FF100 - Tora! Tora! Tora!

Intro by John Roderick

We have beaten the odds! This is our 100th show! When you think about it, we should probably wait to celebrate until our 104th show because that would be the full two years, but with the handicap of our bleak and off-putting premise and our weird production schedule plus the unlikeability of at least two of the hosts and the near-total failure of our un-corporate masters to sell even a handful of advertisements on our show we need to celebrate now, in case the whole thing explodes like a series of inexplicable oil-drums in a Rambo movie, and we share this anniversary with another day that will also live in infamy, known to many of you as granddad's 9/11: Pearl Harbor!

So, just like the reluctant Yamamotos that we are we went against our own code-of-honor, risking our home islands for a Pyrrhic Victory, and handpicked this week's movie. Last year we punished ourselves by hate-watching the Michael Bay barffest and soft-core Melrose Place-abomination Pearl Harbor, a World War II movie predicated on the audience never having heard of World War II. This year, in order to keep Adam from celebrating December 7th by watching Rocky IV, I put my hand on the scales and we bring to you one of the dadest of all dad-war-movies: Tora! Tora! Tora!

These days, even the simplest-to-explain geopolitical event is attributed by the 50 million lazy-boy-pundits who dicksplain politics to each other online to the behind-the-scenes machinations of the soul-dead capitalist overlords and immoral Swiss bankers and Bunny-marrying Texas oil-barons and jackbooted Illuminati-police-staters, working on behalf of the unnamed shadowy forces that are maybe Masons, maybe Jews, that wield the bony-fingered hand of whatever made-up sinister global superstructure these increasingly mainstreamed pinheads prefer to substitute for the depressing-to-admit combination of chance, incompetence, and shortsighted avarice that really govern most human affairs.

But in 1970 when this film was made, even in spite of the ongoing slide into disillusionment, prompted by the FUBAR Cold War proxy and colonial misadventure in Vietnam, most American moviegoers still believed that the USA did the right thing, told the truth, had a collective sense of honor, was the moral compass of the world, and - crucially - never screwed the pooch! So Tora! Tora! Tora! was a different beast, an extremely even-handed portrayal of both the clumsy misjudgment of the American command-structure and the overreaching strategery of the Japanese military that together produced this world-altering sneak-attack.

Even more than the shocker of US ineptitude must have been the intimate and sympathetic half of the movie we spent with the Japanese inside their navy culture, watching their anxiety convert first to a massive triumph that then disappears in storm-clouds of a foreshadowed cataclysm. In fact: Two Japanese directors, Kinji Fukasaku and Toshio Masuda, are co-credited alongside Richard Fleischer, deftly hemming their side of the both-sides of this film. It still packs a wallop!

It is not a perfect movie, as we will see, even though in 1970 they still had enough old vintage airplanes and other hardware that they could just fling it around like Pete Townshend smashing 1964 SG Juniors like they grew on trees, but it is innovative, it is precedent-establishing, and a respected classic. It is also our 100th film. "You want a confirmation, Captain? Take a look! There is your confirmation!" Today on Friendly Fire: Tora! Tora! Tora!

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