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).
It's been six days since the attack on Pearl Harbor. Panic grips California, supposedly the next target of the Japanese forces. Everywhere in California, people are suffering from war nerves. Chaos erupts all over the state. An Army Air Corps Captain, a civilian with a deranged sense of Nationalism, civilian defenders, and a Motor Pool crew all end up on the trail of a lost Japanese sub that has picked Hollywood as their own target. Will these people be able to defend their homes? Will they be able to preserve the safety in California? Will they be able to get a hold of themselves?
One of the funniest movies of all time. A gigantic screwball comedy that just keeps getting zanier and more outrageous as it goes--just when you think the comic invention is all used up, something else springs out of left field and surprises you. Don't listen to the snobby "academic" critics--Pauline Kael, the greatest (and, for my money, the only) movie critic of all time gave this movie the praise it deserved. If the Marx Brothers had made a comedy about World War II, this would be it. Some of the performers--John Belushi, Treat Williams, and Wendie Jo Sperber, in particular--have never been better, and the USO chase sequence is GENIUS choreography. What's not to like?
In 1979, those of us who were hooked on the original Saturday Night Live were pretty steamed at Belushi and Ackroyd for abandoning the show. Maybe some film critics felt the same way.
I think that the fact that the editors cut so much out of this film, you sat there scratching your head, and saying "how did that happen" was responsible for a lot of the negative reaction to the film. Some scenes were expendable, but others were priceless, and should have been left in. Pick what you liked from this list, if you saw the extended version on home video:
Wally and his buddy terrorizing the department store with an air raid siren so that he can get out without paying for the Zoot Suit and the store's Santa Claus taking charge as an armed air raid warden.
The scene of the Japanese disguised as Christmas trees, and their capture of an intoxicated Slim Pickens. BANZAI!!
Ned Beatty advising his daughter on what to do with the soldiers and sailors at the USO.
Wally's buddy in a Marine uniform that he brought at a uniform shop.
The bad humor involving John Candy and the newly arrived black member of the Motor Pool. It's not fair to say Steven Spielberg's 1941 lacks "pacing." It's got it, all right, but all at the same pace: The movie relentlessly throws gags at us until we're dizzy. It's an attempt at that most tricky of genres, the blockbuster comedy, and it tries so hard to dazzle us that we want a break. The Director's Cut of this early Spielberg flick runs approx. 27 minutes longer than the old Theatrical Version and features several blocks of new scenes throughout the time. Nearly 27 scenes were added or altered and sometimes alternate material was used as well. a5c7b9f00b
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