Mister Roberts (1955)
Talk about one of the finest war films in cinematic history. Starring Henry Fonda, Jack Lemmon, and James Cagney, this award-winning comedy-drama is the quintessential guy movie. It's got war, it's got honor, it's got men being men. But mostly it has a lot of heart.
Mr. Roberts (Henry Fonda) is the cargo supervisor on the USS Reluctant (a.k.a. "The Bucket"), an American cargo ship lying stagnant in the Pacific Ocean during World War II. Roberts desperately wants to leave the tedium of his post to join in the action of war. Weekly he writes for a transfer, but the captain of the ship (James Cagney) is a tyrant over the crew, especially Roberts, and chooses to forward all of his letters with his stamp of disapproval. The Captain's only real pride is a palm tree that was given to him as reward for "his" hard work and effort in delivering cargo. The men all look up to Roberts and how he stands up to the Captain, but things change when Roberts somehow finagles a "liberty" for the men in a beautiful South Pacific port.
Also on board is Robert's cabin-mate Ensign Pulver (Jack Lemmon), who does all he can to avoid confrontation with the captain and instead bides his time buying and selling for hard-to-get items on the ship. He also spends time telling people how one day he's going to get even with the Captain's tyranny, whether it be putting marbles in his overhead or launching a firecracker under his bunk.
Also complimenting Ford and Lemmon's performances is William Powell, who plays Doc. He acts as Mr. Robert's sounding board, and also his voice of reason. This was Powell's last film before he retired from acting. The powerful accomplishments of the male cast make this film a great way to celebrate our war heroes, and masculinity!
This post is dedicated to my Dad, whose recent passing has put my blogging at a stand-still for a while. But this was his favorite movie, and would always bring a tear to his eye (and my eye, as well). I love you Dad, and I miss you. "Now what's all this crud about no movie tonight??"