🎥 Midway – 1976

The Story …

On April 18, 1942, a squadron of B-25 bombers from the USS Hornet launches a raid on Tokyo. The strike stuns the Imperial Japanese Navy and its commander Admiral Yamamoto.

With hard evidence of the threat posed to the Japanese home islands by the carriers of the American Pacific Fleet, Yamamoto is permitted to use his plan to invade Midway Island.

At Pearl Harbor, Captain Matt Garth is tasked with gauging the progress of decryption efforts at Station HYPO, headed by Commander Joseph Rochefort, which has partially cracked the Japanese Navy’s JN-25 code, revealing that a major operation will soon take place at a location the Japanese refer to as “AF”.

Garth is asked by his son, naval aviator Ensign Tom Garth, to help free his girlfriend Haruko Sakura, an American-born daughter of Japanese immigrants, who has been interned with her parents, by calling in favors to have the charges against the family dropped. Yamamoto and his staff present their plans for Midway to the commanders who have been chosen to lead the attack, Admirals Nagumo and Yamaguchi of the Japanese carrier force and Admiral Kondo of the invasion force.

After the inconclusive Battle of the Coral Sea, Rochefort uses a simple ruse to confirm that “AF” is Midway. Knowing the location of the attack, Admiral Nimitz and his staff send the carriers USS Enterprise and USS Hornet, augmented by USS Yorktown, hastily-repaired after being damaged at Coral Sea, to a point north of Midway and lie in wait for the Japanese fleet. Meanwhile, Matt has been unsuccessful in freeing the Sakuras, infuriating Tom.

On June 4, the Japanese fleet is spotted by scouts; the American carriers launch their planes in response. Nagumo’s carrier force launches its air attack on Midway Island. The American base is damaged but the airstrip remains usable, meaning Midway can still launch aircraft. Nagumo learns of a sighting by a scout plane of the Yorktown, disrupting his plans for a second strike on Midway; he orders that his planes be rapidly re-armed with torpedoes for an attack on the American carrier. 

Torpedo bombers from Hornet are the first American planes to locate the Japanese fleet. They attack without fighter protection and are destroyed by the Japanese Combat Air Patrol. Admiral Chūichi Nagumo commends the American pilots’ bravery and remarks, “They sacrifice themselves like samurai, these Americans.” Tom is severely burned when gunfire starts a fire in his cockpit. The Japanese fighters are drawn down to wave-top altitude by the low-flying torpedo planes, leaving them out of position when dive-bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown arrive.

As the Japanese are preparing to launch their second wave, the American bombers attack and reduce three of the Japanese carriers – Akagi, Kaga and Sōryū – to burning wrecks within minutes. When the Akagi is bombed, Nagumo suffers a concussion. As he is tended by Genda, the captain asks, “Admiral, you must transfer your flag. The cruiser Nagara is close by.” Nagumo, disheartened, says “Advise Admiral Yamaguchi.”

Yamaguchi, aboard the remaining Japanese carrier Hiryū immediately launches aircraft. Following the returning American bombers, they soon discover Yorktown and inflict severe damage. The crew manages to bring the fires under control as a scout plane reports that Hiryū has been spotted. Below decks, Matt meets Tom and reconciles with him. Due to a shortage of pilots, Matt joins the counterattack against Hiryū just before its second wave of aircraft strikes.

Yorktown is crippled and the order is given to abandon ship. Hiryū is heavily damaged, and Yamamoto, during a general withdrawal, takes responsibility of apologising for the failure to the Emperor. American planes return to Enterprise and Hornet but Matt, his plane badly damaged, is killed during landing.

As Enterprise docks at Pearl Harbor, the injured younger Garth is carried off the ship, seen by Haruko, as Nimitz reflects that Yamamoto “had everything going for him”, asking “were we better than the Japanese, or just luckier?” …

Credits :

  • Directed by Jack Smight
  • Written by Donald S. Sanford
  • Produced by Walter Mirisch
  • Cinematography : Harry Stradling Jr.
  • Edited by Robert Swink and Frank J. Urioste
  • Music by John Williams
  • Production Company : The Mirisch Corporation
  • Distributed by Universal Pictures
  • Release Date : June 18, 1976

Cast :

  • Charlton Heston as Capt. Matthew Garth
  • Henry Fonda as Adm. Chester W. Nimitz
  • James Coburn as Capt. Vinton Maddox
  • Glenn Ford as Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance
  • Hal Holbrook as Cmdr. Joseph Rochefort
  • Robert Mitchum as Vice Adm. William F. ‘Bull’ Halsey Jr.
  • Toshirō Mifune as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto
  • Cliff Robertson as Cmdr. Jessop
  • Robert Wagner as Lt.Cmdr. Blake
  • Robert Webber as Admiral Jack Fletcher
  • James Shigeta as Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo
  • Pat Morita as Rear Admiral Ryunosuke Kusaka
  • John Fujioka as Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi
  • Ed Nelson as Admiral Harry Pearson
  • Christopher George as Lieutenant Commander C. Wade McClusky
  • Erik Estrada as Pilot “Chili Bean” Ramos
  • Tom Selleck as Aide to Capt. Cyril Simard
  • Robert Ito as Cmdr. Minoru Genda
  • Christina Kokubo as Haruko Sakura
  • Susan Sullivan as Ann (TV Version)
  • Larry Pennell as Captain Cyril Simard
  • Monte Markham as Commander Max Leslie
  • Biff McGuire as Captain Miles Browning
  • Kevin Dobson as Ensign George Gay
  • Glenn Corbett as Lieutenant Commander John Waldron
  • Gregory Walcott as Captain Elliott Buckmaster
  • Edward Albert as Lieutenant Tom Garth
  • Dale Ishimoto as Vice Admiral Moshiro Hosogaya
  • Dabney Coleman as Captain Murray Arnold
  • Clyde Kusatsu as Cmdr. Watanabe
  • Phillip R. Allen as Lt. Cmdr. John S. ‘Jimmy’ Thach
  • Sab Shimono as Lt. Tomonaga
  • Conrad Yama as Adm. Nobutake Kondo
  • Yuki Shimoda as Officer Aboard Carrier Hiryu
  • Seth Sakai  as Capt. Kameto Kuroshima
  • Kurt Grayson as Maj. Floyd ‘Red’ Parks
  • Alfie Wise as Chief Radioman Horace F. Dobbs
  • John Bennett Perry as ARM1c Walter G. Chochalousek
  • Steve Kanaly as Lt. Cmdr. Lance E. “Lem” Massey
  • Kip Niven as Lt. Howard P. Ady, PBY Pilot
  • Dennis Rucker as Dennis Rucker
  • Ens. Manson as Michael Richardson
  • Lt. Woll – Aide to Adm. Nimitz
  • James Ingersoll as Pilot, PBY ‘Strawberry 12’
  • Larry Csonka as Cmdr. Delaney (uncredited)
  • Mitchell Ryan as RAdm. Aubrey W. Fitch
  • Lloyd Kino as Capt. Aoki

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