The Final Countdown (1980)

PG | 104 mins | Science fiction | 1 August 1980

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HISTORY

According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, a working title for the film was The Last Countdown.
       The following acknowledgments are included in the end credits: “The producers are grateful to The Grumman Aerospace Corp. for their co-operation;” “The producers wish to express their grateful appreciation to: The Department of Defense, The Department of the Navy;” and “With special thanks to: Commander Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the officers and crew of the U.S.S. Nimitz, the officers and crew of carrier air wing 8.”
       Production notes stated that “Fighter Squadron Eighty-Four” (VF-84) aircrews handled most of the F-14A flying sequences. Pilot-operated cameras mounted to the F-14As captured filming done for the dogfight-flying sequences. The U.S.S. Nimitz, the nuclear aircraft carrier used in the filming of the movie, had the capacity to be “at sea for 13 years before coming in to refuel its nuclear reactors.”
       A United Artists press release found in AMPAS library files stated that Maurice Binder, credited with doing the film’s storm sequence special effects, used “exploding laser beams and vortexes” to design the electrical storm that transported the U.S.S. Nimitz back in time.
       A 30 Aug 1980 New Republic review found actor Kirk Douglas’ performance as the ship’s captain unconvincing and actor Martin Sheen’s performance lacking energy. The cleverness of the premise was lost due to predictable dialogue. A 1 Aug 1980 NYT review pointed out that the ship was “the principal character” in the film, which suffered from appearing as a “Navy recruiting film” with the feel of “a Twilight Zone episode.” The review also ... More Less

According to production notes found in AMPAS library files, a working title for the film was The Last Countdown.
       The following acknowledgments are included in the end credits: “The producers are grateful to The Grumman Aerospace Corp. for their co-operation;” “The producers wish to express their grateful appreciation to: The Department of Defense, The Department of the Navy;” and “With special thanks to: Commander Naval Air Force U.S. Atlantic Fleet, the officers and crew of the U.S.S. Nimitz, the officers and crew of carrier air wing 8.”
       Production notes stated that “Fighter Squadron Eighty-Four” (VF-84) aircrews handled most of the F-14A flying sequences. Pilot-operated cameras mounted to the F-14As captured filming done for the dogfight-flying sequences. The U.S.S. Nimitz, the nuclear aircraft carrier used in the filming of the movie, had the capacity to be “at sea for 13 years before coming in to refuel its nuclear reactors.”
       A United Artists press release found in AMPAS library files stated that Maurice Binder, credited with doing the film’s storm sequence special effects, used “exploding laser beams and vortexes” to design the electrical storm that transported the U.S.S. Nimitz back in time.
       A 30 Aug 1980 New Republic review found actor Kirk Douglas’ performance as the ship’s captain unconvincing and actor Martin Sheen’s performance lacking energy. The cleverness of the premise was lost due to predictable dialogue. A 1 Aug 1980 NYT review pointed out that the ship was “the principal character” in the film, which suffered from appearing as a “Navy recruiting film” with the feel of “a Twilight Zone episode.” The review also criticized the weak script and laughable special effects.
       A 11 Sep 1986 DV news item reported that the three production companies connected to the film agreed to pay the U.S. government $400,000 “for failing to reimburse the Navy for use of F-14 fighter planes.” The settlement meant closure of a civil lawsuit filed in a Norwalk, VA, U. S. District Court in 1985 against The Bryna Co., Morrison Finance Ltd. (formerly known as Film Finance Group Ltd.), Aspen Prods., producer Peter Vincent Douglas, and retired Navy Commander Emory Worth Brown Jr.
       In the complaint, Brown was responsible for falsely reporting that the planes had flown “32.5 hours” when, in reality, the total amounted to two hundred-hours. Douglas’ agreement with the Navy had been to pay “$4,125 per hour for flying sequences flown by Navy aircraft.” More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
11 Sep 1986.
---
Hollywood Reporter
18 Jul 1980
p. 3, 18.
Los Angeles Times
1 Aug 1980
p. 1.
New Republic
30 Aug 1980.
---
New York Times
1 Aug 1980
p. 10.
Variety
16 Jul 1980
p. 23.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
USS Nimitz crew actors:
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXTS
Richard R. St. Johns Presents
The Bryna Company's Production of
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
2d asst dir
Asst dir trainee
2d unit dir
2d unit dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Cam asst
Cam asst
Gaffer
Best boy
Key grip
Best boy
Still photog
2d unit dir of photog
2d unit dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
Prod illustrator
FILM EDITORS
Asst ed
Asst ed
Asst ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Prop master
Asst prop master
Const coord
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
Mus supv
Mus ed
Mus mixer
Mus rec at
SOUND
Spec sd eff
Sd eff ed
Sd eff ed
Sd mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
Re-rec mixer
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Spec eff
Time lapse spec eff
Storm seq
Opt ed
Opt tech
Laser eff
MAKEUP
Makeup supv and spec makeup des
Makeup artist
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Exec in charge of prod
Prod services
Post prod exec
Prod admin
Loc auditor
Prod coord
Asst prod coord
Secy to the prod
Prod secy
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Prod asst
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc coord
Loc asst
Loc asst
Transportation coord
Scr supv
Dial supv
Animal trainer
Unit pub
Dog fight Zeros
B25 camera plane
2d unit coord
Hawaiian prod services
Grumman tech adv
Grumman tech unit
Grumman tech unit
Grumman tech unit
U.S. Navy tech adv
Post prod facilities
STAND INS
Stunt coord
Stunt double
Stunt double
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col timer
DETAILS
Release Date:
1 August 1980
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles and New York openings: 1 August 1980
Copyright Claimant:
Polyc International, B. V.
Copyright Date:
28 August 1980
Copyright Number:
PA79164
Physical Properties:
Sound
Recorded in Dolby Stereo™
Color
Widescreen/ratio
Filmed in Panavision®
Prints
Prints by Technicolor®
Duration(in mins):
104
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
26018
SYNOPSIS

