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


Steven Spielberg


Robert Zemeckis (screenplay), Bob Gale (screenplay) | 3 more credits »
4,091 ( 496)
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »





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 Cohen Jordan Cohen ... Macey Douglas (as Jordan Brian)
John Candy ... Pvt. Foley


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


Paranoia meets pandemonium. See more »


Action | Comedy | War


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


According to co-writer Bob Gale in the DVD documentary, many of the events in the movie are based on real incidents. The Army really put an anti-aircraft gun in the yard of a homeowner on the Maine coast. The Japanese submarine I-17 shelled a refinery in Ellwood on the California coast on the evening of February 23, 1942. Although the shells missed the refinery by a wide margin, the unexpected attack started an invasion panic that late the next night resulted in an air raid false alarm over Los Angeles. Civil Defense and Army weapons ended up firing into the air for about an hour, thinking they were being attacked by the Japanese. The infamous Zoot Suit Riots, between Hispanic youths and servicemen, took place in June 1943. See more »


When Captain Birkhead and Donna get out of the car, Donna is handcuffed to an MP. Their handcuffs disappear a few minutes later, when the house collapses. 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, ...
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Crazy Credits

At the end of the closing credits: For Charlise Bryant. See more »

Alternate Versions

The UK cinema version was cut by the BBFC to remove a groin kick during the scene where Wally confronts Sitarski and Betty. Later releases were uncut. See more »


Featured in Spielberg (2017) See more »


In the Mood
Written by Wingy Manone, Andy Razaf and Joe Garland
Performed by Glenn Miller and His Orchestra
See more »

User Reviews

Full of FUN!
9 May 1999 | by psychoniSee all my reviews

Why is it, in our society, that a movie's success is rated on monetary value?As with "Always", another Spielberg flop, I love "1941".It's a shame when a movie's success can be judged on box office revenue only.It's a great deal of fun, and it's what movies should be about, a chance to laugh,to smile, and if done correctly, a chance to leave our lives for a couple of hours."1941" may not be at the top of all time movie favorites, they're saving that space for the BIG money makers,But it belongs at top of true movie lovers lists everywhere!And to Stash,It's seems that "Close Encounters of a Third Kind"was another Spielberg Film, before "1941", that some might consider as BIG!

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Frequently Asked Questions

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English | Japanese | German | Spanish

Release Date:

14 December 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Night the Japs Attacked See more »


Box Office


$35,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,701,898, 16 December 1979

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


| (director's cut) | (TV)

Sound Mix:

4-Track Stereo (35 mm prints)| 70 mm 6-Track (70 mm prints)



Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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