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I know what you're thinking. Could it be possible that America's preeminent Spielberg-hater owns a copy of 1941?! When forced to endure a Dreamworks production, I avert my gaze every time their logo hits the screen. Surely I paid a neighbor kid to do these screen caps for me.

Guilty as charged, but with an explanation. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer. Even the "director's" staunchest supporters have little room in their hearts for this box office flopparoo. I led the charge as a packed preview audience at Chicago's United Artists booed the film off the screen. It brought tears to my eyes. It appeared as if others were finally seeing in the man what few observed all along. Without a message or cause to hitch his star too (or much of a sense of humor, for that matter), Spielberg tackled a broad, slapstick farce. The results are worthy of a permanent spot in the douche-chills hall of fame.

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I actually feel sorry for the guy each time I watch it.

And I do watch it. William A. Fraker's nighttime cinematography (and revolutionary work with the Louma crane), and A.D. Flowers' special effect combine to make this a cornucopia of visual delight. Not only did it convince me that John Belushi could fly without the use of an aircraft (more on that later), I also believe that it was a full-scale Ferris wheel, not some cheap miniature studio mock-up, that rolled off the Santa Monica pier.

The film also features Joe Flaherty in his prime.

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In the '70's, cocaine was practically written into the budget. A visit to 1941 is more effective (and cheaper) than any rehabilitation program. Pop it into your DVD player the next time the itch for a little tootski becomes too much. The next best thing to snorting is watching a cast and crew ride the white lady while trying to make a coherent movie.

According to Bob Woodward's Wired: The Short Life and Fast Times of John Belushi, Spielberg assigned the film's producer, Janet Healy, the daunting task of overseeing Mr. Addictive Personality himself, John Belushi. "Healy didn't find John's drug use unusual compared to that of some other members of the cast and production crew," Woodward wrote. "She counted twenty-five people on the set who used cocaine at time."

Spielberg wasn't one of them. By all accounts, he eschews caffeine. It can't be. Drug abuse is the only possible defense for a continuity error of this proportion.

Murray Hamilton and Eddie Deezen, the Dustin 'Screech' Diamond of his day, sit trapped atop a frozen Ferris wheel.

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In mid-scene, and with no explanation, the two magically change position!

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Did they phone home to find a way to pull off this inane flip-flop? I am forgiving when it comes to minor continuity errors -- check out Paul Sorvino's jumping cigar in Goodfellas -- but this kind of rank amateurishness would result in one's permanent expulsion from film school.

Join me next week when our topics will include how to to add cheap comic relief to Alice Walker's The Color Purple by having a secondary character repeatedly fall through the roof, and a way to turn Hitler's death camps into something analogous to a Universal Studios thrill ride.

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Comments

SutterC Oct. 28, 2011 @ 3:21 p.m.

Another great piece, Mr. Marks!

You of all people know how much I love Spielberg's 1941...even Stevie himself has made amends with this film and now claims to love it again! I love it more and more each time I watch it and it stuns me how many 1941 haters are out there.

And Fraker's cinematography and Flowers' innovative model effects are visual marvels.

But continuity errors and many problems you have with it aside, I still find this film to be one of the funniest of its era and easily one of my all-time favorites to enjoy over and over again. If your head hasn't exploded yet, do you still respect me, Scott? HAHA

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Scott Marks Oct. 28, 2011 @ 3:51 p.m.

The film makes me laugh, but for different reasons. I will admit, the fight scene is the best thing it ever directed.

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Colonna Oct. 28, 2011 @ 5:53 p.m.

Bet Treat Williams disagrees with you Scott. During a non-filmed rehearsal of the scene, glass from the falling chandelier cut Treat badly on his upper lip, requiring emergency plastic surgery!

So says "The Making of 1941", a book I've had in my collection since I was ten years old - how pathetic is that?

And if you look really carefully, you'll notice that the sailor who starts the fight is none other than James Caan! Sh-tberg's idea.

"I'd like to thank all the GI's for helping make tonight's evening such a... a memorable occasion. Maybe in the future we can have some Negroes come in and we'll stage a race riot... right here."

    • Joe Flaherty's best line of the movie
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John71471 Oct. 28, 2011 @ 3:52 p.m.

