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The first time I saw TTT I was a twelve-year old at Lackland Air Force
base in the early '70's. The film did well at the base theatre, but
bombed at the box office elsewhere. Those of you my age and older will
nod knowingly at what you are about to read. I offer no apology for
what follows - this is simply the way it was.....
When my fellows and I would play war, EVERY kid wanted to be the American GI's. We drew lots for those playing the Germans (we called them krauts) and argued the next day on whose turn came next. No one even deigned to play the Japanese (a word unknown to us). One boy said his father would beat him if that ever happened. Our fathers and uncles talked about Jap cars being junk and Jap tools breaking in half. Your older brother mentioned a boy getting jap-slapped in gym class. We complained about Jap toys not being as good as American-made ones. We even thought there was something wrong with their (the Japanese) eyesight because their eyes were shaped differently (we called them slanted). This was my generation, and it was more so for the previous one. That is why TTT did so poorly when it premiered across America. There were still a lot of hard feelings abounding (watching the film as a child, the audience around me roared every time a Japanese aeroplane was shot down). As I got older, I learned the inappropriateness of certain words, but thirty-five years ago, we saw history differently. Watch this film for what it is and enjoy it.
A lot of great things about this movie. Realism, visual effects, the
Japanese acting, fantastic. Tora! Tora! Tora! is well written and well
paced - the editing is tight, if dizzying and confusing.
Problem is, Fleischer's ham-fisted directing and some lousy post-production.
Honestly, he's NOT a good director. Besides the great actors in this movie (Robinson, Robards, Balsam, etc.), all the other actors deliver flat, unconvincing, hackneyed performances. What excuse could you have for framing that cuts off people's heads, or leaves 2/3 of the top of the frame empty to no artistic purpose ? And ohhhh, those sound effects - besides being the same wall-to-wall clichés, the mix is so bad, whole lines of dialog spoken RIGHT into the camera disappear completely.
Contrasted with the Japanese-directed segments, his weakness shows terribly.
He wasn't one of Hollywood's great directors. How dare I slander the work of the man who brought us Million Dollar Mystery, Red Sonja, Conan the Destroyer, Amityville 3-D... ? Guess I'm a jerk. Point is, someone else should've directed Tora! Tora! Tora!, and it would truly be a classic.
This movie had great actors, was shot on location for much of it and contained some very interesting history. However, it wasn't a great film, rather it was pretty flat for the first hour and a half. I think the length hurt without solid direction and the battle scene while very good was not enough to make this one a winner. Even the excellent Jason Robards didn't seem to have much of a chance to do anything here. I couldn't help but have the feeling it could have done a lot better with tightening up some of the history which came out somewhat confusing. For example, the time references on Dec. 7th were mixed up including a mistranslation of the Japanese language. Also, certain points of the story which could have been made to be very dramatic just sat there such as the anticipation of an attack on Nov. 30th that didn't happen. Ideas like these were just forgotten about leaving this viewer with an unsatisfied feeling as if somehow there was a cohesion that was lacking. The last 45 mins. with the battle scene was what really had an impact here. There, I got the whole review done without mentioning Pearl Harbor. Darn! No I didn't!!!
