We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
"Tora! Tora! Tora!" is one of the deadest, dullest blockbusters ever made. The very word "blockbuster" may be too lusty to describe it; maybe "blocktickler" is more like it for this timid epic. The subject is grand enough, but the screenplay mostly concerns itself with clerks, secretaries, teletype operators and government functionaries.
The task of the actors is to stand around reciting verbatim quotations from military histories at each other; we can almost see the screenwriters lurking behind those badly painted backdrops, trading three-by-five file cards like high school seniors. If you get the quotes and the footnotes right, you get an "A" no matter what you say. Right?
This is a big, incredibly expensive movie, and yet the final effect of its 25 millions is claustrophobic. We want to escape from all those offices, and all those bureaucrats misreading cablegrams at each other, and get back to the open terrain of a good old grade "B" war movie. John Wayne's World War II flicks may not have been masterpieces, but at least they had sand and sky in them, and heroes, and girls.
The old Hollywood moguls used to hate "message" movies. "When I want to send a message," David Selznick used to say, "I use Western Union." Selznick, presented with the script of "Tora! etc." and the information that $25 million was to be spent on it, would have had apoplexy. Here's a movie that doesn't even send the message; it's only about Western Union.