1941

1941

4.8 6
Director: Steven Spielberg

Cast: Dan Aykroyd, Ned Beatty, John Belushi

     
 

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After the back-to-back smashes of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg tried his hand at comedy with this loud, chaotic wartime comedy. The end result has long been dismissed as the blackest mark on the director's record. This DVD edition from Universal will allow people to judge for themselves. The film, a restored director'sSee more details below

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Overview

After the back-to-back smashes of Jaws and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Steven Spielberg tried his hand at comedy with this loud, chaotic wartime comedy. The end result has long been dismissed as the blackest mark on the director's record. This DVD edition from Universal will allow people to judge for themselves. The film, a restored director's cut clocking in at two hours and 26 minutes, looks great, presented in a widescreen format with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio. Spielberg expertly captured the tone and look of 1940s California, and this DVD lets viewers luxuriate in it; however, they can't relax for long, as the sound has been remixed to a ground-shaking Dolby Digital 5.1. Every crashing plane, roaring anti-aircraft gun, and collapsing house sounds as if it's happening next door. Where the disc really takes off is with the extras. First up is an encyclopedic documentary that runs 100 minutes and gives every detail of the film's making. There are loads of anecdotes (including John Wayne's and Charlton Heston's refusal to act in the film, seeing it as unpatriotic), Spielberg's own home movies, and some reflections on the end result by the film's creators, many of whom (such as Robert Zemeckis ) went on to great success. Also included is a collection of promotional artwork and selected reviews from critics (few of which are favorable). Additionally, there are deleted scenes, trailers, production photographs, and production notes. One feature that deserves mentioning, only for how odd it is, is titled "Comic Relief" -- a collection of production stills with (supposedly) humorous voice balloons drawn over them. It's certainly one feature they could have left out. Overall, fans of 1941 and Spielberg completists will want to have this in their libraries.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Bruce Eder
One can look at 1941 today and justifiably wonder, "What was Steven Spielberg thinking?" Or was he really thinking clearly at all? Long before the events of September 11, 2001 made sneak attacks on the United States a serious matter for modern audiences, 1941 seemed a grotesque misfire of a comedy; most of the material that's supposed to be funny seems silly, and most of the actors seem to be straining to be funny, and going so far over the top as to be ridiculous. Not that there aren't some good moments and scenes, as well as portrayals that, in a more careful and subtle production, would have worked -- Ned Beatty and Lorraine Gary are funny, John Belushi, Slim Pickens, and John Candy have their moments, and Wendie Jo Sperber steals every scene in which she appears. Even Dan Aykroyd (doing what amounts to a dry run for his portrayal of Joe Friday in Dragnet) and Robert Stack do well in straight, nicely understated performances. But the rest -- and there's a lot of "the rest" in a cast of over 50 and a running time of 146 minutes -- is so over-the-top, between the multi-layered stunt work, the bathroom humor, and the compound (and ultimately repetitive) slapstick comedy, and so off-balance and off-putting as to render the movie never more than moderately amusing. All of that makes this picture a chore to enjoy, albeit an interesting one. What makes 1941 so odd is that Spielberg and company did succeed in creating several more subtle layers of humor, though these mostly take the form of in-jokes that only movie professionals, critics, and pop-culture fanatics could appreciate: Dan Aykroyd's first scene is a brilliant parody of Cliff Robertson's opening scene from Midway (another Universal production), and the opening credits and the time and date references covering the scene changes also parody the style of Universal's large-scale disaster movies, most notably The Hindenburg and Earthquake. Even John Williams got into the act with his score, which is a good parody of his own epic style and displays one element of extraordinary subtlety (for Williams) -- the music associated with John Belushi's crazy pilot utilizes a chord structure heard in the patriotic song "Reuben James," in a way that would be reverential in any other context but here comes off as totally loopy. The movie was released at 118 minutes; however, in keeping with Universal's approach to network showings of its major films, 28 minutes of material was restored for the network presentation of 1941, and was fully reintegrated, in full Panavision aspect ratio, for the mid-'90s laserdisc and the subsequent DVD edition.

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Product Details

Release Date:
03/23/1999
UPC:
0025192055027
Original Release:
1979
Rating:
PG
Source:
Universal Studios
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Sound:
[Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround]
Time:
2:26:00
Sales rank:
686

Special Features

Restored footage not included in the original theatrical release; Original documentary "The Making of 1941," including interviews with Steven Spielberg, Bob Gale, John Milius, Robert Zemeckis, and others involved in the film; Steven Spielberg's home movies and behind-the-scenes footage; Theatrical trailers; Outtakes from the film; Storyboards and production photographs; Original advertising, marketing, and publicity materials

