1941 (1979)

PG   |    |  Action, Comedy, War

1941 (1979) Poster

Hysterical Californians prepare for a Japanese invasion in the days after Pearl Harbor.

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  • Nancy Allen and Tim Matheson in 1941 (1979)
  • Lorraine Gary in 1941 (1979)
  • Slim Pickens in 1941 (1979)
  • Slim Pickens in 1941 (1979)
  • Steven Spielberg and William A. Fraker in 1941 (1979)
  • John Belushi in 1941 (1979)

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Cast & Crew

Top Billed Cast


Steven Spielberg


Robert Zemeckis (screenplay), Bob Gale (screenplay), Robert Zemeckis (story), Bob Gale (story), John Milius (story)

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews

2 December 1999 | VWAdam
A Great Comedy Spoof
I'll admit, the first time I ever saw this movie, I thought it was kind of dumb, but upon seeing it a couple more times, I had a relevation.

This movie is a wild ride of hysterics concerning a small town on the coast of California. Spielberg pokes a lot of fun at the military throughout this film. It's definitely a movie you have to watch several times and always watch it with a clear mind, don't expect it to be dumb or to be a serious commentary on war, it is neither. It's another of those really good movies that was a box office flop and was panned by the critics. Seems the best films always receive this treatment.

Metacritic Reviews

Critic Reviews

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Did You Know?


The gas station that Wild Bill Kelso accidentally blows up early in this movie is the same one seen in Duel (1971), with Lucille Benson appearing as the proprietor in both movies.


Title Card: On December 7, 1941, the Naval Air Arm of the Imperial Japanese Fleet, in a surprise attack, struck the United States Naval Base at Pearl Harbor and hurtled an unsuspecting America into World War II.
Title Card: American citizens were stunned, shocked and ...
Title Card: ...


During the general's speech at the airport, a number of WW2-era planes serve as a backdrop. Some new airliners and what seems to be a B-52 are visible in the background.

Crazy Credits

During the closing credits shooting explosions are seen.

Alternate Versions

The version released on network television and VHS/DVD/laserdisc is Spielberg's original director's cut, running 146 minutes, fleshing out sub-plots and characterizations, including:

  • Wally and Dennis getting thrown out onto the street by Mr. Malcomb after he fires them from the diner where they work.
  • Miss Fitzroy lecturing a group of women, Betty and Maxine among them, about tonight's USO dance which is interupted by a group of Army service men and Sailors entering and chanting wanting the women.
  • A department store scene with Wally fussing about buying an expensive new zoot suit and Dennis sounding a phoney air-raid siren which leads to panic in the store including a gun-toting Santa Claus yelling out command orders which is revealed to be a set up by Wally who walks out of the store wearing the zoot suit while Dennis meets the twin girls for the first time.
  • A scene with Scioli outside his house arguing with his non-English speaking wife about converting their car into an armored car while talking with Claude about sending him and someone else atop the Santa Monica ferris wheel on a spot mission for Japanese planes.
  • A extra scene with Ito and the I-19 Japanese submarine shore party disguising themselves as Christmas trees in a remote Christmas tree lot and the drunken Hollis Wood trying to "chop" them down which leads to his capture.
  • Scioli arriving at the ferris wheel with Claude and Herbie and explaing to them about their mission in the ferris wheel.
  • A dinner scene at the Douglas home and Ward explaining to Betty about her going to the USO dance and telling her about the pros and cons about meeting servicemen.
  • A barracks scene with Odgen Johnson Jones arriving for the first time at the barracks and imediately quarling with the racist Foley about property lines within their quarters.
  • A scene outside the USO club where Wally arrives and meets with Martinez and his Zoot Suit friends where they are denied access to the club where Corporal Stretch shows up and sets Wally's zoot suit afire which nearly leads to a riot between the Zoot Suiters and the Servicemen. Wally then meets Dennis dressed up as a Marine in order to gain entrance into the club with the twins as his dates.
  • Additional dialoge between Captain Birkhead and Donna in their car on the way to the airstrip and being afraid of the dark.
  • Another barracks scene where Sergeant Tree breaks up a fistfight between Jones and Foley by informing them about the riot on Hollywood Blvd. and showing them climing into their tank and starting it up.
  • A scene of the Japanese submarine I-19 arriving for the first time outside the Douglas house and the sub's entire crew on the deck watching Joan Douglas taking a bath through the bathroom window.
  • A scene of the tank traveling down a residential street and Wally shooting up Officer Miller's police car to pieces, sending the policeman and some paserby's running for their lives.


Down by the Ohio
Music by
Abe Olman (uncredited)
Lyrics by Jack Yellen (uncredited)
Performed by The Andrews Sisters
Courtesy of MCA Records, Inc.


Plot Summary

Synopsis (WARNING: Spoilers)


Action | Comedy | War

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