Systems analyst and efficiency expert Warren Lasky boards a military helicopter at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is transported to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, in the middle of the ocean, to begin his assignment. Capt. Matthew Yelland remarks that the ship’s journey is delayed two days because of Warren’s mysterious boss, Mr. Tideman, and now a storm is brewing. Warren wanders into the office of Cdr. Richard Owens and notices that the Commander is writing a historical account on the attack at Pearl Harbor. On the bridge, radio communications are garbled and Ofc. Black Cloud reports bizarre weather patterns. As the crew watches the electrical storm, a vortex of light accompanied by a deafening roar and bolts of lightning engulf the ship. After the storm, the crew regains consciousness, but radio communications are down. Suddenly, the radio signalman receives an outdated code he learned in training school but is no longer used. Yelland orders his men to be on full alert because the strange goings-on could mean a threat of war. Although the ship’s communications systems appear to be normal, only old Jack Benny radio broadcasts can be heard on them. On a yacht, Sen. Samuel Chapman and his political operative, Arthur, polish a speech for Sam’s nomination as Vice President of the United States and running mate of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Suddenly, two U.S.S. Nimitz fighter jets fly overhead, and Sam tells Laurel Scott, his assistant, to make inquiries to the military about the suspicious planes once they reach shore. On deck of the U.S.S. Nimitz, Yelland theorizes that someone from Warren’s office ... +


