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
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, ...