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1941 (1979)

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Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Robert Zemeckis (screenplay), Bob Gale (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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Popularity
4,503 ( 91)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Aykroyd ... Sgt. Frank Tree
Ned Beatty ... Ward Douglas
John Belushi ... Capt. Wild Bill Kelso
Lorraine Gary ... Joan Douglas
Murray Hamilton ... Claude Crumn
Christopher Lee ... Capt. Wolfgang von Kleinschmidt
Tim Matheson ... Capt. Loomis Birkhead
Toshirô Mifune ... Cmdr. Akiro Mitamura (as Toshiro Mifune)
Warren Oates ... Col. 'Madman' Maddox
Robert Stack ... Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell
Treat Williams ... Cpl. Chuck 'Stretch' Sitarski
Nancy Allen ... Donna Stratton
Lucille Benson ... Gas Mama (Eloise) (as Lucille Bensen)
Jordan Cohen Jordan Cohen ... Macey Douglas (as Jordan Brian)
John Candy ... Pvt. Foley
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Storyline

Hysteria grips California in the wake of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. An assorted group of defenders attempt to make the coast defensible against an imagined Japanese invasion, in this big budget, big cast comedy. Members of a Japanese submarine crew scout out the madness, along with a Captain in Germany's Kreigsmarine (Navy). Written by Keith Loh <loh@sfu.ca>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

Paranoia meets pandemonium. See more »

Genres:

Action | Comedy | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese | German | Spanish

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Japs Attacked See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,701,898, 16 December 1979

Gross USA:

$31,755,742

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$92,455,742
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Stereo (Todd-AO)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The advance teaser trailer for this movie, directed by John Milius, featured a voice-over by Dan Aykroyd as John Belushi lands his plane and gives the audience a pep-talk to join the armed forces, else they will find one morning that "the street signs will be written in Japanese!" See more »

Goofs

"Wild Bill" Kelso's leather jacket has patches on the right front pocket indicating that he has shot down three German and three Japanese planes. Given that the war had only been declared a few days before the time when the movie was set, it would not have been possible for him to go into combat against both the Germans and the Japanese in that period of time. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Title Card: On December 7, 1941, the Naval Air Arm of the Imperial Japanese Fleet, in a surprise attack, struck the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor and hurtled an unsuspecting America into World War II.
Title Card: American citizens were stunned, shocked and outraged at this treacherous attack. On the West Coast, paranoia gripped the entire population as panic-stricken citizens were convinced that California was the next target of the Imperial Japanese Forces.
Title Card: Major General Joseph W. Stilwell, ...
[...]
See more »

Crazy Credits

End credits feature scenes showing cast members screaming. See more »

Alternate Versions

The version released on network television and VHS/DVD/laserdisc is Spielberg's original director's cut, running 146 minutes, fleshing out sub-plots and characterizations, including:
  • Wally and Dennis getting thrown out onto the street by Mr. Malcomb after he fires them from the diner where they work.
  • Miss Fitzroy lecturing a group of women, Betty and Maxine among them, about tonight's USO dance which is interupted by a group of Army service men and Sailors entering and chanting wanting the women.
  • A department store scene with Wally fussing about buying an expensive new zoot suit and Dennis sounding a phoney air-raid siren which leads to panic in the store including a gun-toting Santa Claus yelling out command orders which is revealed to be a set up by Wally who walks out of the store wearing the zoot suit while Dennis meets the twin girls for the first time.
  • A scene with Scioli outside his house arguing with his non-English speaking wife about converting their car into an armored car while talking with Claude about sending him and someone else atop the Santa Monica ferris wheel on a spot mission for Japanese planes.
  • A extra scene with Ito and the I-19 Japanese submarine shore party disguising themselves as Christmas trees in a remote Christmas tree lot and the drunken Hollis Wood trying to "chop" them down which leads to his capture.
  • Scioli arriving at the ferris wheel with Claude and Herbie and explaing to them about their mission in the ferris wheel.
  • A dinner scene at the Douglas home and Ward explaining to Betty about her going to the USO dance and telling her about the pros and cons about meeting servicemen.
  • A barracks scene with Odgen Johnson Jones arriving for the first time at the barracks and imediately quarling with the racist Foley about property lines within their quarters.
  • A scene outside the USO club where Wally arrives and meets with Martinez and his Zoot Suit friends where they are denied access to the club where Corporal Stretch shows up and sets Wally's zoot suit afire which nearly leads to a riot between the Zoot Suiters and the Servicemen. Wally then meets Dennis dressed up as a Marine in order to gain entrance into the club with the twins as his dates.
  • Additional dialoge between Captain Birkhead and Donna in their car on the way to the airstrip and being afraid of the dark.
  • Another barracks scene where Sergeant Tree breaks up a fistfight between Jones and Foley by informing them about the riot on Hollywood Blvd. and showing them climing into their tank and starting it up.
  • A scene of the Japanese submarine I-19 arriving for the first time outside the Douglas house and the sub's entire crew on the deck watching Joan Douglas taking a bath through the bathroom window.
  • A scene of the tank traveling down a residential street and Wally shooting up Officer Miller's police car to pieces, sending the policeman and some paserby's running for their lives.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Martin Sheen/David Bowie (1979) See more »

