The Final Countdown

August 1st, 1980


The Final Countdown

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A modern aircraft carrier is thrown back in time to 1941 near Hawaii, just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

Release Year: 1980

Rating: 6.6/10 (8,737 voted)

Director: Don Taylor

Stars: Kirk Douglas, Martin Sheen, Katharine Ross

An American nuclear aircraft carrier and its crew are caught in a classic dilemma when a supernatural storm sends them back in time just before the Japanese assault on Pearl Harbor.

Writers: Thomas Hunter, Peter Powell

Kirk Douglas - Capt. Matthew Yelland
Martin Sheen - Warren Lasky
Katharine Ross - Laurel Scott
James Farentino - Wing Commander Richard T. Owens / Richard Tideman
Ron O'Neal - Cmdr. Dan Thurman
Charles Durning - Sen. Samuel Chapman
Victor Mohica - Black Cloud
James Coleman - Lt. Perry (as James C. Lawrence)
Soon-Tek Oh - Simura (as Soon-Teck Oh)
Joe Lowry - Cmdr. Damon
Alvin Ing - Lt. Kajima
Mark Thomas - Marine Cpl. Kullman
Harold Bergman - Bellman
Dan Fitzgerald - Navy Doctor
Lloyd Kaufman - Lt. Cmdr. Kaufman

Taglines: Nothing in the world can prepare you for ...

Release Date: 1 August 1980

Filming Locations: Naval Air Station, Key West, Florida Keys, Florida, USA

Gross: SEK 2,722,598 (Sweden)

Technical Specs


Did You Know?

During shooting of the opening shot where the CAG's Tomcat is taking off from Pearl Harbor, the film crew actually underestimated the blast radius of the Tomcat's exhaust and one of their cameras was blown over when the plane went to full afterburner, which resulted in the shot being filmed from a slightly different angle than originally planned.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: When Commander Owen climbs out of his aircraft after landing on the carrier near the beginning of the movie, the sleeves of his flight suit are rolled up. While this technically violates Navy regulations, which state that sleeves must be down during takeoff and landing, aviators commonly push their sleeves up to keep their arms cool.

[first lines]
F-14 Pilot: [voice over radio] Pearl Tower, Tomcat two-zero-zero. requesting clearance for departure runway zero-nine. Over.
Pearl Harbor Tower: [voice over radio] Two-zero-zero, Pearl Harbor Tower. You are cleared runway oh-niner. Winds zero-four-five at eight. SH-three approaching from the right. Have a nice day.

User Review

A Guilty Pleasure


There are great films ("Citizen Kane," eg), and there are "big films", like "ET" or "Star Wars." Then there are absolute crap films (eg, WAY too-many to list!). I propose another legitimate category: "Guilty Pleasure Films." These are movies that one can see over and over, through countless repetitions on cable and broadcast channels, and enjoy the experience every time.

For example, I have probably seen "Brighton Beach Memoirs" 40 times. I loved it during its first run, and I've loved it each of the 39 times I've seen it on the small screen. No, it's not a great movie, but it's one that brings me pleasure when I watch it. Same with (blush) "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure": the movie's stupid, but it just always entertains me!

Similarly, nobody is going to compare "The Final Countdown" to "2001: A Space Odyssey" as far as absolute quality, but "The Final Countdown" is a classic example of an unabashed "guilty pleasure" movie.

The story is intriguing--what would YOU do if you were commanding a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier full of supersonic jets, etc, when you were transferred through a time-warp (ref: a CHEESY looking laser and smoke effect storm!) to December 6, 1941?? Would you alter history, just to win a battle against those attacking Pearl Harbor? Or would you hold back because you'd change history if you did anything?

Interesting point! Kirk Douglas, as the ship's captain, looks like he's having a ball acting in this, and Martin Sheen does a great job as the "civilian consultant," Mr. Laskey.

No, this movie isn't an Oscar-winner, nor did it really deserve to be. But I'll put it this way. A local independant station showed "The Final Countdown" tonight at the same time TNN was showing "The Godfather 2" uncut.

I spent maybe five minutes on the Oscar-winning Godfather 2. Yes, it is an empirically great film, but I've seen it once before. But with American fighter jets dogfighting 1941 Japanese Zeros, I was FAR more entertained watching "The Final Countdown" for the 10th time!


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