I just watched this movie (3rd or 4th time) again last night, and I was shocked to read that it was made in 1970. The sophistication of the screenplay is such that I thought it was from the mid-eighties, at least. The multitude of human, social factors involved in the U.S. failure and the Japanese (partial) success is given due consideration in the movie, as scenes with numerous political and military figures on both sides characterize the forces involved that lead inevitably to the attack. The sceenplay is thorough, relentless and intelligent. To make-simple and accessible a very tangled situation with many cross-currents and short circuits is a testament to the skill of the producers of this movie. I was very impressed that the producers were able to somehow manage scenes with period-correct ships and aircraft. I did not know there were that many Zero's, Kate's and P-40B's airworthy back in 1970. I'm not sure how they did it. The scenes on the runway are some of the most thrilling I have ever seen in cinema. I need to say that I think more time should have been devoted to the sailors trapped below decks. I know there was a fleeting scene where-in someone yelled "The hatch is jammed", but there should have been more, considering, perhaps especially, the travail of those trapped inside the U.S.S. Pennsylvania and the massive effort conducted to liberate them. An important movie, both historically and cinematically.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film leads up to and culminates in the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor which resulted in America entering World War 2. Although a bit long (144 minutes) it offers perspectives from a number of people who were either involved in the circumstances leading up to war or were personally affected by the decision. While historically correct for the most part I think it also bears mentioning that it also includes some opinions which have endured since this event that might not be as accurate as some people may believe. For example, many people have blamed "Major General Walter C. Short" (played by Jason Robards) for his decision to crowd the American airplanes together on the airfield which made them a very easy target for the Japanese dive-bombers. However, this decision was based on a logical assumption that sabotage from Japanese agents was a far greater threat than an actual surprise attack prior to a declaration of war. And while the movie presents his concern it also continues the unfair portrayal of incompetence which he had to endure until his untimely death 8 years later. He was eventually exonerated by the United States Senate in 1999. Be that as it may, this was an exciting film to watch with some very good action sequences and special effects. As a matter of fact it won the Academy Award that year for its special effects. That said, this movie should definitely interest those who enjoy films of this type. Above average.
This is the film that got me in to history. I'm a history nut now, especially about World War 2. This film sparked my interest in the subject of history and the Military particularly aviation(My dad is in the US Air Force). Now I know more about WW2 that some adults do. And everyone at school calls me the human dictionary. And this film is the start of it. Richard Fleischer really took it upon himself to review a movie that was 100% fact about Pearl Harbor. He perfectly showcased the Japanese precision of the attack and the elements that the United States was not aware of. The attack scene is excellent, especially for it's time. If it was done now, there's no doubt it would be 100% CGI. This was done before that business even existed. It's intense and spectacular to watch. A perfect grand finale for one of the greatest films in history!
This is the true story of the events leading up to and including the
attack on Pearl Habor. Two things stand out in this version as oppose
to Michael Bay's version. It goes into a lot of the historical details
leading up to the attack. And the action is done with real planes and
look the better for it.
I can't debate how accurate it is. There's certainly enough there that's heavily researched. The biggest risk is the heavy concentration on the Japanese side of the story. They account for half the screen time. And it's quite informative. These Japanese are not some Hollywood movie creations.
Not only do the characters come off as real. So too does the action. Sure this is a lot of miniature models. That's to be expected for the era. However the crazy number of planes and the real action is truly jaw dropping. There are some stunts there that just can't be believed. I take this over any amount of CG that Michael Bay can come up with. This has some of the best of the old fashion big Hollywood war extravaganza.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
For someone who has studied the events that took place at Pearl Harbor
in the December of 1941 in detail for years, and for someone whose
great uncle partook and survived those events, the 1970 film 'Tora!
Tora! Tora!' is literally like looking through a window into history
itself. Dim-witted viewers may prefer Michael Bay's awfully written and
poorly directed chick-flicked version of the story from 2001, which is
a travesty and an insult to those who were there. I'm fine with that.
If they want to watch Michael Bay's 'Pearl Harbor' while they breast
feed their three year olds and release their pet pythons into the
Everglades, I'm perfectly cool. But to those who prefer thoughtful
films with realistic action, careful direction, and scenarios that make
sense, comes an underrated masterpiece. That underrated masterpiece is
'Tora! Tora! Tora!'. Not only does it successfully tell the true story
of Pearl Harbor in a documentary-style fashion while managing to keep
the audience interested, but it also succeeds as a film where 'Pearl
Harbor' does not. 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' has the most realistic battle
sequences ever filmed, the greatest special effects in a war film, the
greatest movie sets ever built (Which include an entire recreation of
the Japanese Battleship Nagato, an entire section of the USS Arizona's
stern, and the flight deck and bridge of the Carrier Akagi,
meticulously accurate, although the bridge is on the starboard side
rather than port as it was in real life), the greatest sound effects in
a war film other than those of 'Platoon'... Need I go on?
In short, it is a spectacular and realistic film that sticks fully to the facts, rather than speculation or fiction, or romantic nonsense like Bay's film does. It tells the TRUE STORY of Pearl Harbor... The story of the Japanese military leaders and admirals who carefully plotted the attack out, the generals, admirals and officials on the American side who failed to heed the warnings and allowed it to happen, to the courageous and determined Japanese airmen who carried it out, to the equally as courageous and determined American soldiers and sailors on the burning airfields and sinking ships who tried to repulse it.
