I know it’s late in the day for this, but…
For a day that’s lived “in infamy,” Dec. 7, 1941, has been the inspiration for a lot of films. It’s kind of a quirky way to remember one of the more significant events in American history,
but my brain is fried and I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate Pearl Harbor Day in the limited time I have.
Pearl Harbor spawned a lot of movies. So here’s a brief trip down memory lane.
The biggies, of course, are the inimitable Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), From Here to Eternity (1953) and its star-studded cast, and In Harms Way (1965) with John Wayne. They’re all good, though I remember some better than others.
I’d be curious to see the depictions in the earliest wartime releases: Secret Agent of Japan (1942) and (the originally named) December 7, 1941 (1943).
Or a couple of cinematic looks at Pearl Harbor from Japan. There’s I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1961), Admiral Yamamoto (1968), and Imperial Navy (1980).
More recent additions include The Final Countdown (1980) – the paranormal alternate history mindbender featuring Kirk Douglas and Martin Sheen. I think cable channels conspired to play this movie at least once a week during a long stretch of the 1990s.
Of course, there was the 1983 ABC miniseries Winds of War, based on the Herman Wouk classic. And a 1988 sequel titled War and Remembrance. Can’t say I have much remembrance of either one.
Finally, don’t ask me about the Ben Affleck-infected Pearl Harbor (2001). I took in 30 minutes of the battle sequence but vowed never to watch it from start to finish.
So which is the best? The worst? Which have you seen? Which would you like to see?
Deeper questions to think about when I have more time and brain energy… how have the depictions of that fateful day evolved on the big screen over the decades… and over the generations? Movies can often give a good glimpse into the soul of a culture.
And how will our depictions of 9/11 in film compare to those made of Pearl Harbor? Or can they even be compared? Is it too early to tell? As you can see, my mind is starting to drift off….