Sign in to follow this  
moviebuff826

question about a WWII movie "Midway"

13 posts in this topic

I just wondered if anyone remembered the original showing of "Midway" having the main character (Charleton Heston) involved with a woman (actress was Susan Sullivan). It even showed her at the end of the movie when the carrier came back without Heston and when they were taking his wounded son off of the ship. I have looked EVERYWHERE I can think of to try to find this copy of the movie but I've never found it. I believe it made the movie about 3 hours long, then, instead of the 2+ hour version that's always shown now. Oh, there also was a reference, in this particular version of the movie, to the injury that Heston (his character) sustained to his hand during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. I'd appreciate any help I could get on this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There was a TV version shown, in which Susan Sullivan appears. So some of that footage was probably added for the television broadcast.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, sorry. It was probably a one-shot deal that the network did when they aired the film. Sometimes they take footage deleted from a film and put it back for the television broadcast, to pad out the time slot. Maybe if the movie turns up on a local channel, you might see that version.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

TNT cable channel added 40 to 50 minutes to this film in the 1990?s as part of their salute to veterans over the Memorial Day weekend.

 

Most of the scenes added were of the Battle of the Coral Sea with Rear Admiral Aubrey Fitch played by Mitchell Ryan and Robert Webber as Adm. Jack Fletcher;

 

A relationship of Charlton Heston?s character with a younger woman named Ann played by Susan Sullivan, she is seen during the beginning and at the end as it was said earlier;

 

And a friendly relationship between Adm. Naguma played by James Shigeta and a young pilot who is about to participate in the Coral Sea battle.

 

I remember going to the Oakbrook cinema in Oakbrook, Illinois during the summer of 1976 and watching this film in Sensurround. My friend and I were only sixteen at the time, but we were blown away by the sound effects. There were not many people in the theater, and when the explosions went off, the empty seats in front of us actually shook!

 

Up to that point I was a fairly serious and avid reader of everything US Navy and American history. I remember talking with my friend afterwards and even though it was a thrill to see this movie, overall I was dissapointed with the overall ?feel? of this movie.

 

Especially with the use of actual wartime footage and the insertion of so much footage from older Hollywood films. This film started off with a recreation of Doolittle?s famous raid on Tokyo. The producers had to use footage from the great ?Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo? for almost the entire part of the movie dealing with the raid! They could not even come up with something different or unique on their own. And the models they used were in some cases very well done, but overall very poorly conceived. Especially after Garth and the other American carrier pilots drop their loads and zoom away. The camera cuts back to show the just exploding bombs on the Japanese carriers and the models are just so poorly shown. You can tell that they are just either paper mache or plastic models in a bath tub like environment.

 

Overall, I would have to say that this is one of the worst WWII films ever made. The only thing I can say that was good about it (IMHO) is the interplay between Heston and Holbrook, and Holbrook an Fonda. Glenn Ford is very good as Adm. Spruance.

 

Too bad the producers couldn?t have come up with as good a film as Tora! Tora! Tora! Instead, they could only lift scenes from Tora! for their film. If you look closely, during the Japanese attack on Midway Island, some of the shots show torpedo planes dropping their torpedos on ships in Pearl Harbor, obviously from Tora!

 

Really, a missed opportunity for the producers.

 

There is however, something to look forward to in 2009......

 

HBO?s ?The Pacific? a ten part mini series from the same production team that brought us ?Band of Brothers?. Although it concentrates on a group of Marines, I am hoping that they show some naval battles as well.

 

Hopefully someone will produce a naval type of mini series or film in the near future.

 

Oh, and by the way, I also though ?Pearl Harbor? was poorly made as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oh, I presently do not have HBO but could you let me know when that series about the war in the Pacific comes up?

I know what you mean about the models in the bath tub thing and I agree that they could've done it better. As far as the battle scenes go, I've noticed in a lot of other WWII movies that they all seem to borrow these same WWII clips. I wonder if there is a limited number of actual battle scenes that were recorded at the time? I think, too, as far as trying to recreate scenes it's probably getting harder and harder to do this with accuracy as so many eye witnesses to these events are now dying and even many of the original planes, etc. are disappearing. I've been to an air show where vintage WWII fighter and bomber planes are flown and on static display and many of the pilots are saying that there just aren't many of these left anymore.

