Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on June 27, 1976 · Page 97
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June 27, 1976

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 97

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, June 27, 1976
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Page 97
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'Midway' fails to stir emotions By James F. Dent "MIDWAY," Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda. Virginian. * * 1/2 Several years ago, Hollywood gave us Tora, Tora, Tora, a lumbering account of the Japanese at- \jpji on Pearl Harbor. It was a bigger bomb at the box office than anything dropped on Dec. 7,1941. Now we have Midway . it might be Subtitled Son of Tora, Tora, Tora since it adopts the same weary expository style as that film but, to judge by the crowds I've seen around the theater where it's playing, it's a money making smash. A friend of mine suggests that it succeeds -- in a box office sense -where Tora, Tora, Tora failed because Midway is about an American victory. "Nobody wants to pay money to see us get clobbered to dKii," he says and he's probably right. The battle of Midway in June of 1942 was the turning point of the war in the Pacific. The heavily outnumbered United States Navy stopped the up until then unstoppable Japanese advance and badly crippled the awesome Japanese fleet. The battle also was significant in the history of war at sea since it was the first time that two fleets fought to the death out of sight of each other's ships. The attacks were carried out by carrier based airplanes. The story of the battle is an exciting and stirring one and several excellent books "have been written about it. John Ford made an excellent wartime short documentary film about Midway. So why, then, isn't this a better movie? For one thing, the producers have felt compelled to tack en a silly and altogether needless piece of fiction involving Charlton Heston as the Navy captain father of Edward Albert, a young Naval pilot, who has fallen in love with a Japanese-American girl. This hoary gimmick adds absolutely nothing to the film. For another, the cast is rfde up almost entirely of what are called "cameo" parts - well known actors taking bit roles. James Coburn, for example, who gets third billing right after Henry Fonda is on screen so briefly that if you turn your head at the wrong moment, you'll miss him entirely. As is usual when this kind of casting is done, the actors don't really feel impelled to act. They just walk through their parts to be recognized. To be fair to the actors, the writers of the script certainly haven't given them any lines to be proud of saying. Most of the dialouge cons- istsof statements like, "We've just fJiived a message from the fleet, Film Review Admiral." Then the Admiral reads the message and tells the audience what it says. Like Tora, Tora, Tora, Midway cuts back and forth from the U.S. war rooms and battle stations to those of the Japanese and there are identification lines printed across the screen almost constantly to keep the audience informed of just who it is they're looking at. A fine Japanese actor, Toshiro Mifune, is given the task of impersonating Admiral Yamamoto and I don't believe it is entirely his f a u l t that throughout the picture he looks like a man who is badly constipated. His performance isn't helped by a dubbed English voice that disconcertingly doesn't quite match his appearance. The attack scenes are exciting, if confusing, although it's obvious that the producers cheated a bit. Either that or they figured that one ship blowing up looks like any other ship blowing up. Anyway, in at least a couple of instances the same, exact scenes are shown when the Americans bomb the Japanese carriers and when the Japanese bomb the American carriers. About the only actors who infuse their parts with anything more than a superficial reading are Fonda, as Adm. Chester Nimitz, Glenn Ford as Adm. Spruance and Hal Holbrook as Comdr. Joseph Rochefort, the Naval cryptographer who broke the Japanese codes and figured out just where their invasion fleet was heading. Holbrook is very good but I wish he hadn't used his Abraham Lincoln voice. I kept expecting him to break into the Gettysburg Address at any moment. Midway is filmed in the Sensur- round process which you will remember from Earthquake but it didn't really seem to do anything as far as I could tell except raise the noise level in the battle scenes. I will admit however that because there was a big crowd, I had to sit about six rows from the front and it is entirely possible that in that location I didn't get the full effect of the process. If you have a couple of hours or so on your hands, seeing Midway won't hurt you. But it won't do you much good either. It's curiously unemotional for a film that should stir the patriotic juices. Of course, I judge every World War II film in comparison with Patton and that may be a mistake since Patton was in a class all by itself. Jimmy Henderson .and the Glenn Miller Orchestra will perform at the Bicentennial Costume Colonial Ball. 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday, July 2 at the Civic Center grand arena. Tickets may be purchased at the Civic Center or Londeree's. VIRGINIAN 70S Lee Street/343-1125 NOW! SEE AT 2:30,4:50,7:30,10:00 OWENS DRIVE IN * ADULT * Movies--Mogazines--Novelties also FILM RENTALS Movies--Magazines--Novelties CAPITAL NEWS BOOK MART 1588AWash.St.E. 342-9435 Open 10 AM. Till 11 P.M. Daily 1 P.M. to 9 P.M. Sunday CHARLTON HESTON-HENRY FONDA ENKM.LID THE WORLD WIDE TEXAS TOUR IN ASSOCIATION WITH WKAZ WEDNESDAY JU!SE308P.M. TICKETS ON SALE NOW FESTIVAL SEATING SA.OO LIMITED ADVANCE SEATING PIUS OUTIET SERVICE CHARGE CIVIC CENTER BOX OFFICE AND ALL ENTAM TICKETS OUTLETS ORDKRBV.MAIL.NOW. 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TICKETS ON SALE NOW fESIIVALSEATNG 5s OOIIMITEDAOVANCE PlUSOmETSERVlCECHARGE CIVIC CENTER BOX 'OFFICE AND ALL ENTAM TICKET OUTLETS , O K D K K K\ . M A I I . ) \ \ Klf- COENTAW.1TC REYNOOSSTREET CHARLESTON V V V A 25301 · CAll3e.80?OFt»INFC»MATIOt. CHARLESTON CIVIC CENTER 20m CHARLESTON. W.VA. -Junf'27. 1976. S (!risi'tt'-Mnil

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