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You can't have lofty aspirations all the time.
Even the director of such powerful films as "Jaws", "Close Encounters of the Third Kind", "ET" and "Schindler's List" has to take a break from all the serious issues in his films and play dumb at least once.
Just look at "1941".
With a plotline straight out of The Three Stooges and special effects befitting a WWII epic, "1941" abandons all pretense by parodying the opening of "Jaws" right off the bat and hitting every slapstick point from there on in. Spielberg knew that even if this turned out be a flop, it would be a good-natured one.
Just look at this cast! Not only are Aykroyd and Belushi at the helm, but there's talent like Matheson, Allen, Oates, Williams, Beatty, Gary (Roy Scheider's wife from the "Jaws" films), Candy, Flaherty, Stack (in his first comedic turn before "Airplane!"), Lee, Pickens, Deezen (a comic genius if ever there was one), Sperber and a whole herd of other I probably missed. All of them in the midst of the hugest battlefield of comic carnage ever seen.
And no wonder. "1941" was co-written by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, Spielberg protogees who went on to further success with the "Back to the Future" films, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", "Used Cars", (all with climaxes as wild as the entire running time of "1941") and the vastly under-appreciated "Death Becomes Her". Even John Milius (director/co-writer of "Conan the Barbarian") lends his pen hand.
In the end, you'll be dazzled, breathless, stunned and amazed, but by no means bored. And, with any luck, amused.
"1941" - it was a very good year.
Nine stars. And don't worry: it's all for the good of the war effort.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
1941 is considered to be Steven Spileberg's folly, a screwball farce
about the Japanese invading America after pearl harbour, starring some
of the greatest actors and comedians that ever lived. Some people hate
it, I love it. Sorry for all you haters, but I guess the things I like
are the things you dislike, but for the life of me, I can't understand
why this movie is considered Spielberg's worst movie. For one, it's
watchable, and for another, it's not full of Spielberg Schmaltz, (the
thing i hate most about Senior Speilbergo's later movies, i.e Hook,
Treat Williams is an a$$hole but no-one plays a$$holes better (see; things to do in Denver when your dead), Robert Stack crying while watching Dumbo when a full scale dogfight rages outside the theatre, Ned Beatty destroying his house in an attempt to fight the Japanese, Slim Pickens faking doing a sh!t while Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee wait to find out if he's passed a compass. I'm sorry but but those are all comedic gems. Okay, so Belushi is wasted and is seemingly in this move for no reason, but Belushi in a cockpit without a bottle opener is funnier than anything with Sean William Scott in it. For me this movie hits all the right notes, and on reflection makes some very good points (the two numbskull's who mistakenly think Belushi's plane is a German fighter...the paranoia of anyone living in a coastal town after pearl harbour).
Give it another chance, then watch Jaws if you still don't like it.
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
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
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?".
Those who can't find humor in "1941" need to loosen up. This is one of the few movies I have ever purchased for my own personal collection. The Ferris wheel scene alone is an all-time classic. This is the type of picture that is fun to watch after a hard day at work. Open up a beer and enjoy.
1941 is a unique movie. 1 part of it is animal house-esque lowbrow
humor, 1 part is B-movie love story, and 1 part stoic war movie, and 2
parts insane hilarity.
It is a weird mix to say the least.
First, the problems: 1. The first half of the movie is slow. It grinds on making you wonder why you're watching this movie.
2. The "Love story" subplot is poorly executed for what this movie is trying to do.
3. many of the actors are not used to their fullest potential (especially Dan Akroyd and John Candy) while others receive excessive screen time. (see: The slow moving love story sub-plot) But then there are the good aspects: 1. John Belushi is hilarious. He would have been funnier had he interacted with more characters rather than appearing in many solo shots, but he was funny.
2. The "Epic Battle" was great. It had me laughing as my sides hurt.
3. Slim Pickens: His appearance in the movie was truly where the movie stopped being slow, and the fun really started. He was great in his scenes and between the dialogue and his visual scenes, you can't help but laugh.
There's more, but in short, if you don't mind sitting through a slow build up, the payoff is worth the wait.
It's not the best movie ever, but in the barren entertainment landscape that is Weekend Television: Finding this movie can be like an oasis in the desert. It's solid Saturday afternoon fun.
I'll keep this short; read msa0510's review for a more in-depth review. The
best part in this movie is Slim Pickens. Just thinking about his scenes
makes me start laughing again.
It was nice having the "Making of 1941" on the dvd and seeing the remarks by Spielberg; I knew this movie had been panned by the critics but I hadn't known that it was popular in Europe. I can't understand why we Americans don't find it funny; it's hysterically funny to me.
It's a perfect 10 in my book; so few comedies these days are so over-the-top funny as this movie is.
First, look at this cast, please. Toshiro Mifune, Warren Oates, Robert Stack, Christopher Lee and my favorite old actor the immortal Slim Pickens. Even with probably one of the best group of actors since MAD MAD WORLD which by the way is the movie this film aspires to be; it is an unmitigated disaster. First big problem, the action scenes in LA with the phony air raid are forever, drawn out seem like days. It did not help the effects were awful even for 1979. It is the worst rendition of the city which looks like they spent ten dollars on the models of the city. John Belushi does real damage to the picture; Steven evidently loved ANIMAL HOUSE, I did not, the man was always an overrated, obnoxious slob. Here he wrecks scene after scene as the camera zooms in on him for his supposed non verbal abilities. BORING, BORING.
