M-151 "Jeep"-type vehicles used in many scenes were from the 1960s not 1940s. Note horizontal grill bars. The M151 MUTT was the successor to the Korean War M38 and M38A1 jeep Light Utility Vehicles and was produced from 1959 through 1982.
The "Powell-Hyde" cable car prominently featured is the present day Powell Street style of car that was running on the route in the 1960s when the film was made, but not in the 1940s at the time of the story. At that time both the style of the cars and the routing was different. California Street RR Company style cars ran on Hyde via the O'Farrell and Jones Street route.
(01:53:20) When Ensign Annalee Dorne (Jill Haworth) and Captain Paul Eddington (Kirk Douglas) break away from the beach party she goes over a short rise in the beach, as he pursues her and calls out to her, "Hey Dorn!", you can see the shadow of a boom mic in the sand.
When Eddington takes the PBJ to scout the Japanese fleet, he sits in the right hand seat. The pilot of a fixed wing aircraft always sits in the left hand seat when the seats are side by side. This even applies to student pilots. The instructor will fly right seat.
After Eddington identifies the IJN Yamato, Mac refers to it as an 80,000-ton vessel. At this point in the war, U.S. intelligence had only suspicions of the Yamato's existence; even when its presence in the Pacific was confirmed, it was believed to be a 40,000-ton ship and its actual full load was just shy of 73,000 tons. Furthermore, Eddington counts twelve guns aboard Yamato. In actuality, Yamato mounted nine 18-inch guns.
When McConnell first arrives aboard the Cassidy, the other officers are playing cribbage. One officer counts his hand and then says, "Your crib" whereupon the other player counts the crib. This is incorrect cribbage play. The crib belongs to the dealer who counts his hand second after the non-dealer, or "pone." The count would not go from counting the pone's hand directly to counting the crib. The correct sequence of these things is very strictly observed in cribbage.
On the Cassidy's bridge early in the Pearl Harbor attack, an officer answers an intercom phone saying, "Bridge Aye Aye." Only a rube of a landlubber would say this. The correct acknowledgment would be "Bridge Aye." "Aye Aye" is reserved for accepting an order.
Early in the movie while Liz Eddington and her lover are fleeing the Japanese attack in his Lincoln convertible, they crash into a truck and leave the road in flames and the Lincoln changes into a Ford.
When Captain Paul Eddington absconds with the long range bomber to scout out the Japanese, he scrambles into the plane leaving the entry door open, hanging down. There is no one to close the door, and Eddington leaves seconds later with the entry door closed.
When the 'Cassidy' is starting her run from Pearl Harbor during the attack, her stern depth charge racks are empty. Yet several minutes later when the captain and exec are astern trying to catch up, the stern depth charge racks are full.
At the beginning of the film Liz Eddington leaves the Officer's Club without a purse. She leaps out of the car at the beach with a purse in her right hand (above her head). She then undresses with no purse in either hand. The following morning on the beach, she opens her purse to put on makeup and comb her hair.
When Torrey visits his son on the PT Boat, there is a "gun crew" in the background, but neither the gun nor any of the "men" ever move at all. This exact same "crew" is seen actually moving in the Torrey/Eddington scene after leaving the brig.
During the surface battle, Torrey and his staff are all without life jackets or helmets. When at general quarters, battle stations, all topside personnel, those not in the enclosed compartments below the main deck, would be wearing life jackets. Almost all personnel would be wearing helmets.
While sitting in Adm. Torrey's office, Maggie and Torrey have the radio on. The Japanese show comes on with the lady calling herself "Tokyo Rose." At no time during the war did Iva Toguri call herself that. She referred to herself as Ann, Orphan Ann or Your Number One Enemy. At no time did Toguri ever broadcast any type of propaganda. The producer of the show was an Australian officer captured at Singapore and tortured. His assistants were an American officer and a Filipino officer. Toguri had been smuggling food into the POW camps before being forced to go on the air. She continued to do so afterwards.
CAPT. Eddington, while flying over the Japanese Battleship Yamato, states that "she's got twelve (12) big guns" while in the WWII combat footage shown, the Yamato and her nine (9) 18" guns can be seen clearly.
John Wayne's character makes a comment to Burgess Meredith's character about his marrying three Hollywood actresses. In reality, the man upon whom Meredith's character was based, Rear Admiral Gene Markey, USNR did not marry the third actress, Myrna Loy, until January, 1946 - four months after World War II had ended.
The cruiser used in the beginning of the movie, U.S.S. St. Paul CA-73, did not enter service until 1945. It had twin 3" gun mounts in place of quad 40mm by the time the movie was filmed. Also the 3" has radar dishes clearly visible on each mount.
When Eddington is killed and his plane is shot down, Admiral Torrey and the other officers present on base listening to his transmissions can hear the sounds of the plane's destruction coming through the radio on the plane. While this would be electronically possible, it is highly unlikely because Eddington or some other force would have to be holding the button on the microphone down to be transmitting a signal.