What was it about the movie "Pearl Harbor" that you didn't like? I thought the recreation of the Oklahoma rolling over was extremely touching and gave at least some idea of how awful that whole attack must have been. The whole love story in the movie was just ok but I guess I should look more for the documentaries for the realism.....lol. I just thought the special effects during the battle scenes were pretty neat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I doubt it will show up on tv that way, anymore, as everytime I've seen this movie (Midway) on tv they don't have that part in it. I have seen the one mentioned where Susan Sullivan was at the beginning and at the end but not in the rest of the movie, but I've only seen that once. The time when I saw her as more of a part of the movie was probably back in the 70's when it first showed on tv and I don't think I've seen the movie like that since and I've seen this movie numerous times. It's too bad that they cut such big parts out of these movies. Sometimes, it adds a lot more as far as explanation of certain parts of the movie, if they would just keep it in.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was the RTT officer assigned to the Army MARS station at Ft MacArthur's upper reservation where all of the radio intercept scenes were filmed. I recall the scene where Heston was told to drive through the winding tunnel that led into the fac'y, park, salute and walk into Holbrook's office (which was really a storeroom.) They did the scene in one shot but it took almost an entire day to set up. Most of the other base scenes were filmed on the lower reservation. The inside scene with Heston and Holbrook were filmed on different days. It was a great day because all of the (real) military people assigned to the fac'y had great fun repeating Heston's line: "That only one word in ten!!!" Heston himself got a great charge out of us saluting him and repeating his line, "That's only one word in ten, SIR!"

 

-- Phill

http://www.americanwarlibrary.com/a44/pcole.htm

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I clearly remember the version you are interested in. The original theatrical release did not have "The Battle of The Coral Sea"or the extra Heston narrative in it. They were first seen on the network TV debut in the late seventies. I have been fortunate enough to have seen the long version twice. I would be interested in getting the long version too, but I have had no luck as well.

Remember the "Sensurround" effects?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, Midway was originally shown on tv over two nights on NBC if I remember correctly in the late 70s. In order to fill the two evening movie slots, a lot of material that was originally cut from the theatrical release was restored, mainly the Coral Sea action. This version does pop up from time to time on TNT or some such.

Some trivia notes;

The end music (John Williams, pre Star Wars) is different between the two versions.

The footage that takes place on the Japanese carriers, specifically the fires, anti aircraft guns in action, etc actually come from an early 60s Toshiro Mifune Japanese war movie called "I Bombed Pearl Harbor".

Footage from 'Battle of Britain' is also used to show planes going down in smoke.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

To address a number of issues raised in this thread:

 

Re: "Midway" vs. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" -- One thing that bugged me about "Midway" was the introduction of fictional characters and the subplot about Tom Garth's love affair with the Japanese-American woman, Haruko. Although "Tora! Tora! Tora!" is a very clunky movie in terms of storytelling, its creators played it straight as a docudrama and tried to stick rigorously to the facts (allowing for some invented dialogue to explain the facts, etc.). I can't recall that there were any important fictional characters in that film. The people who made "Midway" didn't do a bad job of telling the basic story of the battle, but the subplot was distracting and unnecessary from an historical standpoint. The much-later "Pearl Harbor" was largely an attempt to recreate the boxoffice success of "Titanic" -- a love story against the backdrop of an historic disaster. It worked even less well than "Midway." I guess that conventional wisdom in Hollywood is that the woman decides what picture she and her significant other will see at the multiplex on Saturday night, and the woman won't choose any film without some romantic angle in it. That's an attitude that's ruined many a movie.

 

Moreover, with "Pearl Harbor," the "personal" story required a substantial bending of history -- an Army Air Corps pilot joins the RAF before December 1941? two fighter pilots take part in the Doolittle Raid? -- to move it along. At least "Tora! Tora! Tora!" and "Midway" get the history pretty close to right.