It does have some very minor inaccuracies, like the wing shapes and markings of the A6M Zeros, or the model of the B17s being flown by the American airmen coming in from the mainland, whom the Japanese were tragically mistaken for by the radar boys at Opana Point. It also shows sailors evacuating the USS Navada via rope ladders or simply jumping, which never happened. It also shows the destroyer USS Ward as a modern, post-1945 vessel, rather than the antiquated, WWI-era four-funneled destroyer she actually was. And, less noticeably, the Japanese Carrier Akagi's bridge is on the starboard side, rather than to port, as it was in real life. But this doesn't matter, since the film's film's portrayal of life aboard a Japanese Carrier, as well as the technical details involved, are still paramount.
But, other than these few, minor glitches, everything else in 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' is at least 99% accurate, from the way the USS Arizona looked when she exploded, to the moment in which Adm. Husband Kimmel (played wonderfully by Martin Balsam), said "It would have been merciful had it killed me," when a spent round of ammunition smashed through the window of his headquarters and scarred his jacket.
No film has ever shown the suffering and terror experienced by those who were there better than this film, from the burning corpses strewn across the decks of the Nevada to the horrific sight of the Arizona being consumed in an explosion that killed more than a thousand men in an instant. When watching the film, you can almost smell the burning fuel and feel the concussion of the bomb-hits. You can feel the jubilation of Cmdr. Mitsuo Fuchida in his B5N High-Level Bomber, high above the jagged Hawaiian hills, when he sees the U.S. fleet totally asleep and waiting for his flight to sink it, and the dismay Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto must have felt when he found out that his primary targets, the U.S. carriers Enterprise and Lexington, were out on a training exercise and out of the range of his own fleet.
'Tora! Tora! Tora!' is a realistic, terrifying, and fascinating film that every American should see, and a fine tribute to the brave few, on both sides, who were at Pearl Harbor on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, the morning in which America's hopes for peace in the Pacific capsized like the USS Oklahoma.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Midway has nothing on this film. In my view, this was the best war
movie I have ever seen in a long time. Albeit for a few others, but -
tora, tora, tora, showed both sides of the coin with the Americans, and
the Japanese at how a message was lost in the chain of paper flow for
General Marshall to read too late.
Roosevelt I think deliberately did this to spite the Japanese in bringing America into the war. Because of this, he halted all trade agreements from Japan, (Which was against the war rules act) and used preliminary means to stop the radar contact to go through as planned. This inevitably meant that the USA, and their government was to become the unwilling victim, by order of the president in secret, to hoist the troops into the war.
Japan's emperor himself saw this coming, and wanted nothing to do with the war. Yet as with all joint chiefs, and war mongrels the heads of state were nothing more than pawns. Since roosevelt was already part of the banking cartels he knew how prosperous war can be. With confusing messages from each department, nothing was really established until the fateful day at pearl harbour.
By rights, each department head was warned in some way or another, yet with all the surrealistic chains of command, nobody really knew what was happening. For me, this film had shown at how ignorance with the president showed his true colours. To make money at the expense of military men and women, to become the hand of the devil in order to sacrifice those few thousand men at pearl, along with the majestic ships that were docked there.
I don't think war in any shape or form is human, but when a man who runs a country uses those around him like a pawn for his own gains, then he should have been the one to drop the two bombs in Hiroshima, and Nagasaki in person. Not by some unmoral decision to get bombers to do it, and fly back home. Roosevelt was a coward, he goaded Japan, even went as far as to make sure all orders were from General Marshall, and nobody else. But since he knew what the General's official routines were, again used someone for his pleasure.
Tora Tora Tora, will live on as a great example at why even the Japanese generals, albeit a few of them were so opposed to attacking Pearl. Even the war. With the film midway all it was, was just a bunch of actors made to look good against a fake backdrop of many scenes in WWII. This movie however, was brilliantly made, with wonderful, although horrible acts of war. Explosions, flight scenes which takes my breath away, and the ocean scenes. Not a lot of music was played, which to me made a great impact.
