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. "Sir, there's a large formation of planes coming in from the north, 140 miles, 3 degrees east." "Yeah? Don't worry about it." This is just one of the many mishaps chronicled in Tora! Tora! Tora! The epic film shows the bombing of Pearl Harbor from both sides in the historic first American-Japanese coproduction: American director Richard Fleischer oversaw the complicated production (the Japanese sequences were directed by Toshio Masuda and Kinji Fukasaku, after Akira Kurosawa withdrew from the film), wrestling a sprawling story with dozens of characters into a manageable, fairly easy-to-follow film. The first half maps out the collapse of diplomacy between the nations and the military blunders that left naval and air forces sitting ducks for the impending attack, while the second half is an amazing re-creation of the devastating battle. While Tora! Tora! Tora! lacks the strong central characters that anchor the best war movies, the real star of the film is the climactic 30-minute battle, a massive feat of cinematic engineering that expertly conveys the surprise, the chaos, and the immense destruction of the only attack by a foreign power on American soil since the Revolutionary War. The special effects won a well-deserved Oscar, but the film was shut out of every other category by, ironically, the other epic war picture of the year, Patton. --Sean Axmaker