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Trivia / Tora! Tora! Tora!

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  • Backed by the Pentagon: The armed forces let the filmmakers do extensive location work and numerous large scale action sequences on active military bases, even allowing the producers to build a partial replica of the USS Nevada at Battleship Row. Some scenes even had real-life military personnel in bit parts and as extras.
  • Beam Me Up, Scotty!: It makes for a great movie line but there is no evidence that Admiral Yamamoto ever said the "sleeping giant" quote commonly attributed to him. He had similar sentiments, but prior to the film he was never quoted as saying even a similar line.
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  • Box Office Bomb: Budget, $25.5 million. Box office, $29,548,291. This film began the disintegration in the relationship between Fox chairman Darryl F. Zanuck and his son Richard. Shortly after this film, Richard fired his father's girlfriend, producer Genevieve Gilles, which led Darryl to convince the Fox board to fire Richard, which led his ex-wife and Richard's mother Virginia to convince shareholders to fire Darryl. Richard won the feud and became a long-running producer that helped the careers of Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, and other Hollywood heavyweights, while Darryl never worked in Hollywood again. It was also part of a series of Fox flops that put the studio in dire straits until Star Wars. As for the crew of the film, it's the final co-American film co-director Kinji Fukasaku ever took part in and put dents in the careers of the writers and co-director Richard Fleischer. All this said, it would eventually be Vindicated by Cable and gain notoriety for its groundbreaking visual effects.
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  • Cast the Expert: Jason Robards (General Short) was a Navy sailor stationed at Pearl Harbor at the time of the attack. He was not present, as his ship was out to sea at the time.
  • Enforced Method Acting: A radio-controlled aircraft was supposed to roll down the runway past a bunch of extras, and then blow up. It went out of control and swerved toward the extras, who then really did start running for their lives.
  • Throw It In!: The B-17 crash-landing was a real accident during filming.
  • What Could Have Been: The movie was originally slated to be directed by British director David Lean (American side) and beloved Japanese auteur Akira Kurosawa (Japanese side), but Lean pulled out early in production. Kurosawa continued on for a while, until he was told that the Japanese section had been shortened to 90 minutes (the script Kurosawa had written was four hours long). Despite this, Kurosawa did begin production, but was replaced after three weeks. His experiences with Tora! Tora! Tora! and the failure of his next film Dodesukaden led to his Creator Breakdown in 1971.


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