Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo Review

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Fresh after the shock bombing of Pearl Harbour, the Americans plan their attack. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle devises a top secret attack (so secret the pilots don't know the plan until late on) on the Japanese, using bombers taking off from aircraft carriers.


Mervyn Le Roy's look at the build-up to America's post Pearl Harbour retaliatory attack on Japan is meticulously detailed, if a touch meandering and overlong. Spencer Tracy does the extended cameo thing as Lt. Col. James Dolittle, secretly plotting the fight back, while Van Johnson and Robert Walker head up the fliers, training for the mission they know nothing about. A young, but nonetheless butt smokingly cynical Robert Mitchum is also amongst the crew. The film builds convincingly, its flag waving kept in check by the gravity of the events that slowly unfold, alongside some primitively effective cockpit bound effects.

The film is a little too long, but makes up for it with a strong cast and enthralling action.