Systems analyst and efficiency expert Warren Lasky boards a military helicopter at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and is transported to the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Nimitz, in the middle of the ocean, to begin his assignment. Capt. Matthew Yelland remarks that the ship’s journey is delayed two days because of Warren’s mysterious boss, Mr. Tideman, and now a storm is brewing. Warren wanders into the office of Cdr. Richard Owens and notices that the Commander is writing a historical account on the attack at Pearl Harbor. On the bridge, radio communications are garbled and Ofc. Black Cloud reports bizarre weather patterns. As the crew watches the electrical storm, a vortex of light accompanied by a deafening roar and bolts of lightning engulf the ship. After the storm, the crew regains consciousness, but radio communications are down. Suddenly, the radio signalman receives an outdated code he learned in training school but is no longer used. Yelland orders his men to be on full alert because the strange goings-on could mean a threat of war. Although the ship’s communications systems appear to be normal, only old Jack Benny radio broadcasts can be heard on them. On a yacht, Sen. Samuel Chapman and his political operative, Arthur, polish a speech for Sam’s nomination as Vice President of the United States and running mate of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Suddenly, two U.S.S. Nimitz fighter jets fly overhead, and Sam tells Laurel Scott, his assistant, to make inquiries to the military about the suspicious planes once they reach shore. On deck of the U.S.S. Nimitz, Yelland theorizes that someone from Warren’s office is playing a joke, but Warren denies the accusation. Yellen is then called away to look at aerial reconnaissance photographs of Pearl Harbor. Cdr. Dan Thurman says the photos are fakes, but Yelland points out that an intact U.S.S. Arizona, is resting in the harbor before its destruction by the Japanese. Warren then is summoned to the bridge, where he advises Yelland to compare the new photographs with the historical images from Owens’ manuscript. When they compare the pre-WW II archival Smithsonian photographs with Yelland’s pictures, they see that the images are almost identical. Owens points out that Yelland’s shots show Pearl Harbor as it appeared on 6 Dec 1941, but it hasn’t looked that way in forty years. Soon, some of Yelland’s fighter planes radio that they’ve seen mint condition WW II Japanese Zero planes flying in the sky. Yelland orders his pilots to watch them. Although the captain thinks the vintage planes are somebody’s idea of a joke, Warren poses that the ship has traveled back in time. However, Yelland doesn’t believe him. On the yacht, Sam, Laurel and Arthur spot the Japanese fighter planes, which circle around and shoot at the craft, killing Arthur as the others jump into the ocean. The Zeros blow up the yacht and return to kill the other passengers, but Sam, Laurel, and her dog survive after submerging underwater while the captain dies. Afterward, Yelland’s pilots blow the Zeros out of sky. Meanwhile, as planes from Yelland’s fighter squad find the rest of the Japanese fleet waiting to attack, Yelland’s crew rescues the passengers and Laurel’s dog from the water. Recognizing the senator, Owens realizes that time has shifted into the past. As a Japanese pilot is taken prisoner, Yelland and his officers debate getting involved and changing the course of history. Foremost, Yelland argues that it is their job to defend the U.S. from attack. However, Warren reads through Owens’ manuscript and discovers that they have already changed history by rescuing the senator. Soon, Laurel’s dog causes a disturbance, and the Japanese pilot grabs a guard’s rifle and kills him. As the Japanese pilot takes Laurel hostage, crew member Lt. Kajima translates that the pilot wants a radio. When Yelland orders Owens to reveal the attack plan for Pearl Harbor, the Japanese pilot lowers his gun in disbelief, and is shot dead by crew members. Meanwhile, Sam wonders how Owens knows classified information and insists that they radio the base. However, the radio operator accuses Sam of being an imposter because the military has no air carrier U.S.S. Nimitz commanded by Yelland on record. Frustrated, Sam demands to be flown to Pearl Harbor. Yelland agrees, but Warren reminds him that he’s tampering with history. Yelland replies he wants civilians off the ship if war breaks out, and is less concerned with historical details. Yelland orders Owens to take Laurel and Sam to a less strategic island where they will be safe from attack, then broadcasts a message to his crew, explaining their strange predicament and alerting them to prepare for the attack on Pearl Harbor. Sam is angry when he sees that he and Laurel are not being escorted to Pearl Harbor, so he hijacks the helicopter with a flare gun, demanding that the pilot fly him alone to the base. As the helicopter takes off, Owens tries to climb on board to stop Sam, but he falls into the ocean. As a crew member wrestles the flare gun away from Sam, the gun fires and the helicopter explodes. Meanwhile, Yelland orders a squad of planes to head off the Japanese fleet. On the beach, Laurel and Owens see a formation of Zeros heading toward Pearl Harbor. The U.S.S. Nimitz crew watches a new vortex forming, similar to the storm that sent them back in time. The new storm forces Yelland to abort the mission to save his men. A deafening roar passes over the ship. Soon, the fighter planes return intact and the ship returns to the present day. Warren leaves the ship to where a limousine is waiting with his mysterious boss, Mr. Tideman, inside. When the window lowers, he sees Tideman is an older Owens, along with his wife, the former Laurel Scott. Warren gets in the limo with his employers, who want to explain the past forty years, as they all ride off together. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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