The summer of 1942 brought Naval stalemate to the Pacific as the American and Japanese fleets stood at even numbers each waiting for the other to begin a renewed offensive. "Midway" tells the story of this historic June battle where a Japanese carrier force, in an attempt to occupy Midway island and lure the American fleet to destruction, was meet valiently by US forces operating off of three aircraft carriers and numerous escort ships. It was the first battle in which naval air power was extensivly used, and at its conclusion the Japanese Carrier force had been completly destroyed which lead the way for the US 1943 and 44 offensives which would eventually bring the Pacific War to a close. Written by
Anthony Hughes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Almost all the on-board scenes were filmed on the USS Lexington. Lexington was an Essex-class "fast carrier" commissioned in February, 1943. Even some of the "Japanese carriers" shown in birds-eye views were actually Lexington (with the film reversed to put the island superstructure on the port side whereas all US carriers had them on the starboard side) Lexington, decommissioned in 1991, was the longest serving carrier in history. Lexington is now a museum ship at Corpus Christi, Texas. See more »
A title card late in the movie lists as June 6, 1942, which was the last day of the Battle of Midway and the day the Hiryu was hit. In fact, all four of the Japanese carriers were hit all on the very same day which was June 4, with the Hiryu being hit late in the afternoon, not two days later. See more »
Saturday night TV is a bit of a dead zone down here so I suppose one should be grateful for the odd watchable movie, even if its 20 years old. This one looks older than it actually is, due to the liberal use of stock footage and a cast that's a retirement counsellor's dream. A relatively youthful Charlton Heston is in the lead, but there's Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford, Robert Mitchum, Robert Webber and even the great Japanese actor Toshiro Mifune. A curious aspect is that every military character with a speaking part is an officer; the grunts just get to grunt. It's very much the view from the bridge (and the pilot's seat). Despite this aspect and the attempt at historical realism it's not made clear quite how it was that the Japanese made the error that cost them the battle, getting caught with their flightdecks full just as the American torpedo bombers arrived. The contribution of the American land-based aircraft is also given scant recognition.
Still you do get a bit of a story, though the less said about the silly sub-plot involving the Heston character's son and a Japanese-American girl the better. The director, Jack Smight had extensive T V experience, as did many of the younger actors, and this shows up in the rather static dialogue scenes you get when you aren't allowed to move the cameras much. The Japanese voices are dubbed, so that Paul Free, the voice of Boris Badenov in "Bullwinkle," (and countless other cartoon characters) is Admiral Yamamoto. The music was written by John Williams who a year or so later did the music for "Star Wars" and you can sense the similarities.
In the film the military operations side of things abounds with anacronisms, partly due to the liberal use of stock footage as mentioned. I don't think you can be too hard on the producers (the low profile but financially successful Mirisch Brothers) for not using a real Japanese World War 2 aircraft carrier since they are all at the bottom of the sea, but the crashed jet on the Yorktown's flightdeck was a bit sloppy. "Tora Tora Tora," which cost more money, was a better film. Not because it cost more money but because it was more carefully made, more balanced (both side's story told well) and more honest, perhaps also because it dealt with defeat rather than victory from the American viewpoint. "Midway" has some suspense, plenty of action, and the the patriotism drum is not banged to the point of pain.
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