There’s one scene in Steven Spielberg‘s 1941 that I’ve always half-enjoyed, even though it’s technically ridiculous. I’m speaking of the moment in which the spoke hinges of a Pacific Ocean Park ferris wheel are blown off by Japanese guns, and the wheel — carrying Murray Hamilton, Eddie Deezen and some kind of demonic puppet — rolls off the pier and into the Pacific Ocean.
The error, of course, is that the ocean is never very deep at the end of an amusement park pier, and so the wheel couldn’t sink straight down. The wheel should’ve hit bottom and then flopped over sideways. Then it would’ve been fine.
Stanley Kubrick to Spielberg on the set of The Shining: “1941 was one of the best shot and most beautifully choreographed films I’ve ever seen. It’s not funny but it’s technically brilliant.”
Wiki excerpt: “Spielberg regretted not ceding control of 1941‘s action and miniature sequences (such as the ferris wheel collapse in the film’s finale) to second unit directors and model units, something which he would do in his next film, Raiders of the Lost Ark. ‘Some people think that was an out-of-control production, but it wasn’t,’ he said. ‘What happened on the screen was pretty out of control, but the production was pretty much in control. I don’t dislike the movie at all. I’m not embarrassed by it. I just think that it wasn’t funny enough.”
16 months ago (3.16.19) I posted exactly the same opinion: “Remember Stanley Kubrick‘s famous assessment of 1941, which he personally conveyed to Steven Spielberg? I can’t find the exact quote but the gist was ‘the filmmaking chops are brilliant…it’s not funny but it’s really well made.’ Well, the famous ferris-wheel-rolling-off-the-pier scene disproves even that. There’s no way the ocean is deep enough for a 100-foot-tall ferris wheel to completely disappear — to just sink into the depths like the Titanic. Right off Pacific Ocean Park the ocean depth would be…what, 30 or 40 feet? If that? All Spielberg had to do was show the ferris wheel hitting bottom and then tipping over to the side.”