all time!
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In 3 official lists
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This movie ranks #201 in Academy Award - Best Picture Nominees
This movie ranks #417 in Emma Beare's 501 Must-See Movies
This movie ranks #561 in The New York Times's Book of Movies