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134 - 1941 (1979)

We don’t cover many comedies on The Bloody Pit for various reasons but 1941 (1979) ticks off many boxes for genre fans that makes it nearly perfect for discussion. Toshiro Mifune and Christopher Lee as bickering military leaders trapped together in a submarine? Is this a humorous variation on HELL IN THE PACFIC (1968) hiding in plain sight? 

Mark Maddox joins me to dig into our mutual fascination with this much criticized epic of American madness and wartime paranoia. Told before production that they should make a serious World War II film on the subject instead of a comedy, Spielberg and his team forged ahead with their warped vision of post-Pearl Harbor attack fears. It’s an ambitious tale with dozens of characters and multiple storylines that slowly escalates into a long December night of chaos and violence. I’m sure that a serious movie about this historical incident could be made but I’m so glad that this farce exists in its place. 1941 is one of my favorite comedies of all time and I never cease to laugh at the insanity every time I watch it. 

Using the sprawling template of IT’S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD (1964) we are given a scenario ripe with potential sparks while the plot scatters metaphorical open barrels of gasoline around to how they explode in flames. Combining oddball comedic characters with characters that are taking the spiraling events seriously keeps the entire affair grounded enough to seem believable and suspenseful enough to be thrilling. The nutty folks’ antics never overpower the forward momentum of the wild story even in the extended version of the film that Mark and I discuss. We talk about our first encounters with the film, its effect on us at the time and how popular opinion of it has changed over the years. We dig into the huge cast of amazing actors and debate some of the performances. The topic of the John Williams score is broached with a snippet or two of the music inserted into the show and we marvel at the amazing miniature work in the film’s climax. We do get off-track at least once trying to decide what Spielberg’s worst movie might be. As usual, Mark is wrong! 

If you know which Spielberg film is the weakest the email address is thebloodypit@gmail.com where we’d love to hear from you. And if you think Mark and I should just bash in each other’s heads and call it a day – let us know that too! Thanks for listening to the show. 

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