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



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



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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Paranoia meets pandemonium. See more »


Action | Comedy | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Night the Japs Attacked  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (director's cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

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



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Steven Spielberg shot one million feet of film over 247 shooting days. See more »


When Ned Beatty crashes the cannon into the house, to get a better shot at the Japanese submarine, Bing Crosby can be heard singing, "I'll be Home for Christmas", which was recorded October 4, 1943. See more »


[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 »


Referenced in The Cinema Snob: The Legend of the Lone Ranger (2013) See more »


Over There
Written by George M. Cohan
Performed by Slim Pickens
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Whatever Floats Your Boat
1 May 2000 | by (South Carolina) – See all my reviews

In 1975 Speilberg gave us the spine tingling horror of "Jaws." In 1977 we were visited by the mothership in the awe inspiring "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." In 1981 he made "Raiders of the Lost Ark" a modern day artifact. He then took time to write "Poltergeist." Finally in 1982 he put together one of his greatest and most profitable films to date "E.T. the Extra Terrestrial." So with these credentials what happened right smack dab in the middle in 1979 when he tried to pull together "1941." With this odd ball comedy you either like it or you don't. It's either funny or it's not. Sometimes when there are a number of huge stars you expect too much and then become disappointed when your anticipation is not met.

Another example of this is "The Bonfire of the Vanities" you may feel the story lacks but still appreciate it for the big stars whether they meet your expectations or not. Myself I didn't care for "1941" on the other hand I liked "The Bonfire of the Vanities." The point is for every good review you read about "1941" your bound to find a bad one and the only way you will truly know is to see the film yourself. If you like that "Three Stooges" type comedy then you may appreciate "1941." There is no doubt that this is not Speilberg's finest work, but it does offer some laughs. Now if you are one of those types that must see everything Speilberg has his hands in then you need to add this to your rental list.

The film is a comedy centered around California preparing to defend itself from a possible Japanese attack. In it's wake a silly Japanese submarine crew delivers many of the laughs.

14 of 18 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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