Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo|
Actors: Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Robert Mitchum
Genres: Action & Adventure, Military & War
First B-25's in training for bombing mission over Japan, under General Jimmy Doolittle's command.
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A cinematic tribute to the real heroes of the Doolittle Raid
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 06/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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."
An historic mission and authentic view of WW2 patriotism
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 08/28/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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. Also, considering the hatred that raged during the war, I was surprised that in one scene Van Johnson says that his family had a Japanese gardener and he didn't seem like a bad guy. And when Doolittle addresses his men before they take off, he talks about the fact that the men will be taking civilian lives as well as the military targets. The raid was successful but the film doesn't end there. Van Johnson and his crew were shot down over China and were treated like heroes by the Chinese. Some of the scenes that followed, where Van Johnson's leg has to be removed are harrowing and displayed his fine acting skills. To get a good understanding of what it must have been like in 1944 in America, this video is a must. Not only do we get a feeling of the patriotism, we also hear the music, hear the slang and get a sense of time and place that is impossible to re-create 50 years later. Highly recommended.
It's a Wartime, war movie after all
J. Collins | Las Vegas, NV USA | 09/02/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""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.
The movie glosses over the development of the plan, and the frustrations Doolittle and his planners encountered. Understandably, since the now USAAF senior leadership would look uncooperative-which they were. Instead the movie gives some standard "Hollywood" personalities: the naive but determined kid from Montana, the loudmouthed but sincere Southern person etc They indulge in some all-American antics up to the time they start training for the mission (My Father who was a crewmember during WW2, would say when he saw what the actors were doing, "crews NEVER acted like that, EVER". Certainly, a crew wagging wings while singing "Rockabye Baby" would've been as peculiar then as now.) Some great social history is here for the viewer who looks for it. This film was made in 1944, and the current issues in US society of that time make it into the movie. Also,the B25 footage is outstanding with some of the actual raid footage-the Nav with the movie camera was a real person-combined with stock and model footage. Actual B25 crews were used for the formation flying and training portions of the film. The operations details make this film valuable as a historical piece. As other reviewers have said, doubtful CGI could improve on the aerial sequences.
So, for anyone interested in WW2 aviation, this is a must-see; the running time given over to schmaltzy "All-Americanisms" instead of the planning keep me from giving it 5 stars, though."
A lesson in history and aviation. You're on board !
M. Jean Marc Cerutti | 04/19/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"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.It's also worth mentioning that feelings are depicted in a fairly modest way and that humility is often present which adds to the consistency of the film.The acting is very good. Van Johnson is Lawson, Robert Mitchum is his pilot friend, Phyllis Baxter is Lawson's wife and Spencer Tracy portrays James Doolittle.If you're fond of these actors, fond of aviation (particularly if you like propellers), fond of history and aviation history and fond of well-shot and well-scripted movies, don't miss this one ! Don't miss the book either."