Charlton Heston
Director: Jack Smight Cast: Charlton Heston
Charlton Heston
, Henry Fonda
Henry Fonda
, James Coburn
James Coburn
Jack Smight

DVD (Wide Screen / Dolby 5.1 / Mono)

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Midway has aged somewhat better than anyone could have anticipated when it was released in 1976. Charlton Heston, the movie's nominal star, can say anything he wishes, but the movie seemed to take mostly wrong turns at the time of its release, injecting superficial fictional personal stories (centered on Heston's character) where none were needed, and only the superbly staged battle scenes (enhanced by "Sensurround") made it worth the two hours and change it demanded -- Heston, Henry Fonda, Hal Holbrook, Glenn Ford, Robert Webber, James Coburn, Toshiro Mifune, and others were mostly wasted, uttering predictable dialogue and stock characterizations. Indeed, some of the supporting players, including Kevin Dobson and Erik Estrada, fare better with their few lines than Heston and Fonda do as the stars. The movie still seems like a mess, but, as we've seen from pictures such as Pearl Harbor, not nearly as much of a mess as more recent and ambitious films have made of World War II history. The Universal DVD reissue of Midway supplants the old Goodtimes edition in every respect. Not only does it offer a better transfer of the movie, but a ton of supplementary materials. The producers have tried to give us all of the additional footage that has become familiar from television showings of the movie, but in this regard they've come up short; the scenes involving Charlton Heston and Susan Sullivan, portraying his love interest, are appended to the movie rather than integrated with it, and there is no sign of the footage depicting the battle of the Coral Sea, which figures into the first quarter of the film obliquely and was depicted in the television version of the film. "The Making of Midway," running 36 minutes, begins with the recollections of Charlton Heston about the actual period, and offers producer Walter Mirisch giving a history lesson -- it's the sort of thing that the History Channel does better, with less padding from the movie itself. Director Jack Smight recalled how his successful direction of Airport 1975 led to the assignment to do Midway, whose biggest challenge, apart from stage managing the reenactment of a battle involving thousands of men and dozens of ships, was matching the Navy's archival footage with newly shot material. Astonishingly, the assembly of stock footage, done by editor Frank Urioste, cost 60,000 dollars, extraordinarily high for second unit material, but impressive to the executives at Universal when they saw that they were getting air and sea battles that would have cost millions to film in a studio, assuming that this could be done. The movie started life as a documentary, and it was only midway through pre-production that it became a dramatic blockbuster and required star power, hence the involvement of Heston, Fonda, Mitchum, and others. The only dubious moment is when the makers explain their decision to kill off the Charlton Heston character, taking bows for their "honesty" in killing off a character in which the audience is "invested." The Heston character, however, is so sketchily and superficially depicted, that it's hard to believe that audience members cared one way or the other. "The Score of Midway" includes a good interview with composer John Williams, recalling his career from the first half of the 1970s. This was, in fairness, not one of his better scores, even from the era, inspired only in a handful of places, but Williams, Smight, and Mirisch give a good account of the fine points of the score. The documentary "They Were There" was a 1976 promotional film hosted by Charlton Heston in which he interviewed the real-life aircraft squadron commander Max Leslie and intelligence officer Joseph Rochefort, and the real-life George Gay, whose plane was shot down in the first attack on the Japanese carriers -- he recalls being stranded in the water, surrounded by Japanese carriers that were soon on fire. Unfortunately, the short doesn't last nearly long enough to satisfy one's interest in the actual battle, but it is handy to have, and it's nice that someone thought to shoot it at the time. The DVD opens automatically to the main menu, which, in turn, opens to a simple two-part menu presenting the bonus selections.

Product Details

Release Date: 10/30/2001
UPC: 0025192122026
Original Release: 1976
Rating: PG
Source: Universal Studios
Region Code: 1
Presentation: [Wide Screen]
Sound: [Dolby Digital, monaural]
Time: 2:12:00
Sales rank: 1,858

Special Features

Additional scenes exclusively shot for the network television version; documentary featuring new interviews with producer Walter Mirisch, director Jack Smight, editor Frank J. Urioste and star Charlton Heston; featurettes on composer John Williams and Sensuround sound; production photographs and portraits with score by John Williams; theatrical trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charlton Heston Capt. Matt Garth
Henry Fonda Adm. Chester W. Nimitz
James Coburn Capt. Vinton Maddox
Glenn Ford Rear Adm. Raymond A. Spruance
Hal Holbrook Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort
Toshiro Mifune Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto
Robert Mitchum Adm. William F. Halsey
Robert Wagner Lt. Cmdr. Ernest L. Blake
Christina Kokubo Haruko Sakura
Monte Markham Cmdr. Max Leslie
Kevin Dobson Ensign George Gay
Glenn Corbett Lt. Cmdr. John Waldron
Gregory Walcott Capt. Elliott Buckmaster
Phillip Richard Allen Actor
Dabney Coleman Capt. Murray Arnold
Larry Csonka Cmdr. Delaney
Erik Estrada Actor
John Fujioka Actor
James Ingersoll Actor
Dale Ishimoto Vice Adm. Moshiro Hosogaya
Robert Ito Actor
Steve Kanaly Actor
Lloyd Kino Actor
Clyde Kusatsu Actor
David Macklin Actor
Kip Niven Actor
Bennett Ohta Actor
Dennis Rucker Ens. Mansen
Tom Selleck Actor
Sab Shimono Actor
Conrad Yama Adm. Nobutake Kondo
Michael Richardson Actor
Kurt Grayson Actor
Cliff Robertson Cmdr. Carl Jessop
Robert Webber Rear Adm. Frank J. "Jack" Fletcher
Ed Nelson Adm. Harry Pearson
James Shigeta Vice Adm. Chuichi Nagumo
Biff McGuire Capt. Miles Browning
Christopher George Lt. Cmdr. C. Wade McClusky
Edward Albert Lt. Tom Garth
Yuki Shimoda Actor
Seth Sakai Actor
Alfie Wise Actor
Beeson Carroll Actor
John Bennett Perry Actor
Noriyuki "Pat" Morita Actor

Technical Credits
Jack Smight Director
John M. Dwyer Set Decoration/Design
Richard Hashimoto Asst. Director
Robert Martin Sound/Sound Designer
Jack McMasters Special Effects
Walter Mirisch Producer
Leonard Peterson Sound/Sound Designer
Donald S. Sanford Screenwriter
Harry Stradling Cinematographer
Robert Swink Editor
Walter Tyler Art Director
Frank J. Urioste Editor
John Williams [composer] Score Composer

Scene Index

Side #1 -- Widescreen
0. Scenes
1. Main Titles [5:21]
2. Something's Stirring [4:02]
3. Tom's Surprise [7:00]
4. Hot Information [9:56]
5. An Enemy Ruse? [5:23]
6. Haruko [5:47]
7. Nimitz's Team [4:19]
8. Kissing the Enemy [11:57]
9. The Air Search [13:10]
10. The First Wave [6:35]
11. Attack on Midway Island [16:58]
12. The Americans Attack [11:29]
13. Air Strike [3:12]
14. Bandits [7:17]
15. The Japanese Strike Back [6:07]
16. Victory [5:48]
17. Crash Landing [2:03]
18. End Titles [2:41]

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