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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic piece of history, Nov. 7 2013
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This review is from: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (DVD)
Very well researched, great acting and enlightening about an event that changed WWII. A classic to keep the memory of these heroes alive
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5.0 out of 5 stars The flight of the Ruptured Duck, Aug. 12 2011
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo (DVD)
This is a real intriguing back story to the1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan. It even feels like the real thing. We get involved with each little hiccup and problem of Ted Lawson (Van Johnson) as he not only has to prepare for the event but also preparing for another event in parallels as a soon to be father.

Even though this is a van Johnson show, Phyllis Thaxter makes a good show as his wife. The part of Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle is a memorable portrait by Spencer Tracy. Now I have to look up the real Doolittle to remember what he looked like.

Needles to say we spend more than "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" and still not enough time for the whole story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I lost my ship !, April 15 2004
By 
G. Zaehringer (Ventura, California United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
My father was a B-25 flight instructor in WWII. Jimmy Doolittle is part of the Holy Trinity in our house. The Doolittle Raid is burned into all family members at an early age. One of the first times I ever remember my mother laughing at my father's humor was when he was imitating Van Johnson standing in the surf crying, "I lost my ship ! I lost my ship !"
What a great movie.
Each year the Doolittle survivors meet at a different part of the United States in the spring for a reunion. There's less than twenty still alive. Their reunion weekend is open to the public with fees going to charitable events. GO. If you think their heroism is exaggerated over the decades, keep this is mind: A bomber had NEVER taken off from a carrier; for all they knew, every single plane was going to crash into the ocean. And every single crew knew that they were taking off too far away from Japan and that they would NOT reach the Chinese airbases. No one backed out.
Amazing story. Great movie.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gut-wrenching book makes an EXCELLENT movie!, April 21 2003
By 
kimiiii (HYRUM, UT USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
After the massacre of the Doolittle Raid storyline in "Pearl Harbor", this movie hits home even harder. Made the year after the actual event, the trials that Ted Lawson and his crew endured are unbelievable. If made today, the film would be much more graphic by showing just how injured Lawson was when he had to make his escape through China after crash-landing. In the book, he describes it well enough to make me shudder to this day. True to the cinematic style of the 40's, Ellen Lawson is a sweet and enduring woman, true to her man and concerned about her appearance. Having met the real Ellen, I can tell you that she is full of fire, personality, and even sweeter than the movie portrays. This movie gives you a glimpse into a portion of the Doolittle Raid, America's first retaliatory strike on Japan after Pearl Harbor. If you love this film, I would also recommend that you read the book for an even deeper appreciation of these heroic men, along with their Chinese friends who risked their lives to save them. Read anything and everything that CV Glines (Carrol V. Glines) has written about Jimmy Doolittle and his Raiders. Some of the men didn't make it out of China... that book is called "Four Came Home" and it shook me to the core. There are only 18 Raiders still living and it's important that we recognize these little old men for the heroes that they were/are. Much thanks to Ellen Lawson for re-releasing this book so that another generation can read about her amazing husband and his friends who did so much for us, 61 years ago.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Story that Requires no Embellishment, June 1 2002
By 
Mark A. Fluegel (Des Moines, WA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
It's simple. Many subjects for film stemming from WWII are so compelling that they need not be altered by Hollywood to be palatable to large audiences. Yet with a few exceptions, the film industry can't resist not letting a great story based in fact rest on its own merits. 30 Seconds over Tokyo is a rare and refreshing exception to this general rule. It is an extremely accurate and gripping tale of the April 1942 Doolittle raid. What a great opportunity was lost with the abysmal "Pearl Harbor" movie....was the true story not compelling enough? And to add insult to injury they turned the Doolittle raid into "Rambo 4"...2 injured bomber crewman slay 30 Japanese infantry with a .45! Please let me know when I can get "30 Seconds over Tokyo" on DVD. Why isn't it available on that format now???
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Historic Event, Dec 24 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
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 we could bring the war to their shores and the other message was to the American people, who need shoring up after Pearl Harbor.
It was a daring mission and will be long remembered in our military history.
The cast was very good and I thought Spencer Tracy was excellent as Lt. Col. Doolittle.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Movie About the Doolittle Raid, April 22 2003
By 
Jeffrey T. Munson (Dixon, IL) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
Sometimes when movies are made about historical events, many aspects are either left out completely or they are stated incorrectly. Neither is the case with this highly exciting movie. Starring Van Johnson, Spencer Tracy, and Phyllis Thaxter, this movie does an excellent job of accurately portraying the events of the Doolittle raid as it actually happened. Van Johnson stars as Ted Lawson, an actual pilot in the Doolittle raid. The story of the raid is told through his eyes. I've read several books about the raid, and I was pleased that the producers of the film were so correct in their filmmaking. The movie shows the entire process from beginning to end. From the training at Eglin base in Florida to the take-off from the deck of the USS Hornet, each minute detail is covered with historical correctness.
