Steven Spielberg is not well known for his comedic sense (despite some comic moments in his escapist fantasy films) and this, his only true comedy film, is proof why.
There are a lot of clunkers here, but it is still a fun movie, far too underrated by most critics. Featuring a huge cast (perhaps too huge), the film is set in the tense few weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when the whole West Coast was nervous about further Japanese attacks. So, when a bumbling Japanese submarine crew wanders away from its fleet and turns up off the coast looking to bomb Hollywood, all hell breaks loose. John Belushi gives one of the best performances of his career in the too-small role of a lunatic fighter pilot, and Dan Aykroyd and Robert Stack are also good. Completely slumming and out of their element, though, are Christopher Lee as a German officer and Toshiro Mifune as the sub commander.
Spielberg throws in some familiar touches used in his other films (most notably an opening sequence that parodies the opening sequence from "Jaws"). "1941" is an interesting failure -- equal parts laughfest and sprawling mess.
Charleton Heston and John Wayne both turned down the role of General Sitwell (played by Stack) because they felt the film was unpatriotic and insulting to World War II vets.
"I'm a bug!"
"It's Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1963) and "The Russians are Coming! The Russians are Coming!" (1966).
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