The movie was adapted by Joshua Logan and Frank S. Nugent from the long-running play by Logan and Thomas Heggen, which was adapted from the novel by Heggen. It was directed by John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy and Joshua Logan (uncredited).
The film was William Powell's last movie before his death. Fonda reprised the role he had played on Broadway.
Mister Roberts was followed by a sequel, Ensign Pulver, in 1964. It was remade for telelvision in 1984, starring Robert Hays, Kevin Bacon, Charles Durning, Marilu Henner, Howard Hesseman and Joe Pantoliano. It was directed by Melvin Bernhardt. There was also a television series in 1965, Roger Smith, Steve Harmon and Richard X. Slattery.