Despite being produced explicitly as a propaganda film during World War II, this adaptation of Ted W. Lawson’s account of his own experiences as a pilot during the famous Doolittle raid on Tokyo is a remarkably authentic account of the daring air attack on April 18, 1942. Still, some elements of this are sufficiently dated that this is one classic film that could stand a modern remake.
Despite having two directors with somewhat clashing styles, being noticeably dated in places, and a little too obviously based on a stage play, Mister Roberts still works as a classic comedy and a war movie in which the only violence is committed upon a pair of hapless palm trees.
The Tony-winning play by Joshua Logan and Frank L. Nugent had already run for seven years on Broadway when the film was made and Henry Fonda had played the role of Lt. (jg) Doug Roberts 1,300 times before a frame of film had been shot. It’s safe to say that he didn’t need reheasal.