In 1839, the revolt of Mende captives aboard a Spanish owned ship causes a major controversy in the United States when the ship is captured off the coast of Long Island. The courts must decide whether the Mende are slaves or legally free.
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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The tank crew has an African-American member. The US Army wasn't officially desegregated until 1948. Limited desegregation came to combat units in December 1944 and January 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge. 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, ...
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End credits feature scenes showing cast members screaming. See more »
The version released on network television and VHS/DVD/laserdisc is Spielberg's original director's cut, running 146 minutes, fleshing out sub-plots and characterizations, including:
Wally and Dennis getting thrown out onto the street by Mr. Malcomb after he fires them from the diner where they work.
Miss Fitzroy lecturing a group of women, Betty and Maxine among them, about tonight's USO dance which is interupted by a group of Army service men and Sailors entering and chanting wanting the women.
A department store scene with Wally fussing about buying an expensive new zoot suit and Dennis sounding a phoney air-raid siren which leads to panic in the store including a gun-toting Santa Claus yelling out command orders which is revealed to be a set up by Wally who walks out of the store wearing the zoot suit while Dennis meets the twin girls for the first time.
A scene with Scioli outside his house arguing with his non-English speaking wife about converting their car into an armored car while talking with Claude about sending him and someone else atop the Santa Monica ferris wheel on a spot mission for Japanese planes.
A extra scene with Ito and the I-19 Japanese submarine shore party disguising themselves as Christmas trees in a remote Christmas tree lot and the drunken Hollis Wood trying to "chop" them down which leads to his capture.
Scioli arriving at the ferris wheel with Claude and Herbie and explaing to them about their mission in the ferris wheel.
A dinner scene at the Douglas home and Ward explaining to Betty about her going to the USO dance and telling her about the pros and cons about meeting servicemen.
A barracks scene with Odgen Johnson Jones arriving for the first time at the barracks and imediately quarling with the racist Foley about property lines within their quarters.
A scene outside the USO club where Wally arrives and meets with Martinez and his Zoot Suit friends where they are denied access to the club where Corporal Stretch shows up and sets Wally's zoot suit afire which nearly leads to a riot between the Zoot Suiters and the Servicemen. Wally then meets Dennis dressed up as a Marine in order to gain entrance into the club with the twins as his dates.
Additional dialoge between Captain Birkhead and Donna in their car on the way to the airstrip and being afraid of the dark.
Another barracks scene where Sergeant Tree breaks up a fistfight between Jones and Foley by informing them about the riot on Hollywood Blvd. and showing them climing into their tank and starting it up.
A scene of the Japanese submarine I-19 arriving for the first time outside the Douglas house and the sub's entire crew on the deck watching Joan Douglas taking a bath through the bathroom window.
A scene of the tank traveling down a residential street and Wally shooting up Officer Miller's police car to pieces, sending the policeman and some paserby's running for their lives.
This film was made for 1% of the population. Happily, I'm in that 1%.
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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