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Dan Aykroyd Sgt. Tree
Ned Beatty Ward Douglas
John Belushi Wild Bill Kelso
Lorraine Gary Joan Douglas
Murray Hamilton Claude
Toshiro Mifune Cmdr. Mitamura
Christopher Lee Von Kleinschmidt
Nancy Allen Donna
Robert Stack Gen. Stilwell
Tim Matheson Birkhead
Warren Oates Maddox
Treat Williams Sitarski
Eddie Deezen Herbie
Bobby Di Cicco Wally
Diane Kay Betty
John Candy Foley
Frank McRae Ogden Johnson Jones
Perry Lang Dennis
Slim Pickens Hollis Wood
Wendie Jo Sperber Maxine
Lionel Stander Scioli
Iggie Wolfington Meyer Mishkin
Joe Flaherty USO M.C.
Richard Miller Officer Miller
Carol Ann Williams USO Girl
Jenny Williams USO Girl
Lucille Benson Gas Mama
Jordan Brian Macey
Elisha Cook Customer
Patti LuPone Lydia Hedberg
J. Patrick McNamara DuBois
Dub Taylor Malcomb
David L. Lander Joe
Michael McKean Willy
Susan Backlinie Polar Bear Woman
E. Hampton Beagle Phone Man
Deborah Benson USO Girl
Don Calfa Telephone Operator
Vito Carenzo Shore Patrol
Mark Carlton Stilwell Aide
Gary Cervantes Zoot-Suiter
Paul Cloud Stilwell Aide
Luis Contreras Zoot Suiter
Lucinda Dooling Lucinda
Gray Fredrickson Lt. Bressler
Brian Frishman USO Goon
Samuel Fuller Interceptor Commander
Denise Gallup Twin
Brad Gorman USO Nerd
Jerry Hardin Map Man
Audrey Landers USO Girl
John Landis Mizerany
Akio Mitamura Ashimoto
Walter Olkewicz Hinshaw
Mickey Rourke Reese
Whitney Rydbeck Daffy
Donovan Scott Kid Sailor
Kerry Sherman USO Girl
Geno Silva Martinez
Rita Taggart Reporter
Maureen Teefy USO Girl
Andy Tennant Babyface
Jack Thibeau Stilwell Aide
Galen Thompson Stilwell Aide
John Voldstad USO Nerd
Carol Ann Beery USO Girl
Penny Marshall Miss Fitzroy
Dave Cameron Reporter
John R. McKee Reporter
Hiroshi Shimizu Ito

Technical Credits
Steven Spielberg Director
John P. Austin Set Decoration/Design
Paul de Rolf Choreography
Sally Dennison Casting
Bud Ekins Stunts
Buzz Feitshans Producer
A.D. Flowers Special Effects
William A. Fraker Cinematographer
Bob Gale Screenwriter
Robert Glass Sound/Sound Designer
Michael Kahn Associate Producer,Editor
Terry J. Leonard Stunts
John Milius Executive Producer
Dean Edward Mitzner Production Designer
Deborah Nadoolman Costumes/Costume Designer
WIlliam F. O'Brien Art Director
Abe Olman Songwriter
Steve Perry Asst. Director
Mario Roberts Stunts
Bob Troup Songwriter
Judy Van Wormer Choreography
Bob Westmoreland Makeup
John Williams [composer] Score Composer
Jack Yellen Songwriter
Robert Zemeckis Screenwriter
Jerry Ziesmer Asst. Director

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Scene Index

Side #1
0. Chapter List
1. Main titles: to defend their homeland.... [1:23]
2. The Northern California Coast. [2:21]
3. Something honorable to destroy. [2:56]
4. The dancing dishwasher. [3:56]
5. Miss Fitzroy's rules. [1:13]
6. The boogie-woogie suit. [2:20]
7. War nerves. [1:44]
8. A state of insanity. [1:44]
9. Planes on the brain. [3:24]
10. No bombs dropped here. [3:46]
11. The Douglas home. [4:21]
12. Guns in the house. [2:12]
13. For the civil defense. [1:06]
14. Sitarski's manners. [3:54]
15. The landing party. [2:15]
16. Hollis "Holly" Wood. [2:18]
17. The ace of the air. [1:32]
18. Prisoner of the Axis. [2:53]
19. The prize in the popper Jacks. [1:53]
20. The acrophobe and the idiot. [3:47]
21. Dishonorable discharges. [3:15]
22. A message from the madman. [2:54]
23. Dinner at the Douglases'. [:54]
24. A father-daughter talk. [:59]
25. Combat-ready. [1:37]
26. The suits and the sailors. [2:12]
27. Hollywood nights. [3:39]
28. A man in uniform. [3:02]
29. The jitterbug contest. [1:37]
30. The big brawl. [2:23]
31. Madman Maddox. [1:41]
32. Back at the brawl. [3:00]
33. The suicide mission. [1:22]
34. When I see an elephant fly.... [2:07]
35. Wild Bill comes to Barstow. [1:31]
36. The "enemy aircraft." [3:21]
37. Like a bunch of Tojo Stooges. [1:15]
38. After the brawl is over. [1:57]
39. Red alert. [2:59]
40. Invasion!. [1:11]
41. Hellcats over Hollywood. [3:22]
42. He's wearin' the stripes. [3:22]
43. This is war!. [1:52]
44. The invasion of Ocean Park. [3:05]
45. Betty besieged. [:35]
46. Kelso's crash landing. [1:56]
47. Get that sub. [2:27]
48. We're sinking a sub tonight!. [1:23]
49. Right in their sights. [3:23]
50. The long way to Ocean Park. [1:38]
51. Ward takes his shot. [1:26]
52. Sitarski's sayonara. [2:09]
53. Ward's last shot. [1:23]
54. Trapped like beavers. [1:21]
55. A long roll off a short pier. [1:58]
56. The tank and the torpedo. [2:01]
57. Take me to Tokyo. [2:23]
58. The morning after. [3:37]
59. Bringing down the house. [1:44]
60. End titles. [2:23]
0. Chapter List

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