All in all, I have to give this film ten stars, for the cast, the action, a great story for both sides, and above all the implication at why war is so unnecessary. Even the emperor himself was opposed like I mentioned before. I highly recommend this to anyone over age 14. You will be surprised by its remarkable scenery, and grandiose scale. Richard Fleischer did a wonderful job of directing.
Americans never really understood how they were dragged into World War
I during the period from 1914 to 1918; and the horrors that humanity
went through in that period, in which thirteen million people lost
their lives, made the United States, which, like the rest of the world,
was to suffer further horrors in the Great Depression of the 1930s,
wary of entering international conflicts that had nothing to do with
them. Even the rumblings from Adolf Hitler in Germany meant nothing to
the U.S.for a while, anyway. When Japanese emperor Hirohito ordered a
surprise attack on America's Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on
December 7, 1941, however, America woke up to a new kind of reality, as
the war was bought to their very doorstep. This was the story told with
frightening accuracy, from both sides of the conflict, in the
multi-national 1970 World War II epic TORA! TORA! TORA!
Based on Gordon Prainge's book "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and Landislas Farago's book "The Broken Seal", this well-mounted movie, which, at a cost of $25 million, was among the most expensive films made in Hollywood up to that time, focuses, on the way the Imperial Japanese navy prepared to do what its emperor was ordering of it, and the way the American military staff in Hawaii were trying to understand what they were up to. The truth of the matter is that America and Japan had both been at odds for some time over various issues regarding China and control of commerce in the Pacific at the time; both nations had been devastated by the Great Depression. Negotiations between the two countries were going on between the two for much of 1941; and if Japan could not get what it considered a fair deal from a country that was still largely considered isolationist and inferior in the eyes of the world, then it would take it all by force. As far as the American military was concerned, there was no indication that a sneak attack of any kind was imminent on them; and it was assumed diplomacy would work things out. It then came through a deciphering of secret Japanese communiques that an attack was under way; but by the time the deciphering was in the hands of the Pacific fleet staff, it was too late. Pearl Harbor was virtually destroyed in a matter of two hours; numerous battleships, including the "Arizona", sank to the bottom; and almost 2,500 people were killed. It was the greatest single loss of life in any attack on the United States...until September 11, 2001, of course.
It would have been tempting for 20th Century Fox, the studio that funded and distributed this film, to make it a jingoistic piece of propaganda and paint the United States as the victim (even the 2001 blockbuster PEARL HARBOR, a near-enough remake of TORA! TORA! TORA!, flirted with that); but, like on its 1962 classic THE LONGEST DAY, it avoided doing so. Instead, thanks to the participation of two prominent Japanese directors, along with veteran U.S. director Richard Fleischer (THE BOSTON STRANGLER; FANTASTIC VOYAGE), the film looks at the events leading up to December 7, 1941 from each side of the conflict, with the Japanese, including their revered Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Soh Yamamura), anxious to strike but knowing full well what it may mean for their empire in the end, and the Americans misreading Japanese intentions and disregarding the numerous warning signs until they are backed into a corner. The film gives equal credit to both sides, as befitting as accurate an account of history as Hollywood can muster.
Featuring the Oscar-winning special effects work of L.B. Abbott, A.D. Flowers, and Art Cruickshank, TORA! TORA! TORA! also features solid actors like Jason Robards, Martin Balsam, E.G. Marshall, Joseph Cotten, E.G. Marshall, Richard Anderson, George Macready, James Whitmore, Wesley Addy, Leon Ames, and others rounding out a fine cast, along with Goldsmith's always dependable scoring genius, which here combines American and Oriental themes in a unique way. By avoiding the romantic sub-plots and the gung-ho theatrics of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced and Michael Bay-directed PEARL HARBOR, TORA! TORA! TORA! makes itself stay truly memorable, and will certainly make the viewer wonder just how certain wars throughout history get started. In the case of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which led to six months of victory for them in the Pacific before they were ambushed at Midway in June 1942, it was a combination of misreadings, misunderstandings, and (on the part of the Japanese) the nerves of riverboat gamblers that made history happen. And as TORA! TORA! TORA! makes abundantly clear, such is often the way history gets made.
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