Lawson himself was an advisor to the film. This helped even more with the historical aspect. Van Johnson was an excellent choice to play Lawson. His performance throughout the film made it a pleasure to watch. Phyllis Thaxter does a wonderful job as Ellen Lawson. Top billing for this film went to Spencer Tracy as Jimmy Doolittle, but his role is really an extended cameo; Lawson and his crew are the real stars of the movie.
Perhaps the best part of the movie was the actual take-off from the Hornet, the bombing of Tokyo, and the crash landing in China. unable to parachute from their plane, the crew of Lawson's B-25 were forced to crash land. Lawson was thrown through the cockpit glass upon landing and suffered many broken teeth as well as a severely damaged leg which would later have to be amputated. Fortunately, the crew was aided by many Chinese who risked their lives to keep the flyers safe and eventually they are returned to safe ground. Lawson is concerned about how his wife will feel about him after his leg had been removed, but the ending tells it all. I highly recommend this excellent film. World War II movie fans will surely enjoy this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Marvelous Movie - An Outrage it's Not in DVD, Feb. 16 2003
By 
"boneyard3" (Long Beach, California USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
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 Spit on Your Grave" pop right onto DVD, while greats like this one are left on a dying format (VHS). And for that matter, how about "Battle Hymn", "The D.I.", "The Last Days of Patton", or "The Gods Must Be Crazy"...none of which are yet on DVD? It seems that they leave the best things in the can in a dusty archive waiting for a building fire.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Thirty Seconds over Tokyo, Oct. 2 2002
By 
Jeff Henderson (snellville, ga United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
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 raid more than an actual run.
The B-25 Mitchell bomber, a aging and sagging two-engine 1930s aircraft built from 1925 blueprints based on nineteen-teens technology. The Japanese, confident that the United States did not have the range to bomb the main islands, nevertheless manned a picket-line of Aluetian spotter fishing vessels at the 500-mile mark along the entire eastern shore. Modifications made to reduce the B-25's weight by removing armor plating from the cockpit and gunner's stations became most controversial. As well as anger during the training operations when some of the planes' radial-engine cylinders began to show signs of pitting along with sharp reductions in hp. Normal fuel range of the medium bomber was compensated for by a bold launching from the flight deck of the U.S.S. Hornet. This took all of the space of the ship causing not only normal operations to be suspended, but keeping a respectful distance as well. Fuel was carried inside the planes and empty cannisters dumped at waypoints rather than to leave a 'trail of breadcrumbs' back to the raiding fleet.
Forebodingly, this raid of obsolete little bombers took place at a time when the construction plans for the pressurized B-29 Superfortress hemispheric bomber had already been approved foreshadowing events to come.
Some crew members died when the landing field in China was found to be enshrouded in fog. Some were blindfolded, tortured, and toured through Japanese cities for newspaper photographers.
/with Spencer Tracey.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, July 19 2002
By 
magellan (Santa Clara, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Thirty Sec.Over Tokyo (VHS Tape)
This movie is a refreshing respite from such current over-hyped and unrealistic war movies as Pearl Harbor. The movie realistically and unsentimentally tells the story of the daring Doolittle raid, concentrating on the crew of one of the 16 bombers, headed up by Van Johnson as captain, where he turns in a fine performance. But the other characters are also nicely drawn and neither over-romanticized nor over-sentimentalized. Some of the action sequences, such as the actual bombing raid at low altitude over Tokyo, are truly spectacular. I don't know how they did it, without modern technology, but this scene could stand up to any modern movie's special effects any time. The movie also realistically portrays the training for the mission, where the crews are taught to take off in 500 feet instead of 1500 feet, the normal take-off distance for a B-24. As a result, you get to see a lot of the inside of the planes as well as the outside, again adding to the overall realism. Interestingly, Tracy doesn't have that big a part in the movie, compared to Johnson and his crew, but when he does appear, usually to just brief the men on their upcoming mission, he's nevertheless superb. Another interesting aspect of the movie is Doolittle's discussion of civilian casualties, and that any pilot who objects to killing civilians can withdraw from the mission without penalty if he so chooses. All in all a fine movie that shows that the old Hollywood greats knew how to make a better war movie than the moderns with all their extra resources and technology. Big Steve says go see it (or in this case rent it or buy it), and don't Bogart he popcorn.
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Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo
Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo by Mervyn LeRoy (DVD - 2007)
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