Silver Screen Icons: Mister Roberts/No Time for Sergeants [DVD]

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Overview

Special Features

  • Closed Captioned

Synopsis

Mister Roberts
Henry Fonda returned to films after an eight-year absence in this masterful adaptation of the actor's Broadway hit Mister Roberts. Written and partially directed by Joshua Logan, the film stars Fonda as Lt. Doug Roberts, chief cargo officer of the supply ship "Reluctant." WW2 is in its last few months, and Roberts is itching for combat duty. But the Reluctant's surly, despotic captain (James Cagney), anxious to use Roberts to expedite his own promotion, refuses to sign any of Roberts' transfer requests. Helping to brighten Mister Roberts' humdrum existence are his best friends, Ensign Frank Pulver (Jack Lemmon, in an Oscar-winning performance) and the ship's philosophical doctor (William Powell, in his final film appearance). Most of the laughs are provided by Pulver, officer "in charge of laundry and morale." When he isn't wheeling and dealing to bring a bevy of beautiful nurses on board the Reluctant, Pulver is concocting elaborate schemes to avenge himself against the Captain -- even though he's spent 14 months on the Reluctant without ever meeting his nemesis. The film's highlights include the efforts by Roberts, Pulver, and Doc to mix a bottle of Scotch from Coca-Cola, Iodine, and other vital ingredients; and Mister Roberts' (and later Ensign Pulver's) assertion of manhood by tossing the Captain's precious palm tree overboard. Halfway through shooting, legendary director John Ford was replaced, ostensibly because of illness, by Mervyn LeRoy. One of the finest service comedies ever made, Mister Roberts spawned a less amusing sequel, Ensign Pulver (1964), as well as a 1965 TV sitcom. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

No Time for Sergeants
Mac Hyman's hilarious barracks novel No Time for Sergeants was adapted for TV by Ira Levin in 1955, with newcomer Andy Griffith as bumptious Air Force draftee Will Stockdale. This TV version was soon afterward transformed into a Broadway play, and then a movie, again with Griffith in the lead. Brought to the Air Force base in handcuffs because his farmer father has been hiding his draft notices, good-natured Will becomes the target of ridicule for the other transcripts. Especially nasty is Private Irvin (Murray Hamilton), but Will is able to forgive him because he knows that Irvin is suffering from some mysterious disease called ROTC. Will's best pal is hot-headed private Ben (Nick Adams), who wants to be transferred to the Infantry and convinces Will to try for the same goal. Slowly becoming aware that the trusting, naïve Will may prove to be a troublemaker, career sergeant King (Myron McCormick), who wants nothing more out of life than a little peace and quiet, tries to keep Stockdale out of mischief by appointing him "PLO" -- Permanent Latrine Orderly, a dubious distinction in which Will takes enormous pride. Later on, King tries to pull strings to get Will transferred, succeeding only in losing his sergeant's stripes. The story goes off on a zany tangent when Will and Ben find themselves on a crippled plane in flight. They manage to escape with their lives, but all evidence suggests that they've been killed in the plane's crash. Imagine the dismay of newly reinstated Sergeant King when Will and Ben show up in his office -- just as the entire base is gathered for a memorial service for the two "fallen heroes." Featured in a minor role as a "coordination officer" is Griffth's future TV cohort Don Knotts, while Sammy Jackson, who played Stockdale in a 1964 sitcom version of No Time for Sergeants, shows up in an unbilled bit. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Henry Fonda
    Henry Fonda - Lt. Doug Roberts
  • James Cagney
    James Cagney - Captain Morion
  • William Powell
    William Powell - Doc
  • Jack Lemmon
    Jack Lemmon - Ens. Frank Thurlowe Pulver
  • Betsy Palmer
    Betsy Palmer - Lt. Ann Girard
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