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1941 (1979)

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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 »
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Popularity
4,854 ( 146)
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:

As They Roared Into Battle, Only One Thing Was Missing...The Enemy! 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:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Special effects legend A.D. Flowers' last project. See more »

Goofs

As Wild Bill Kelso flies through the air in his plane, he softly sings "Deep in the Heart of Texas", which was not released until 1942. 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 »

Alternate Versions

There is one single difference in music between the 6-channel and 4-channel/mono mixes, according to expanded soundtrack liner notes: the cue "The Sub Commander", about a minute long. The biggest change between the two is that in the standard version, there are four uses of timpani near the end, but in the alternate version used on the 70mm 6-channel release, there is no timpani on the third of the four spots. On home video, the standard appears on the theatrical edition Blu-ray, while the alternate is found on extended edition DVD and Blu-ray as well as the music-only extended track on DVD. See more »

Connections

References Sahara (1943) See more »

Soundtracks

Down by the Ohio
Music by Abe Olman (uncredited)
Lyrics by Jack Yellen (uncredited)
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

This film was made for 1% of the population. Happily, I'm in that 1%.
23 April 2001 | by imddavehSee all my reviews

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 in-joke. 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 way, 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?".


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