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  • Bruce H. McIntosh
    scotsman@afn.org
    Visit my work homepage
    Last revised Nov 02, 2017

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    Writings of various natures on various topics

    Inaccuracies and anachronisms and cheese oh my! - A review of Pearl Harbor


    Right up front, let me confess to having been a World War II nut since early childhood. You may thus understand the depths of my disappointment with this movie. I believe Roger Ebert said it best:

    "The Japanese attack an American love triangle."
    I find it inexcusable that such a pivotal event in history, and one as well documented from just about all angles, can come in for such slipshod treatment at the hands of moviemakers, but I guess I shouldnt be too surprised. Just let down.

    If the producers can expend so much time,money and effort to make everything look big and splashy,why not go the extra 1/4 mile and make it look *right*? Spielberg managed it for Saving Private Ryan,even with the somewhat far-fetched plot device. Flaws abound,and have been pointed out in great depth elsewhere (the most glaring are the guided missile frigates in the harbor, the off-scale appearance of the Oklahoma as she capsizes (with an impossible torpedo hole in her starboard side, which was shielded by the Maryland *and* Ford Island), no mention of Nevada's dramatic attempt to get underway and subsequent beaching, etc).

    To my legion of fellow critics I say,"read your history before trashing the 'token black' Dorie Miller subplot". Ship's Cook 3rd Miller did,in fact,give aid and comfort to West Virginia's dying captain,did,in fact,man a machine gun for 15 minutes (during which he believed he shot down a Japanese plane) and was,in fact,the first black recipient of the Navy Cross (awarded in early 1942 by Admiral Nimitz). Aside from the mistaken coffee-service bit (he was actually bagging laundry at the time) that was one of the things the producers got right.

    Focusing on the Dolittle Raid,I saw only lost opportunities - how Dolittle convinced his superiors to let him fly,the fates of the crews (who flew solo rather than in formation and were scattered all over the place afterwards) and Dolittle's dejection at the "failed" raid and his subsequent accolades... all of this was jettisoned as the producers got out the Ritz crackers and Velveeta and went for the cheesy,contrived,convenient resolution of the important part of the movie,that cockamamie love triangle.

    In sum,so many opportunities,so little follow through. Rent In Harm's Way for schmaltz,and Tora! Tora! Tora! for a faithful yet dramatic portrayal of attack itself. Better yet,snag a copy of At Dawn We Slept,and read up on the historical tapestry that this movie never really touched.

    First appeared as a user comment on Pearl Harbor at IMDB.

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