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

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(screenplay), (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
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4,732 ( 345)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
Ward Douglas
...
...
Joan Douglas
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Claude Crumn
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Capt. Wolfgang von Kleinschmidt
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Cmdr. Akiro Mitamura (as Toshiro Mifune)
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...
...
Cpl. Chuck 'Stretch' Sitarski
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Lucille Benson ...
Gas Mama (Eloise) (as Lucille Bensen)
Jordan Brian ...
Macey Douglas
...
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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:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

| | |

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night the Japs Attacked  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

(35 mm prints)| (70 mm prints)| (Todd-AO)

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In a 1990 interview with British film pundit Barry Norman, Steven Spielberg admitted that the mixed reception to the film was one of the biggest lessons of his career citing personal arrogance that had got in the way after the runaway success of Jaws (1975) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977). He also regretted ceding control of the action and miniature sequences (such as the Ferris wheel collapse in the film's finale) to second unit directors and model units, something which he would not do in his next film - Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). See more »

Goofs

In the Ferris Wheel scene, Claude Crumn is seeing shooting at the Japanese with a Remington 700, which wasn't introduced until 1962. 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 »

Connections

References Animal House (1978) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Ohio
Music by Abe Olman (uncredited)
Lyrics by Jack Yellen (uncredited)
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

This film was made for 1% of the population. Happily, I'm in that 1%.
23 April 2001 | by (Los Angeles, Ca) – See all my reviews

Steven Speilberg once asked a friend of mine, "Why didn't anyone like this movie?" Well, I think that I can answer that - "1941" is a gigantic in-joke. The people who are in on the joke are people who, like myself, have an oversized love and knowledge of the city of Los Angeles and it's history. I think that in the vast, world-wide movie-going public, this group probably comprises 1%. For that group, "1941" has a wonderful nostalgia value. And for the people in that 1% that have a twisted sense of humor and enjoy seeing nostalgic L.A. blown to bits, this movie really delivers. By the way, the folks with that twisted sense of humor probably account for about 1% of the original 1%.

I don't know why, but having grown up in L.A. and being an aficionado of it's history, I find it funny to see planes in a dogfight over Hollywood Blvd, the ferris wheel rolling off the end of Santa Monica Pier, and aircraft crashing into the La Brea Tarpits. But for non-locals and people unfamiliar with the paranoia that gripped Southern California in the wake of Pearl Harbor, this movie will likely seem confusing and silly. To the history buff with a twisted sense of humor (like me, proud member of the 1% of the 1%), the movie is not only amusing, but sometimes surprisingly accurate, historically. Robert Stack plays General Joseph Stillwell - a very real historical figure in L.A. history. Stack even bears a striking resemblance to the real General Stillwell. The whole movie is based upon a few real-life incidents of panicky anti-aircraft fire that occurred over L.A. in 1941/1942, as well as a Japanese sub that actually shelled an oil refinery near Santa Barbara. Like "Chinatown" (a film mistakenly thought to be an accurate account of L.A. water politics in the 1930s), "1941" borrows from real-life history and distorts it into pure fabrication. The difference is that while "Chinatown" is a noir drama, "1941" is an over-the-top comedy. Both films appeal to the historian, but as it is often said, comedy is much harder to pull off than drama. You either love "1941", or sit though it, saying, "huh?".


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