December 13th, 2013: 1941

Cast and Crew:  Bob Gale, Robert Zemeckis (Screenplay and Story); John Milius (Co-Writer, Producer); John Williams (Score);Dub Taylor, Elisha Cook Jr., Joe Flaherty, John Belushi, John Landis, , Lionel Stander, Lorraine Gray, Nancy Allen, Robert Stack, , Slim Pickens, Tim Matheson, Toshiro Mifune, Treat Williams, Warren Oates, Wendie Jo Sperber, John Candy, David L. Lander, Michael McKean, Dick Miller, Mickey Rourke

What It’s About:  A Japanese crew manning a German sub with a German naval attaché (Christopher Lee) are cruising Southern California attempting to bomb Hollywood.  At the same time, various Angelenos get caught up in the hysteria of the time, try to get laid, try to win contracts with RKO, and so on.  Eventually all the characters meet during a riot, air battle and a duel between the sub, a homeowner with a 40mm AA gun (Ned Beatty), two aircraft spotters on a Ferris wheel (Murray Hamilton and Eddie Deezen), and a Grant tank (crewed by Dan Aykroyd, John Candy, and Frank McRae).

Why Watch it Today?: The film opens on December 13th, 1941.  Although it’s not  a perfect comedy, 1941 is worth seeing at least once for its cast, the jokes that work, and because nothing like this will ever be made again.  Check our full review if you’re still on the fence.

4 comments on “December 13th, 2013: 1941

  1. geelw says:

    Heh. Saw this when it was released. Day one, first show and I think we may have stuck around for a second. This was by far the LOUDEST movie we’d ever seen and most of the audience wasn’t laughing as hard (or at all in some cases). I was on the fence afterwards because you could see all that money onscreen flying around and blowing up but it felt like the film needed to be longer or shorter and have more scenes with certain characters while dropping or cutting back on others entirely.

    That said, that dance hall sequence is a hoot and John Williams’ music throughout was/is outstanding…

    • T.A. Gerolami says:

      This was one of those movies that would get the “special” showings on TV once in a blue moon because of the length, and the scenes with Ned Beatty demolishing his house were always our favorite…probably because he looks very vaguely like my maternal grandfather in this. The last time I saw it I think my favorite part was the stuff at the amusement park between Deezen and Hamilton, but I think some serious editing and better casting (the young kids are awful) would have helped this film a lot. Of course, I saw the 146 minute director’s cut the last time I saw it-I don’t know if I’ve ever seen the theatrical cut, since I know a lot of the TV showings included some of the cut material, but it can’t be a good sign that it’s somewhat incoherent even with an extra 30 minutes on the running time, but like you say, there is a ton of money on the screen and I don’t think you could ever make anything like this ever again.

      • geelw says:

        Ah, I’d forgotten about that longer cut. I saw that on TV once the first time it aired (wondering why I was watching it, but I couldn’t NOT see what was *new!*) and yeah, it was even MORE confusing.

        I’d say you’d not see this sort of film again as well, but we do get plenty of “ego” projects flying into theaters that end up as expensive flops (with CG instead of practical effects)…

  2. T.A. Gerolami says:

    Oh, absolutely, it’s just not this particular flavor of “ego” project bomb. It’s so very much a product of late 70s BLOCKBUSTER film making, and very much flavored by the people involved. It’s fascinating seeing Spielberg’s most beloved tropes used in such a different context, for example.

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