Trivia / Mister Roberts

  • Backed by the Pentagon: Eventually. At first the US Navy was not happy that the movie was to be made at all - Capt. Morton was not the kind of officer the Navy wanted the public to see - and was going to withhold all cooperation with the filmmakers. It took the influence of John Ford, a former Navy captain, on some of his friends at Navy headquarters in Washington to secure the Navy's cooperation.
  • Career Resurrection: For Henry Fonda. He hadn't starred in a feature film since Fort Apache and had been greylisted due to his political beliefs.
  • Creator Backlash: Both John Ford and Mervyn Leroy disowned the film.
    • Henry Fonda felt that the film wasn't as good as the play. He later admitted, "I despised that movie".
  • Creative Differences: Between John Ford and Henry Fonda. This is why the latter quit the film.
  • Dawson Casting: Henry Fonda was 49, much older than the average lieutenant junior grade.
  • Prima Donna Director: John Ford. Punching your leading man in the face makes you this.
    • When For met James Cagney at the airport, the director warned that they would "tangle asses," which caught Cagney by surprise. Cagney later said: "I would have kicked his brains out. He was so goddamned mean to everybody. He was truly a nasty old man." The next day, Cagney was slightly late on set, and Ford became incensed. Cagney cut short the imminent tirade, saying: "When I started this picture, you said that we would tangle asses before this was over. I'm ready now - are you?" Ford backed down and walked away and he and Cagney had no further conflicts on the set.
  • Star-Making Role: For Jack Lemmon.
  • Troubled Production: It seemed like a dream project for Warner Bros.: John Ford directing his long-time collaborator Henry Fonda in an adaptation of Fonda's popular Broadway show. The movie was indeed successful, but proved a headache for the studio and a thoroughly miserable project for everyone concerned.
    • During pre-production Ford, himself a Navy veteran, toned down the play's more subversive content in hopes of getting Navy approval. Thus the movie elides the stage version's profanity and makes the villainous captain more comedic than evil. To compensate, Ford added broad slapstick comedy and expanded the role of Ensign Pulver.
    • This didn't sit well with Fonda, who'd played Roberts onstage for six years and was fiercely protective of his role. He and Ford were at loggerheads before filming even started, sparring over script changes and Ford's encouraging costars Lemmon and James Cagney to ad-lib dialogue. After the first day's shooting on Midway Island, Ford and Fonda had a violent row which culminated in Ford punching Fonda in the face. Ford apologized profusely, but the damage was done: the two barely spoke for the rest of the shoot, and never again collaborated.
    • This incident pushed Ford over the edge: usually abstemious while filming, Ford began drinking heavily, and was hospitalized in Hawaii for alcohol poisoning. Ford recovered enough to start shooting interiors back in Hollywood, but soon required gallbladder surgery. Ford's health and erratic behavior convinced Warner Bros. to act: with shooting about half-completed, Mervyn Leroy was assigned to replace Ford.
    • Leroy finished shooting without further incident, but Warner Bros. executives (and Henry Fonda) weren't satisfied, feeling the style and tone of Leroy's scenes contrasted jarringly with Ford's work. At Fonda's suggestion Joshua Logan, who'd directed the stage version of Roberts, reshot several key scenes. Warners frantically tried to match the three directors' work together in post-production. Roberts earned mostly good reviews and proved a box office hit, though Ford and Logan virtually disowned it and Fonda later claimed "I despised that movie."
  • Wag the Director: Henry Fonda, having been in the original play, felt that he knew it more than anyone. And he went through three directors.
  • What Could Have Been: This was to have originally been shot in 3-D. However, the death of the trend at the time prevented this
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/MisterRoberts