Tora! Tora! Tora!
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Tora! Tora! Tora!...is the code that advised Japanese Imperial Navy commanders that the devastating December 7, 1941 attack on Hawaii commenced with utter surprise and without resistance. Torpedo bombers, dive bombers and fighter planes swept down upon Pearl Harbor and other military targets, killing over 2,400 and wounding over 1,200. More than a dozen ships were damaged or destroyed. Dozens of aircraft were lost. America, “the sleeping giant,” was abruptly awakened by WWII.
Tora! Tora! Tora! is Twentieth Century Fox’s meticulously researched and painstakingly authentic reenactment of “the date which will live in infamy” and the political and military intrigue that preceded it. This stunning and definitive war docudrama stars Jason Robards, Martin Balsam and E.G. Marshall.
Commentary by Director Richard Fleischer & Japanese Film Historian Stuart Galbraith IV
Day of Infamy Documentary
History vs. Hollywood – TORA! TORA! TORA!: A Giant Awakes
AMC Backstory®: TORA! TORA! TORA!
FOX Movietone News
Original Theatrical Trailer
Collectible Hardcover Book
Top Customer Reviews
This movie was directed by several directors including Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasuka, but the American version (yes, there is a Japanese version) gives the credit to veteran director Richard Fleischer. Based on Gordon W. Prange's "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and Ladislas Farago's "The Broken Seal", the film accurately depicts the events on both sides of the Pacific leading up to the stunning attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet on Sunday, December 7, 1941.
Even though it covers an 18-month period between Admiral Yamamoto's (Soh Yamamura) initial planning for Operation Hawaii and the attack itself, Tora! Tora! Tora! (the title refers to the code used to inform the Japanese that the Americans had been caught by surprise) never drags or seems dull. I learned, for instance, that Japanese Ambassador Nomura was a skilled and honorable diplomat who did not know what his country's military leaders were planning, and that he hoped to avoid war. I was also stunned by how General Walter C. Short (Jason Robards) was so preoccupied by the threat of sabotage from Hawaii's 125,000 Japanese inhabitants that he foolishly parked all the bombers and fighters in Hickam and Wheeler Fields in neat rows, supposedly to make them easier to guard but actually making them sitting ducks.
What amazed me about watching this movie is how clueless Pearl Harbor's defenders were on that Sunday morning. Though many people think the first shot of the Pacific War was fired by the Japanese, it was actually fired by the USS Ward on a Japanese midget submarine trying to sneak into the harbor. This happened roughly an hour before the first bomb fell on Battleship Row. I would have thought that the report of an unknown submarine being fired upon in a restricted area would have alerted the whole fleet. Wrong! American officers in Oahu were so certain that the Japanese would be spotted long before they could launch a strike that Captain James Earle (Richard Anderson) asks for confirmation before he tells his superiors. This does not make Adm. Husband E. Kimmel (Martin Balsam) very happy and I thought he was very angry that the Ward's initial report did not reach him in time.
The movie makes clear to the audience that history often hinges on small but significant details. Who would have thought that the fate of two great nations would be decided by a diplomat's slow typing speed, or that a report of a large radar blip off to the north of Oahu would be received with the phrase, "Well, don't worry about it."? It sounds like bad fiction but everything in this movie is based on historical fact.
Tora! Tora! Tora! has incredible battle scenes. Most of the aerial scenes were shot using either vintage planes or realistic replicas (because there are no flying Zero fighters, T-28 Texans were modified to look like the famous Japanese planes). The Navy actually allowed 20th Century-Fox to film in and around Pearl Harbor and rented a World War II era carrier that was to be decommissioned to serve as a stand in for the Japanese carrier. Clever editing, good miniature effects and carefully built live action sets give the illusion that one is actually reliving the Day of Infamy.
The 60th Anniversary Special Edition DVD was released around the same time as 2001's Pearl Harbor. It features an all new 20-minute documentary, director's commentary, the orginal theatrical trailer, and restores the movie to its original widescreen format. It has four audio tracks (English 4.1, the commentary, English Dolby Surround, French Mono), and subtitles in English and Spanish.
TORA! TORA! TORA! recreates war from the perspective of news correspondent-participant-observer. The story is presented from both the Japanese and American viewpoints and it is presented like a History Channel film.
It took the film crew several months to film TORA! TORA! TORA! I was living in Navy housing on Pearl Harbor at the time and a number of our friends and acquaintences found part-time jobs acting in the film. "Real" military pilots in-between rounds in Viet Nam flew some of the planes (this was 1969).
Much of the architecture in Honolulu was vintage WWII era or earlier and the rest of the island was relatively unchanged from the 1940s. The terrain looked very much as it had when my father-in-law passed through on his way to Guadalcanel and later Iwo Jima.
I cannot tell you the names of the aircraft (my husband could) but I was told that they used real aircraft from the period including the P40s the U.S. flew and the captured Zeros the Japanese flew. We drove up to Schoffield Barracks to look at the old airplanes lined up row on row. During the filming, one of these old planes crashed in a sugar cane field and burned up before the pilot could be rescued. The daily flights overhead, the real crashes, the reenactment of the destruction in the harbor, the daily flights in and out of Hickam as men and material destined for Viet Nam left and wounded and dead arrived--was all very weird.
Well, this is an excellent film. The new PEARL HARBOR relies on all sorts of technology, but if you want to see how Hawaii really looked in 1941 and how the planes really looked, and how the crews really looked, and obtain some sense of how terrifying it was to be in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 this is the film to see.
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