 

From a technical point of view, "Pearl Harbor" may seem like a state-of-the-art recreation of history, although one can point out some significant errors (e.g., the use of modern warships in the attack scenes). CGI can be useful in synthesizing images of the past, but only as useful as the people who wield it. "Tora! Tora! Tora!" was state-of-the-art in its day -- e.g., the producers went to a fair amount of expense to "rebuild" Japanese Zeros and Vals from AT-6s and BT-13s, so that the attacking planes looked something more like the real thing than just the standard AT-6 that often doubled for the Zero in the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the special effects, particularly the miniatures, were not so good. On the other hand, the attack on Wheeler Field was startling for its time -- still stands up well. "Midway" of course, would use some of the "Tora!" footage (as did a number of later theatrical and TV films -- "Pearl!" and "Australia" among them) because it did look so authentic. However, whereas "Tora!" used little if any stock or newsreel footage, "Midway" was rife with it, and it was easy for even the untrained viewer to see that the aircraft in the newsreels and the aircraft in the movies didn't always match up. It was as though the filmmakers thought that USN carrier aircraft all looked alike. (Hey, they all have a single radial engine, right?) Mixing up the F6Fs and the F4Fs and the SB2Cs and SBDs was most annoying.

 

Despite its technical drawbacks, and the rather didactic nature of the script, I would still consider "Tora! Tora! Tora!" the best historical film about Pearl Harbor, in terms of getting the facts (mostly if not totally) right. "Pearl Harbor" is more about youth and heartbreak than about history. "Midway" shot itself in the foot with that creaky love-story and the careless use of stock footage. Would that some bright person -- hey! Spielberg! Listen Up! -- would do a Midway film based on Ens. George Gay, the sole survivor of the Hornet's Torpedo 8. He could work in the Doolittle Raid again, and he could tell the story of a group of men who made an extraordinary sacrifice to win a crucial battle.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In his memoirs, "I Thought We Were Just Making Movies, Not History," producer Walter Mirisch discusses his reasons for making MIDWAY, a long-cherished project. One of them is that he saw the film as a "corrective" for TORA! TORA! TORA! ("MIDWAY is about a victory; TORA! TORA! TORA! is about a defeat," or words to that effect. I'm too lazy this evening to go retrieve the book and quote it verbatim).

 

In this, Mirisch is, I'm afraid, defending his poorly-conceived and indifferently executed film at the expense of a far better film, even taking into account its not inconsiderable flaws. That he felt that MIDWAY needed to devote a significant amount of its time and energy to a fictional romance-dilemma, carved as it was out of 1970s social consciousness, and not from any genuine situation faced by those living in the 1940s (an era in which the federal government blithely interned hundreds of thousands of West Coast Japanese-Americans in hellish detention camps) speaks to the suspicions any observers may have had that Mirisch's film had no real story, and very little faith on the dramatic validity of the Battle of Midway, itself (take a look at a film like THE DAM BUSTERS, sometime, to see a war film whose facts are clearly ample grounds for making the movie).

 

In dismissing TORA! TORA! TORA! as a "defeat," Mirisch either doesn't appreciate, or care, that there's something far more primal at its heart than anything in his own film. The attack on peal Harbor was merely the first link in a chain of events that led, inevitably and inexorably, to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the collapse of the Japanese Empire, and U.S. Occupation of Japan, with its imposition of martial law, and end of the rule of militarists in the name of the Emperor (though one can argue that the first link of that chain extends all the way back to the opening of Japan by Ambassador Townsend Harris -- the character played by John Wayne in THE BARBARIAN AND THE GEISHA -- in 1853, or at least the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931).

 

As such, TORA! TORA! TORA! is clearly a film about fate. While such a thing has never been a selling point for any movie (no one says, "Say, Edna, let's go down to the Bijou; I hear they're showing a great movie about fate"), a movie, or any worthy drama, must have a spine, an underpinning that informs its scenes with a reason for existing. In its unavoidable reliance on fate, TORA! TORA! TORA! offers that reason for existence in a way that MIDWAY cannot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately a really good film about the battle and how desperate it was, still waits to be made.

I think that the best we can hope for now is a really lengthy and accurate account done as a documentary.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us