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

Director:

Steven Spielberg

Writers:

Robert Zemeckis (screenplay), Bob Gale (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Dan Aykroyd ... Sgt. Frank Tree
Ned Beatty ... Ward Douglas
John Belushi ... Capt. Wild Bill Kelso
Lorraine Gary ... Joan Douglas
Murray Hamilton ... Claude Crumn
Christopher Lee ... Capt. Wolfgang von Kleinschmidt
Tim Matheson ... Capt. Loomis Birkhead
Toshirô Mifune ... Cmdr. Akiro Mitamura (as Toshiro Mifune)
Warren Oates ... Col. 'Madman' Maddox
Robert Stack ... Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell
Treat Williams ... Cpl. Chuck 'Stretch' Sitarski
Nancy Allen ... Donna Stratton
Lucille Benson ... Gas Mama (Eloise) (as Lucille Bensen)
Jordan Brian Jordan Brian ... Macey Douglas
John Candy ... Pvt. Foley
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Japanese | German | Spanish

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Japs Attacked See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,701,898, 16 December 1979, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$31,755,742

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$92,455,742, 31 December 2004
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (director's cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)| Stereo (Todd-AO)

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Jack Nicholson, Stanley Kubrick allegedly told Steven Spielberg that the film was "great, but not funny." See more »

Goofs

When the tank goes through the paint factory, it gets completely covered in bright paints of different colors, yet seconds later, as it heads toward a paint thinner factory (from which it will then emerge cleaned off), it's already clean of paint before it goes into the paint thinner factory. 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

Referenced in Sunny Side Up (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Swing, Swing, Swing
(uncredited)
Music by Johnny Mandel
Musician: clarinet solo Abe Most
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The exact moment when the doodoo hit the fan.
30 July 2003 | by benoit-3See all my reviews

There is a scene in `1941' where a German general and a Japanese submarine commander (all over-simplified and therefore hateful racial stereotypes) have kidnapped a hapless country hick (Slim Pickens) and are coaxing him to defecate because he has swallowed a toy compass from a box of Cracker Jacks, that is apparently the only way for their stranded submarine to find its way out of Los Angeles harbour.

This scene is not only important because of the way it heralds countless instances of toilet and body fluid humour in Hollywood movies for decades to come. It also acts as a metaphor for the film itself: a bunch of grown men who should know better, hopelessly looking for a sense of direction amid what is basically human excrement.

`1941' is one major stinker. What can you say about the intelligence of a script based on events that happened in 1942, that calls itself `1941'? About scriptwriters who apparently hadn't even graduated to potty-training when they wrote this piece of drivel, are responsible in a large degree for the general dumbing-down of America and who went on to write even more infantile opuses like `Forrest Gump'? About a storyline that depends on the public's acceptance of attempted date rape as an amusing premise? About cameos by self-destructive over-the-top substance-abusing actors just this close to an overdose as a medium of entertainment?

In my book, `1941' is an important historical milestone in American consciousness. Shot in 1979, it marks the exact moment in time where American movies graduated from simple self-indulgence (i.e. `The Godfather' and countless other films in its wake, glorifying guns, cars, gore, sadistic violence, dismemberment, disloyalty and organized crime as a favourite form of family entertainment) to grossly excessive special-effects-driven children's fare (`Star Wars' and its ilk).

It is probably besides the point to add that this film is extremely strained and unfunny and that even its musical score (by John Williams) sounds like Sir Edward Elgar conducting a symphony orchestra during a controlled flatulence contest.

I truly resent one commentator's comparison of this film to `It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World' which had a sharp, clear morality, which is that greed is not only bad, it is ridiculous. What is the moral of `1941'? Anyone? War is funny? Thank you. I rest my case!

To be perfectly fair, writer Zemeckis did eventually obtain redemption for his youthful indiscretions by directing such fine films as `Contact' (an ode to human reason, dedicated to the memory of Carl Sagan) and `What Lies Beneath', which is just plain good.


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