1941 (1979)
February 2, 2023 9:49 AM - Subscribe

After Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, residents of California descend into a wild panic, afraid that they might be the next target. Among them are Wild Bill Kelso (John Belushi), a crazed National Guard pilot; Sgt. Frank Tree (Dan Aykroyd), a patriotic, straight-laced tank crew commander; Ward Douglas (Ned Beatty), a civilian willing to help with the American war effort at any cost; and Maj. Gen. Joseph W. Stilwell (Robert Stack), who tries his hardest to maintain sanity amid the chaos.

Also starring Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Christopher Lee, Tim Matheson, Toshirō Mifune, Warren Oates, Treat Williams, Nancy Allen, Lucille Benson, Jordan Brian, John Candy, Elisha Cook Jr., Eddie Deezen, Patti LuPone, Slim Pickens, Wendie Jo Sperber, Michael McKean, Samuel Fuller, John Landis, Mickey Rourke, James Caan, Penny Marshall.

Directed by Steven Spielberg. Screenplay by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale. Story by Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale, John Milius. Score composed by John Williams.

44% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Crackle and Fubo. Also available for digital rental. JustWatch listing.
posted by DirtyOldTown (8 comments total)
This is loud and not very good. Maybe the only Spielberg movie I didn't get anything out of, even if there are others that underwhelmed.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 12:25 PM on February 2 [1 favorite]

I've never seen the movie, but the theme is in my mind a perfect distillation of Sousa-by-way-of-Copeland.
posted by gauche at 1:06 PM on February 2

The name Stilwell jumped out at me - "Hey, I think that was a real person."
I had only recalled him from, I think, a mention in Gregory Boyington's biography, so I thought the inclusion in the movie was anachronistic, but the Wikipedia article says Stilwell "from 1940 to 1941 organized and trained the 7th Infantry Division at Fort Ord, California."
And while I had known his nickname was "Vinegar Joe", I hadn't known the details, or his fondness for a phrase that my mom and I both love:
"Stilwell is often remembered by his sobriquet, "Vinegar Joe," which he acquired as a commander at Fort Benning, Georgia. Stilwell often gave harsh critiques of performance in field exercises, and a subordinate, stung by the caustic remarks, drew a caricature of Stilwell rising out of a vinegar bottle. After discovering the caricature, Stilwell pinned it to a board and had the drawing photographed and distributed to friends.[10] Yet another indication of his view of life was the motto he kept on his desk: Illegitimi non carborundum, a form of fractured Latin that translates as "Don't let the bastards grind you down."[11]"
posted by Mutant Lobsters from Riverhead at 3:14 PM on February 2

This is loud and not very good.

Thank you! That was my take on this movie, too, and used to have long “fights” with a cinephile friend who absolutely loved it. It’s loud, unfunny, and every gag is stupendously over-produced. It’s a headache of a movie.
posted by Thorzdad at 3:47 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]

There's a slight bit of charm amidst the spectacle, but yeah...largely a mess.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 5:16 AM on February 3

It's a prime "Cocaine is a hell of a drug" movie.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 5:49 AM on February 3 [3 favorites]

Yikes. I saw this in the theater with my dad as a child, and it was painfully slow and unfunny then, and I can't imagine it’d be any better now. I mean, the only memorable bit was Slim Pickens struggling on the toilet.

If you enjoy over-the-top wacky comedies of that era, Used Cars is a far better Zemeckis/Gale/Spielberg production.
posted by mubba at 4:00 PM on February 3 [1 favorite]

Is this the one with the Ferris wheel that rolls in to the sea? That I enjoyed
posted by thegirlwiththehat at 2:41 PM on February 4

« Older Movie: Amistad...   |  Movie: A.I. Artificial Intelli... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments