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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The names of David L. Lander' and Michael McKean's characters, Willie and Joe, are a nod to cartoonist and WWII veteran Bill Mauldin's creations for the Army newspaper, "Stars and Stripes". Mauldin's Willie and Joe represented average American GIs, their viewpoints, and their daily lives outside of combat. See more »
After Sgt. Tree was hit in the head by the Santa Claus statue and tells Wally to knock out the lights, his crew agrees to listen to Wally because he's "wearing stripes," even though they know he's not in the military. In reality, there would be a second in command they would have to listen to. See more »
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.
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.
Major General Joseph W. Stilwell, ...
[...] See more »
End credits feature scenes showing cast members screaming. See more »
This film was made for 1% of the population. Happily, I'm in that 1%.
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?".
51 of 72 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?