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Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (DVD)
There is no more ringing title among World War II movies than Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, and the mission it celebrates was unquestionably historic: a 400-mile bombing raid to carry the war to Japan itself mere months after that nation's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. Yet the film is less memorable than many WWII pictures with less exalted factual basis. At the time, critic James Agee eloquently defined both its virtues and limitations as "a big-studio, big-scale film, free of artistic pretension ... transformed by its not very imaginative but very dogged sincerity into something forceful, simple, and thoroughly sympathetic in spite of all its big-studio, big-scale habits." That remains true today, but perhaps the movie--and its unimpeachably noble, admirably life-sized characters--wouldn't seem so stuck in the amber of a bygone era if Mervyn LeRoy and company had pumped a little "artistic pretension" into it.
Spencer Tracy--as James H. Doolittle, architect of the raid--rates the most towering screen credit, and he's superb. But his role's an extended cameo; the emotional core of the film is B-25 pilot Ted Lawson (Van Johnson) and his wife, Ellen (the glowing Phyllis Thaxter). Lawson's bestselling memoir (with Bob Considine) of his training for the secret mission, his group's launching from the aircraft carrier Hornet, and his crash landing and protracted ordeal in China--where he lost a leg--has been faithfully served. The film is long on homely detail and all-American decency (including a remarkably outspoken regret over the unavoidability of civilian casualties) but achieves its greatest impact in the raid itself. That sequence, in addition to boasting Oscar-winning special effects, is mostly shot in riveting silence. --Richard T. Jameson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Very well researched, great acting and enlightening about an event that changed WWII. A classic to keep the memory of these heroes alivePublished on Nov. 7 2013 by PabloC
This is a real intriguing back story to the1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan. It even feels like the real thing. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2011 by B. Chandler
The Doolittle Raid was an historic event, not propaganda, as suggested in another review.
The raid carried out in 1942 conveyed two messages: one to the Japanese people, that... Read more
Sorry, but I'm going to vent a little. Why is a movie as great as this not in DVD? It makes me wonder how it is that idiotic drivel like "American Idol", "The Real World" and "I... Read morePublished on Feb. 16 2003
Probably one of the best propaganda movies of World War II. Produced in 1944 to increase morale, America's first bombing mission over the Japanese main islands was designated a... Read morePublished on Oct. 2 2002 by Jeff Henderson
This movie is a refreshing respite from such current over-hyped and unrealistic war movies as Pearl Harbor. Read morePublished on July 18 2002 by magellan
On April 18 1942, sixteen B-25 Mitchell bombers roared off the deck of the aircraft carrier U.S.S Hornet. Read morePublished on July 18 2002
After watching the disastrous, multi-million-dollar hokum in 'Pearl Harbor' this weekend, I got therapy by going straight home to re-play this wonderful 1944 classic from Mervyn... Read morePublished on July 15 2002 by Great Movie Addict