How about the dance scene from the USO that seems to last for days. Did the poster say see a jitterbug contest until you cry for mercy? The scene is so drawn out and boring and brings the pace of the film to a screeching halt. It also suffers from the deadly: too many characters problem. Look, I love MAD MAD WORLD it is light-years above this piece of crap but even it suffered from just too many characters all going a hundred different directions. It becomes impossible to follow and ends up generating boredom. Count the stories that Steven has going all at once here. This is not to say that there aren't a few drop dead hilarious scenes in this movie.
My favorite is all the scenes with Slim Pickens. Do not think he is a great comedic actor? Watch Dr. Strangelove and imagine someone else as Major Kong. His scenes with Mifune and the Japanese are the highlight of the movie. Everyone was laughing in my cinema at these in 1979. The man was one of the best comedic actors that ever lived bringing the only levity to the dreadful RANCHO DELUXE. It is worth suffering through the picture to see these but do not buy the movie; no way. The only other scenes are with Ned Beatty showing us why you do not give civilians artillery at their houses. It is very short but very, very funny. Eddie Deezen is great on the ferris wheel, you will feel empathy for poor Murray Hamilton, the evil mayor from JAWS.
These simply add up to not more than twenty minutes in an over two hour movie. The rest of the film is just awful. The eternal dance contest, the terrible air raid from Hell that lasts for years, featuring the worst special effects you have ever seen. The unfunny and weird story of Nancy Allan and her plane fixation that somebody thought was amusing. What an unmitigated disaster. I am forced to remind everyone that Steven's films are not aging well; his group of overrated films are currently sinking like stones. Only JAWS and SCHINDLER'S LIST will survive him, the rest will fade forever. They were always congruent with the zeitgeist of the 1980s; I will not bore my readers with a philosophical analysis of their fitting perfectly with the Reagan Era of narcissistic yuppies. You can deduce the rest by yourself. This was not an anomaly I am sorry; it was so viewed in the 1980s when Steven was being worshiped. It is quite typical Spielberg; .full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First off I have to mention all of the wonderful actors that did such a
great job; Lucille Benson (reprising a role from DUEL), Slim Pickens,
Susan Backlinie (reprising her role from JAWS), Ned Beatty, Dan
Aykroyd, John Belushi, Murray Hamilton, Robert Stack, Christopher Lee,
John Candy, Toshiro Mifone, Warren Oates, Elisha Cook, Jr, Eddie
Deezen, Dub Taylor, Joe Flaherty, Don Calfa, Dick Miller and small
roles and cameos for people like James Caan, Samuel Fuller, John
Landis, Mickey Rourke (in his film debut), Michael McKean and David
Lander together but not as Lenny and Squiggy, also from Laverne &
Shirley we have Penny Marshall, and of course in my opinion the movies
true star was Bobby Dicicco.
Actors I didn't like but I will include are Tim Matheson and Nancy Allen as well as Treat Williams. I normally like Treat but he was awful in this film.
This movie is basically a lighthearted spoof of events that actually did happen at various times during the early 40's. The Japanese did try to invade LA, and airplanes were shot at thinking it was a Japanese raid. Zoot suiters did battle it out with USO boys and many events here are all true just put together for this movie.
As far as the plot to the movie, its basically about the Japanese along with a Nazi comrade trying to invade Los Angelas. The great General Stillwell is in town and trying to watch a movie, his soldiers are at a USO party. One soldier is trying to get a girl, but another kid named Wally wants her more. Another soldier is flying a plane trying to get a woman to sleep with him because she loves planes. There is a lot of weird things going on in here that should make it interesting, but it doesn't. Just random events that all connect to the threat of an invasion.
Spielberg directed this movie and its considered his biggest flop, with good reasoning. It offers nothing, its a mess, its very sloppy. I only laughed once and that was at the Slim Pickens part and director Brian DePalma actually contributed that section. Pickens also spoofs his own self from DR. STRANGELOVE. The movie opens with a spoof of JAWS with the original woman playing her part.
awe what to say...the movie was a mess, I hated the score by John Williams, the direction offered nothing, actors were many, but characters were few, the screenplay was silly and the scenes were flawed...
I wouldn't recommend it to a single person...it was really bad 1/10 stars
I vividly recall the (packed) audience's reaction at the end of 1941: eerie stunned silence... then some guy yelled "what the hell WAS that?" and laughter erupted. I'm a huge Spielberg fan, but 1941 is just wretched excess. It's loud, destructive, unfunny and plot less (it's strictly situational). It's also a bit painful to watch all the now deceased wasted talent (Murray Hamilton, Lionel Stander, Wendy Jo Sperber, Belushi, The great Slim Pickens, Toshiro Mifune, Samuel Fuller, Bob Stack & others...). The film's uncredited cameos are strange (Penny Marshall? James Caan? Lenny & Squiggy from Penny's series??? C'mon...) This was a monumental waste of time, talent & piles of money. (1) unfunny star/10.
Any movie that features the following....:
1. The Geek from "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" torturing The Mayor from "Jaws" 2. A bunch of Japanese soldiers disguised as walking Christmas Trees 3. A hilarious USO dance sequence that boils over into an inter-service street fight 4. the film debut of Mickey Rourke and the big film debut of John Candy
and last but not least
5. Tough guy Robert Stack crying and singing along to songs from the Disney classic "Dumbo".....
CANNOT BE ALL BAD!!!!!
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