THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO (1944) B/W 138m dir: Mervyn LeRoy

w/Spencer Tracy, Van Johnson, Robert Walker, Phyllis Thaxter, Tim Murdock, Scott McKay, Gordon McDonald, Don DeFore, Robert Mitchum, John R. Reilly

From The Movie Guide: "In 1942, 131 days after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, an American force retaliated, bombing the major Japanese cities of Tokyo and Yokohama. This picture, a quasi-documentary re-creation of that event, was authored by one of the survivors of the raid, Ted Lawson (played here by Van Johnson). Since landing bases near the target are unavailable --- and in-flight refueling techniques undeveloped --- a dangerous, untried tactic must be employed for the top-secret mission: for the first time in history, twin-engine bombers are to take off from the deck of an aircraft carrier. Because the planes are too large to land on a carrier deck, after the attack they must continue on to mainland China --- occupied by the Japanese --- and then make their way to Allied-held territory as best they can. Weeks of preparation and training take place before the aircraft and their crews are finally loaded aboard the USS Hornet. Following a final shipboard briefing by mission leader Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle (Spencer Tracy), the fliers man their twin-engine Mitchell bombers and are catapulted from the flight deck. The remainder of the film follows the adventures of Lawson's crew only. A well-made war film, THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO was sufficiently accurate to prompt all the real-life principals to approve the use of their names in the picture. Screenwriter Dalton Trumbo wisely elected not to attempt to alter the limited perspective of Lawson's memoir by including more of the details of the famous raid. In the actual event, all 16 participating bombers made it to China, although three men died in crashes and eleven others were captured by the Japanese, who executed three of them. Although top-billed, Tracy's appearance here is basically a cameo, with Johnson the real star of the film."

THIRTY SECONDS OVER TOKYO won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects (A. Arnold Gillespie, Donald Jahraus, Warren Newcombe, Douglas Shearer) and was also nominated for Best Cinematography (Robert Surtees, Harold Rosson).