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Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo

400 customer reviews

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(Jun 05, 2007)
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Editorial Reviews

Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (DVD)

After the devastating Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the string of defeats that followed for the United States, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, devises a plan for a daring raid to strike at the heart of Japan. A squadron of American planes flies across the Pacific Ocean to deliver a deadly payload during Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo. In this true story of courage and ingenuity featuring an all-star cast, American pilots under Doolittle's (Academy Award winner Spencer Tracy) command make the seemingly impossible one-way flight by launching fully loaded bombers for the first time ever from the deck of an aircraft carrier and landing in China. The cost in pilots and aircraft for the Americans may be staggering, but the raid forever shatters the Japanese people's belief that the vast Pacific Ocean protects them from American counterattack.


Special Features

  • Academy Award-nominated Pete Smith Specialty short "Movie Pests"
  • Vintage Passing Parade short "A Lady Fights Back"
  • Classic cartoon "Bear Raid Warden"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Robert Mitchum
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Subtitled, NTSC, Full Screen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 5, 2007
  • Run Time: 138 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (400 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000NTPG6Q
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,821 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

119 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Lawrance Bernabo HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on June 14, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
Now that most people know "Pearl Harbor" is a combination of "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo," this 1944 film directed by Mergyn LeRoy might get some renewed interest. Dalton Trumbo's screenplay is based on the book by Captain Ted. W. Lawson and Robert Considine, and it is Van Johnson as Lawson who is the main character in this film. Spencer Tracy's role as Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle is basically a supporting part, which, or course, Tracy nails. The film is an exciting and essentially faithful retelling of the famous air raid of Japan that was America's first significant payback for the raid on Pearl Harbor. The film not only has a documentary style, including actual footage of the B-25s taking off from the carrier Hornet, it also uses the real name of the raiders, which is a nice tribute to the members of the Doolittle Raid. Covering both the grueling training as well as the actual raid, "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" has the deserved reputation of being one of the most accurate films produced during World War II about the actual war, winning the 1945 Oscar for Best Special Effects. The cast includes Robert Walker, Don DeFore, and a very young Robert Mitchum. If you prefer history to melodrama, then it might be worth your while to do a double-feature of "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" some weekend.
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97 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Linda Linguvic HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on August 28, 2001
Format: VHS Tape
This 1944 film, shot in black and white, is based on a true story. Four months after Pearl Harbor had been bombed, Lieutenant Colonel Jimmy Doolittle devised a plan for a daring raid on the heart of Japan itself. To do this he had to train army bomber pilots to do something no one ever dreamed possible - launch 16 fully loaded bombers from an aircraft carrier. It was a success. And this film is a tribute to those men.
Van Johnson stars as Lieutenant Ted Lawson and he does a great job as the fighter pilot who is sometimes scared, confused and very human. The supporting cast includes Spencer Tracy as Doolittle, and Robert Mitchum, Don Defore, Robert Walker and a dozen other young actors whose names never did become household words. Phyllis Thaxter is cast as Van Johnson's young wife and the romance scenes they have together, complete with background violin music, are the only scenes I found a bit too overdone for modern tastes.
The rest of the film however, was full of action. I can well understand why it won an Academy Award for special effects because it put the audience right there on those little planes along with the men and used newsreel footage to supplement the scenes shot inside the planes. I really learned about the mission and the nature of the training, and felt the authenticity of a film that was actually made in 1944, not just a revisionist historian's interpretation. Here, the slang was real. They got the "dope" on what was going on, found out that everything was "swell" and the women were called "girls". Everyone smoked cigarettes too, a reality the recent politically correct "Pearl Harbor" seemed to ignore.
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By M. Jean Marc Cerutti on April 18, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
April 18, 1942 - April 2002. The Doolittle raid over Japan took place 60 years ago which gives me a reason to write a review of this movie really worth seeing.
Like the book it's faithfully based on, the film is divided in 3 main parts :
1) the training for the raid or how to learn on land to get a heavy B-25 to take off from a carrier knowing you only have one chance to do it : the day of the mission,
2) the bombing raid itself involving 16 planes (if I remember right), and
3) the survival story : how to get back home after crashing in hostile territory : mainland China occupied by Japanese forces (knowing it was impossible to fly back to the carrier and that you couldn't probably have landed on it with a heavy plane like a B-25).
The movie focuses mostly one one crew, the one headed by captain Lawson.
It's interesting in many ways.
First, there's the historical aspect of this first US raid on Japan after Pearl Harbor. One purpose of it was to create a strong psychological impact on the Japanese who used to believe their territory was safe from such an attack (a parallel can be drawn here with what happened in New York on September 11, 2001). Another purpose was to boost the morale of Americans, both that of the civil population and of the military. This dual aim was fully reached.
Other main interesting aspects of the film - and the book - include : the training for the mission, the fact that you see the planes from the inside a great deal of the time, the relationships (between the airmen and their machines, between captain Lawson and his wife, between the pilots and their crews, between the army and the navy and between the Chinese and the Americans), another strong aspect being the struggle to survive.
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60 of 69 people found the following review helpful By J. Collins on September 2, 2004
Format: VHS Tape
"Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo" is based on the book of the same name, authored by Captain Lawson. The book tells the story of the training, execution and aftermath of the "Doolittle Raid" through the perspective of Lawson (and to a lesser degree, his crew). Lawson never meant the book to be more than a personal retelling of what happened. The movie pretty faithfully follows the book, though some wartime schmaltz is tossed in as well.

The strike itself was in fact designed primarily to raise morale of the homefront and US armed forces, who were taking a pounding in the first 6 months of the war in the Pacific. The success of the raid, made Doolittle-already famous as an air racer in the 30's- and the B25 household words.

This is ironic in the B25's case as it was accepted for production in the 1940-41 "50000 a year" aircraft expansion authorized by President Roosevelt. As a medium bomber it really had no doctrinal role in airpower as conceived by the AAC at the time; it was accepted because it was reasonably quick, had excellent range and was easy to fly. No small advantage, when the average age of the pilots who would take this aircraft into combat was 22.... The aircraft proved one of the most versatile of the war, especially after conversion into an attack aircraft with the bombardier comparment replaced with a solid-nose of guns and cannon. Doolittle basically chose the aircraft for the simple reason they were available (the upper echelon refused to release the B17/B24 "Strategic" Bombers for what may be a suicide mission) and had the range. Only after he saw what the AAC was willing to cough up did the idea for carrier transport come about-contrary to myth.
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