Few things in the realm of movie geekdom irk me like people who simply regurgitate what they've heard without including their own insights. This happens a lot with "legendary" bad movies like Ishtar (not that bad), Howard the Duck (pretty damn bad), and (most irritatingly) Steven Spileberg's 1941. One hears of a film's alleged reputation, and then their experience with the film is tainted with the knowledge that "I shouldn't like this movie." And man is that a screwed up way to watch a film.
Over the years I've written adamant defenses of films like Popeye, Friday the 13th, and Flash Gordon (sue me, I like 1980), but I don't love those flicks like I adore Spielberg's 1941. Yep, I said "adore." And yet, Mr. Spielberg seems to think so little of the film (and his experience making it), that he's never once gone back to full-bore comedy. Odd. Released in mid-December of 1979, which put it up against movies like Being There, Kramer vs. Kramer, Star Trek: The Motion Picture ... you know, Oscar bait movies ... the movie did solid if unspectacular business, which means it was to be forever labeled as a "bomb." Just because it didn't do as well as Jaws or Close Encounters of the Third Kind*.
A virtually plotless collection of colorfully chaotic episodes that occur on one fateful night in Hollywood, 1941 poses the question of what would happen, farce-wise, if a Japanese submarine wandered into California waters. Virtually plotless, like I said, but I don't think a traditional three-act structure and a series of firm character arcs are what screenwriters Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis were going for. The 1941 I look at feels like an ever-escalating series of outrageous action scenes, populated by amusing caricatures, and brought to life with clever editing and some pretty stellar special effects.