“We’ve got nothing to do with the war. Maybe that’s why we’re on this ship, cause we’re not good enough to fight. Cause our glands don’t secrete enough adrenaline, or our great-great-grandmothers were afraid of the dark or something.”
When director John Ford teamed up with actor Henry Fonda for Young Mr Lincoln, I got exactly what I expected form a biopic about an American president made by John Ford, starring Henry Fonda. It was very earnest, very respectful, and very reverential. So when I fired up Mister Roberts and saw John Ford’s name appear in the credits, I was expecting a similar earnest, respectful, reverential approach to American sailors during the Second World War. While I did get that to some degree, I got a lot of stuff I didn’t expect as well.
World War II is underway in the Pacific. Aboard the merchant ship the USS Reluctant, morale is low. Under the official leadership of the despotic, Napoleonic Captain Morton (James Cagney), the men actually follow their much more beloved cargo officer, Lt. Roberts (Henry Fonda). As the movie opens, none of the men have the left the ship for any form of recreation leave in over a year. (more…)