Midway (1976)


Introduction

Midway, released in the United Kingdom as Battle of Midway, is a 1976 American Technicolor war film directed by Jack Smight and produced by Walter Mirisch from a screenplay by Donald S. Sanford.

It is a dramatisation of the battle that was widely heralded as a turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II.

You can find Midway (2019) here.

Outline

The film chronicles the Battle of Midway, a turning point in World War II in the Pacific. The Imperial Japanese Navy had been undefeated until that time and out-numbered the American naval forces by four to one. It follows two threads; one centred on the Japanese chief strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and the other on naval aviators Captain Matt Garth and his son, Ensign Thomas Garth.

The film starts with the Doolittle Raid (April 1942), and then goes on briefly to mention the Battle of the Coral Sea (May 1942). It then describes the planning for the Battle of Midway (June 1942), depicting the creation of a complicated battle plan. Unknown to the Japanese, American signals intelligence has broken the Japanese Naval encryption codes and suspects that the ambush will take place at Midway Island. They then trick the Japanese into confirming it. Senior officer Matt Garth is involved in various phases of the US planning and execution of the battle, while pilot Thomas Garth is romantically involved with Haruko Sakura, an American-born daughter of Japanese immigrants, who has been interned with her parents. Captain Garth calls in all of his favours with a long-time friend to investigate the charges against the Sakuras. American Admiral Chester Nimitz plays a desperate gamble by sending his last remaining aircraft carriers to Midway before the Japanese to set up his own ambush. The gamble pays off and all four of the Japanese carriers are destroyed in the battle of Midway. Captain Garth himself is killed at the end of the battle when his plane crashes, while the injured younger Garth is carried off the ship, seen by a free Haruko at the dockside.

Successful in saving Midway, but at a heavy cost, Nimitz reflects that Yamamoto “had everything going for him”, asking “were we better than the Japanese, or just luckier?”

Cast

  • Charlton Heston as Captain Matthew Garth.
  • Henry Fonda as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz.
  • James Coburn as Captain Vinton Maddox.
  • Glenn Ford as Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance.
  • Hal Holbrook as Commander Joseph Rochefort.
  • Toshiro Mifune (voiced by Paul Frees) as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto.
  • Robert Mitchum as Vice Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey Jr.
  • Cliff Robertson as Cmdr. Carl Jessop.
  • Robert Wagner as Lieutenant Commander Ernest L. Blake.
  • Robert Webber as Rear Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher.
  • Ed Nelson as Rear Admiral Harry Pearson.
  • James Shigeta as Vice Admiral Chūichi Nagumo.
  • Christina Kokubo as Haruko Sakura.
  • Monte Markham as Cmdr. Max Leslie.
  • Biff McGuire as Captain Miles Browning.
  • Christopher George as Lieutenant Commander C. Wade McClusky.
  • Kevin Dobson as Ensign George H. Gay Jr.
  • Glenn Corbett as Lieutenant Commander John C. Waldron.
  • Gregory Walcott as Captain Elliott Buckmaster.
  • Edward Albert as Lieutenant Thomas Garth.
  • Pat Morita as Rear Admiral Ryūnosuke Kusaka.
  • John Fujioka as Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi.
  • Dale Ishimoto as Vice Admiral Boshirō Hosogaya.
  • Dabney Coleman as Captain Murray Arnold.
  • Erik Estrada as Ensign Ramos “Chili Bean”.
  • Larry Pennell as Captain Cyril Simard.
  • Clyde Kusatsu as Cmdr. Watanabe Yasimasa.
  • Phillip R. Allen as Lieutenant Commander John S. “Jimmy” Thach.
  • Tom Selleck as Aide to Capt. Cyril Simard.
  • Sab Shimono as Lt. Jōichi Tomonaga.
  • Conrad Yama as Admiral Nobutake Kondō.
  • Robert Ito as Commander Minoru Genda.
  • Seth Sakai as Captain Kameto Kuroshima.
  • Kurt Grayson as Major Floyd “Red” Parks.
  • Steve Kanaly as Lt. Cmdr. Lance E. Massey.

Trivia

  • Midway was shot at the Terminal Island Naval Base, Los Angeles, California, the US Naval Station, Long Beach, California, and Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida.
  • The on-board scenes were filmed in the Gulf of Mexico aboard USS Lexington. Lexington, an Essex-class aircraft carrier, was the last World War II-era carrier left in service at that point, although the ship was completed after the battle.
    • She is now a museum ship at Corpus Christi, Texas.
  • Scenes depicting Midway Island were filmed at Point Mugu, California. “Point Mugu has sand dunes, just like Midway.
    • We built an airstrip, a tower, some barricades, things like that,” said Jack Smight. “We did a lot of strafing and bombing there.”
  • A Consolidated PBY-6A Catalina BuNo 63998, N16KL, of the Commemorative Air Force, was used in depicting all the search and rescue mission scenes.
  • The soundtrack used Sensurround to augment the physical sensation of engine noise, explosions, crashes and gunfire.
  • Despite mixed reviews, Midway became the tenth most popular movie at the box office in 1976.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Jack Smight.
  • Producer(s): Walter Mirisch.
  • Writer(s): Donald S. Sanford.
  • Music: John Williams.
  • Cinematography: Harry Stradling Jr.
  • Editor(s): Robert Swink and Frank J. Urioste.
  • Production: The Mirisch Corporation.
  • Distributor(s): Universal Pictures.
  • Release Date: 18 June 1976 (US).
  • Running time: 131 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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