The author of the Naval Institute Press book, Sailing on the Silver Screen, went to Hollywood and files this report on the new Pearl Harbor movie.
Why Pearl Harbor? Hollywood has been there, done that, several times. Air Force in 1943, From Here to Eternity in 1953, In Harm's Way in 1965, and Tora! Tora! Tora! in 1970, all portrayed the Japanese attack on 7 December 1941. In addition, John Ford made a documentary about Pearl Harbor, albeit one that recreated the action so well that later filmmakers used some of the scenes as if they represented the real thing. In fact, Tora! Tora! Tora! presented an objective, accurate account of the attack from both sides, even if Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto never said that the attack would only "awake a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve." In their quest for accuracy, however, the filmmakers forgot Hollywood's cardinal rule: movies are meant to entertain and so earn money. Consequently, despite the value of Tora! Tora! Tora! as history, its characters remained two-dimensional cardboard figures, and the film failed to attract audiences.