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1941 (1979)

Trailer
1:47 | Trailer
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
4,484 ( 45)
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 Cohen Jordan Cohen ... Macey Douglas (as Jordan Brian)
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

Gross USA:

$31,755,742

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$92,455,742
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

John Landis: Played the dirt-covered soldier Sergeant Mizerany, whose motorcycle is stolen in front of the Hollywood Strand cinema by Captain "Wild" Bill Kelso (John Belushi). See more »

Goofs

When Kelso crashes the plane, he knocks over the traffic signal pole. After he gets out of the plane, the pole is intact and upright again. 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

During the closing credits shooting explosions are seen. See more »

Alternate Versions

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.
See more »


Soundtracks

When I See an Elephant Fly
(uncredited)
Music by Oliver Wallace
Lyrics by Ned Washington
Performed by Cliff Edwards, Jim Carmichael and the Hall Johnson Choir
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

A comic war epic snatched from real headlines!
23 February 1999 | by Cardinal-3See all my reviews

As outlandish and hysterical as the war insanity of 1941 may seem, the plot tracks almost exactly a real incident reported the night of Feb. 24, 1942, in Los Angeles that began when Navy intelligence reported an attack by unidentified objects on their radar could be expected within the next 10 hours. Early the morning of the 25, radar tracked objects 120 miles west of Los Angeles and a blackout was ordered, triggering a flood of reports about enemy planes. Planes wre reported by the coast artillery near Long Beach (25 of them at 12,000 feet). Four batteries of anti aircraft guns at Santa Monica opened fire on a balloon with a flare and all hell broke loose, with so much ack-ack and searchlights scanning the sky that utter confusion reigned for at least three hours with reports of swarms of planes (hundreds in some cases) flying in at every altitude imaginable. Some 1,440 rounds of ammunition were fired at airplanes that never dropped a single bomb. There were reports four enemy planes had been shot down, including one that supposedly landed in flames at a Hollywood intersection. If this all sounds familiar, read on. At dawn, the only damage found was caused by stray ack-ack fire and traffic wrecks during the blackout. The Navy said the next day there were no enemy planes. The Army interviewed people and decided there were at least one to five planes over LA. The War Department then announced the planes must have come from secret air fields in California or Mexico or from Japanese submarines. The next day the Los Angeles Times criticized the "considerable public excitement and confusion" caused by the alert that scared 2 million people. One California politician wanted to know if it was a calculated prank to move California's defense industries inland to other states. The Washington Post followed on Feb. 27 with condemnation of the military's stubborn silence on the issue and the New York Times jumped in on Feb. 28 by calling the entire episode "incredible" and a display of "expensive incompetence." The movie is a wonderful glimpse of this real hysteria, a real incident and with quotes pulled right out of newspaper articles. When Robert Stack wants to know "where are the bombs?" that is the same question the Air Force and Navy asked when reports came in about the thousands of planes attacking LA. All this information is available from government files on Air Force history from the Government Printing Office in Washington, D.C. The Japanese, by the way never flew planes over LA, but did fly over Seattle, they said after the war. I LOVE 1941. It got everything absolutely right. Right down to Belushi's plane crashing into the street and crazies going off searching for hidden airfields near Bakersfield or Barstow or where ever. This was NOT a comedy. It was just about comical people. It should have won an Oscar for BEST DOCUMENTARY.


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