Soundtracks

When I See an Elephant Fly
(uncredited)
Music by Oliver Wallace
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Performed by Cliff Edwards, Jim Carmichael and the Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Expensive and big budgeted comedy about the chaotic events after the bombing of Pearl Harbor
17 April 2012 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

A spectacular , sprawling comedy in which hysteria grips California , it is packed with a big cast , entertainment and amusement . Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor . Chaos erupts all over the state in the wake of the bombing , as a family , formed by a father (Ned Beatty) , mother (Lorraine Gary) and sons prepare for an imagined invasion . An assorted misfit group of soldiers (sergeant : Dan Aykroyd , Privates : Treat Williams , John Candy , Frank McRae , among others) attempt to make the coast defensible against an possible Japanese invasion . Crew of a Japanese submarine under command a stiff captain (Toshiro Mifune) scout out the L.A. coast , along with a German officer (Christopher Lee) and they have picked Hollywood as their own target . An Army General (Robert Stack), civilian defenders , deranged Privates , a nutty pilot (John Belushi) and many others all end up on the way of a lost Japanese submarine .

This big budget brought by great Production Companies as Universal and Columbia is starred by an all-star-cast and proved to be the most expensive comedy of all time , 35.000 dollars . This lavish film combines rip-roaring , noisy action , adventure , tongue-in-cheek and lots of action and undisciplined humor . The movie gets entertained and hilarious moments here and there , with some side-splitting situations . This slapstick contains funny scenes , though slowdown and laughters come quickly . The depiction of L.A. in the chaotic after the bombing of Pearl Harbor blends elements of black humor , action and fantasy . However , it contains some flaws , gaps and humorous set-pieces are badly developed . Spielberg here shows he could bomb out the best of them when he made this uneven comedy with regular sense of staging and average pacing , including the silly scenes between Tim Matheson and Nancy Allen . Top-of-the-range star cast who includes veteran secondaries as Toshiro Mifune , Christopher Lee , Elisa Cook Jr , Slim Pickens , Lionel Stander ; furthermore cameos of notorious filmmakers as Samuel Fuller , John Landis and Penny Marshall . Special mention to John Belushi as an absolute disaster pilot , everything he touches turns to ashes . Superbly orchestrated comedy/adventure by the maestro John Williams , as always . Colorful and evocative cinematography by William A Fraker . The picture was nominated for three Oscars but achieved none . In spite of ¨1941¨ was a flop and failed at the box office , very few filmmakers can boast a string of successes as gigantic as Steven Spielberg , an excellent director with his knowledge of the mechanics of cinema gets entertainment and amusement who placed him right at the top of Hollywood tree such as ¨Jaws , Close encounters in third phase , Raiders of the lost ark and its sequels , Empire of the Sun , Purple color , Saving Private Ryan , Munich ¨ and many others .


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