At the formalities bestowing Admiral's rank on Capt. Torrey, Admiral Nimitz (CINCPAC II) said "After the formalities of the ceremonies peter out, join Egan and me." Admiral Torrey was briefed and then Adm Nimitz handed Torrey his old 2 stars for the collar, and said, "If there was any luck in them, you're gonna need it." Torrey thanked him, and then standing, still within Nimitz's "zone" (to Adm. Nimitz) merely turned and left. In practice, this would never happen. Adm. Torrey would have taken one step rearward still facing Adm. Nimitz, came to attention, and then been "dismissed," although it might have been an understood dismissal and not verbalized.
There are several aircraft types referred to in the film:R4D, PBY, F4F, PBJ. Those are all naval designations, although two of them have Army (and/or Air Corps) equivalents, namely and R4D is also a C-47, and a PBJ is also a B-25. When Torrey is at the observer's post talking to Mrs. McConnell, he identifies an aircraft as an AT-6, which is the Air Corps designation for a trainer (the principal trainer in WWII) known in the Navy as an SNJ. However, the Army had more air bases on Oahu than the Navy at the time, and Torrey would have known the difference between the Army's AT-6 and a Navy SNJ. If the plane belonged to the Army, he would have correctly identified it as an AT-6.
When Torrey and Eddington are coming from the brig they look at a cruiser leaving "to join Halsey". What is shown is a poor model of a Baltimore class heavy cruiser (some secondary gun mounts and the foremast are missing). The Baltimore class did not enter service until 1943, so could not be leaving Pearl Harbor soon after the attack.
During the attack on Pearl Harbor, Admiral Kimmel (Franchot Tone) says, "Out of 9 battleships?" There were only 8 BB's in Pearl at the time. Some might consider the USS UTAH as the ninth but she'd been a radio-controlled target ship since the '30's. And actually, there was only 7 that might have gotten underway as the USS PENNSYLVANIA was in drydock.
During the Pearl Harbor attack, the fleet commander is referred to as CINCPAC (Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet) but this title came later when Nimitz assumed command. At the time of the attack, the title was "Commander in Chief United States Fleet in the Pacific" or CINCUS. Since this was pronounced "Sink Us," the name was replaced as quickly as possible after Pearl Harbor.
As Nimitz reads Torrey's promotion orders, he says Torrey is being appointed to the rank of "Rear Admiral Lower Half." This is a postwar title (1947) and during WWII, the correct name for Torrey's new rank was "Rear Admiral" (2-stars), which is a two-step promotion from Captain stepping over the 1-star rank of Commodore.
The action takes place in the Solomon Islands, though they are renamed. The IJN Yamato, never ventured into the Solomon's due to fuel consumption issues. Also, it was not until 1944 that the IJN Yamato fired her guns in combat.
When Commander Eddington climbs into the airplane to look for the Japanese fleet, he is flying from the right (co-pilot's) seat. As an experienced pilot, he would automatically fly from the left (pilot's) seat.
When Capt. Torrey returns home and finds Cdr. Powell on the couch, Cdr. Powell has a copy of PHOTOPLAY on his chest. As Torrey and Powell discuss Vickie Marlowe and wave the magazine around, one can see where the name PHOTOPLAY was just pasted at the top of the magazine's cover (note curled edges on either side and marked line at bottom of PHOTOPLAY name).
The car in which the Army Air Corps Officer and Liz Eddington had an apparent head-on collision with a truck, causing it to burst into flames. However, when the car goes over the embankment engulfed in flames, there is no apparent collision damage to the front of the car.
CINCPAC I is reprimanding Rock (Capt. Torrey) and relieving him of his command because "he wasn't zig-zagging at the time of the torpedo attack." While this appeared incorrect due to Capt. Torrey having given specific orders to resume zig-zagging before the torpedo attack directly to Lt. Cmdr. Burke (Carroll O'Connor) after having run a straight course for a time to conserve fuel, the fact is that CINCPAC I was notifying Torrey of the board of inquiry. The decision to resume the zig-zag would have been brought out at the inquiry.. While it may appear the Navy would never reprimand a naval captain for taking such initiative after the massive attack on Pearl Harbor, CINCPAC I explained to Torrey he was caught in the vacuum between the peacetime and wartime Navy.
When the car driven by the Air Corps Major and Liz Eddington goes off the side of the road the passenger compartment is clearly fully engulfed in flames and the "occupants"/dummies are burning, yet CDR. Eddington has no difficulty in providing positive identification of his wife's body at the Morgue.
Given the amount flames shown on the bodies and following the impact with the beach rocks there would be very little of Liz Eddington identifiable to anyone.
As the Cassidy is attacking the sub in the beginning of the film, we are given what is supposed to be Eddington's viewpoint through binoculars on the cruiser. The "view" we see is, however, clearly taken from an aircraft.
Just before the car crashes into the truck, it is seen on fire. The fire could not have happened until the collision, revealing it was set prior to the collision for dramatic effect. Contrary to what is often televised, collisions of that nature do not produce instant explosions.
The goof item below may give away important plot points.
In the hospital ship approaching Pearl Harbor, Rockwell Torrey is told that he had been asleep for almost three weeks. If this was the case, he would have been totally dependent upon intravenous feeding, yet there were no IV lines anywhere in sight.