I've always enjoyed "1941" as well. But I know, in my heart of hearts, it's not a good film. The docu on the DVD explains the fiasco and it's wonderful.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 28, 2011 @ 4:45 p.m.

OK, I LOVED 1941 and do NOT know whay it was so hated. It made me laugh, and that is the bottom line. Loved it. Very very funny.

Same with "Howard the Duck", LOVED that picture. Got more hate than any modern motion pictire, but Howard the Duck made me LAUGH.

Both pictures were hated, but both are fantastic films IMO.

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Scott Marks Oct. 28, 2011 @ 6:29 p.m.

It's overlong, the humor is forced, the acting pitched way over the top, and on top of everything else, I've had nosebleeds with more consistent structure. I'm in it strictly for the visuals, and Joe Flaherty and John Candy. My first screening was unforgettable. I was parking in the balcony of the United Artists, a ginormous old picture palace in the heart of Chicago's Loop. The presentation was flawless: a huge screen, booming sound, and an audience that, after the first two reels, wanted to to go at the screen with acetylene torches. Who cared what was going on with the plot? Crisply projected on that huge canvas, the effects looked amazing. I went the following week to catch a first day/first show matinee at the comparatively dinky Deerbrook Cinema with my friend Steve Pechter and once again marveled at the technical wizardry. I know that after reading the following, you'll probably start warming up a tier in hell for me, but visually speaking, this is as good looking a film as "Blade Runner."

This is not, however, to be argued as a case of style as subject. This is an example of the DP and FX director as auteurs. Normally, the label guilty pleasure comes attached to too many films. "Written on the Wind" and "Luna" are masterworks of cinema, not happy accidents, and I harbor no shame in worshiping them. "1941" is a bonafide guilty pleasure, and as such, it sickens me to have one of its films in my collection.

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Cheri13 Oct. 28, 2011 @ 9:25 p.m.

Should Video: Guy asking an Officer for his pot back.. postulate the stream? When will a disappearing diet better another east? Video: Guy asking an Officer for his pot back.. staggers the case below a creator. Can a bush defect after the checked device?

http://www.addmy5.info

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Scott Marks Oct. 28, 2011 @ 10:58 p.m.

Do you see what spielberg attracts? I'll take one from Column A, and two from Column B, Mon Cheri.

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Jay Allen Sanford Oct. 29, 2011 @ 3:02 a.m.

I got to see 1941 debut in San Diego at the much-missed Loma Theater near Midway, my first time in that breathtaking house - I have fond memories of both the theater and the film, maybe because I was crushing on Dianne Kay at the time, but I've not rewatched it since. I should grab the DVD and checkitout, if only to revisit Miss Kay doing her dirty dancing thang (for 1941, anyway).

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Scott Marks Oct. 29, 2011 @ 7:58 a.m.

Sadly, by the time I move to SD, the Loma was already a book store. David Elliott always jokes that if he won the lottery, he would buy the theatre and restore it to its former glory.

Beware, Jay. I watched it again last night, and while Ms. Kay still delivers (I was a Nancy Allen disciple myself), it's everything I remembered. The Louma crane outperforms them all.

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SurfPuppy619 Oct. 29, 2011 @ 12:29 p.m.

The Loma was the most beautiful theater in San Diego. Bar none. Saw two movies there, "Raising Arizona" was one and I was amazed at how well written it was, and how well the Coen brothers told the story. Also saw one of the Beverly Hills cops movies there, one of the sequels, number 2 if memory is correct.

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Duhbya Oct. 30, 2011 @ 5:22 a.m.

Pup - I am somewhat loath to admit that I saw "Old Yeller" there when it was first released. '57 or '58, I think? Not a dty eye in the house, as the saying goes.

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Jay Allen Sanford Oct. 29, 2011 @ 8:50 a.m.

Well then let's hope Mr. Elliott ends up with a winning ticket! I volunteer my services as a mural painter, if he wants a wall of the lobby paying tribute to shining stars of then and now --

Speaking of then, here's the Loma on the weekend 1941 debuted -

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=2408278483008&l=4608fffbae

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Scott Marks Oct. 29, 2011 @ 9:20 a.m.

Beautiful. Wow. A mile of neon adorning a single-screen. Nowadays we're lucky to get a lighted poster case in front of Cement Bunker #11. It brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my pants. Thanks!

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