Saturday, February 6, 2010

Best Supporting Actor-reviews: Mister Roberts (1955)


You thought I forgot my Supporting Actor reviews, but I didn't, I was just preparing. So right now here we are again and I am going to continue with the review of this very entertaining war movie starring Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell and my all-time favorite actor, Jack Lemmon. It's some kind of a shame that I could not watch this movie, but I did not have the opportunity.
But... Mister Roberts is about a deeply bored Navy officer, Mister Roberts (Fonda) who is tired of his dull life on a Navy cargo ship. Unfortunately his tyrannical bosss (Cagney) refuses to sign his transfer papers. However, this boredom doesn't last long because of the constant conflicts on the ship.
Now, let me tell you that I love war movies, but this movie is rather a millitary comedy with minimal drama in it and there are no battles or anything like that. In spite of that it's very-very entertaining, and contrary to Mister Riberts I was never bored by this movie. It had witty dialogues, hilarious scenes (mostly the ones including Lemmon or Cagney) and solid performances by superstars.
Henry Fonda reprised his Tony-winning performance as Doug Roberts. As far as I am concerned, Henry Fonda had some disagreements with director John Ford. I don't know whose version of Mr. Roberts was on the screen, but he was right. Fonda gives a typically strong and memorable performance and I think if it hadn't been such a strong year for leading men, he would have received a nomination.
The two aging superstars, William Powell (this was his last movie) and James Cagney are simply excellent, especially Cagney, but the best line of the movie definitely belongs to Powell. I guess those who have seen this movie know which one I am talking about (yes, the Ding Dong one). And Cagney is really enjoyable as the bossy and arrogant captain.
And of course there's Best Supporting Actor-winner Jack Lemmon as Frank Pulver, the big-mouthed and lazy loser, who's simply hilarious. It's a typical scene-stealing performance and an especially good one at that. Of course he does not reach the heights of Days of Wine and Roses or The Apartment, but I really think he deserved the supporting Oscar, because he created a very unique and colorful character and his "14 months" scene is alone worthy of the award. He's not one of the best winners, but a really worthy one.
John Ford who left the project before finishing and Melvyn LeRoy did a great job in directing, Frank S. Nugent and Joshua Logan (who went on to direct Sayonara) managed to write a very good screenplay and they managed to make an excellent movie, which might have been even worthy of the Best Picture nomination.
Grade: 8.5/10
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Jack Lemmon, WON); Best Sound Recording
My wins: Lemmon, definitely :-)

1 comment:

Cal said...

I wasn't so keen on Mister Roberts but Jack Lemmon was particularly adorable in it. Happy about this nomination.