Midway - Midway(Blu Ray) [Powerhouse - 2021]
Midway aka The Battle of Midway (1976) is a classic slice of World War II action, with an all star cast list, directed by Jack Smight (Airport 1975, Damnation Alley and Fast Break). The film presents the events of the battle of Midway, which was seen as a turning point for the Americans during WWII as their forces decimated an attacking Japanese fleet, significantly weakening their forces.
This disc features both versions of the film, firstly there is the theatrical cut that runs at 132 minutes and also the TV version that was originally screened across two nights (5th and 6th January 1978). Powerhouse has kept the TV version split into two parts, the first running at 101 minutes and the second running at 92 minutes, a total of 193 minutes. This TV version is also reframed to 4:3 and the soundtrack is mono, exactly as it was presented at the time. This version also excises some mild curse words, however, it is worth a look for the extra sequences particularly the entire section devoted to the Battle of the Coral Sea.
I briefly touched upon the all-star cast in the opening paragraph, but it features some very big hitters, Charlton Heston (Planet of the Apes, Ben Hur and Soylent Green) stars as Capt. Matt Garth, while Henry Fonda (12 Angry Men, The Grapes of Wrath and The Wrong Man) takes on the role of Admiral Chester Nimitz, Glenn Ford (Superman, The Big Heat and Gilda) is Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance. They are joined by James Coburn (Charade, The Great Escape and The Magnificent Seven) as Captain Vinton Maddox, Hal Holbrook (Creepshow, All the President’s Men and Lincoln) as Commander Joseph Rochefort, Toshiró Mifune (Yojimbo, Seven Samurai and Throne of Blood) is Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear, The Night of the Hunter and The Longest Day) is Admiral William Halsey, Cliff Robertson (Sam Raimi’s Spiderman trilogy and Escape from LA) is Commander Carl Jessop, and finally Robert Wagner (The Towering Inferno and The Austin Powers trilogy) takes on the role of Lieutenant Commander Ernest Blake. Each of those mentioned here are leading men in their own right, so bringing them all together in one epic film is an impressive feat. It’s also worth pointing out for horror fans like myself that the ever-brilliant Christopher George (The Exterminator, City of the Living Dead and Pieces) turns up as Lieutenant Commander C. Wade McClusky.
The film itself is less spectacular than its cast. It’s a solid retelling of the story of the battle of Midway, however, with such a strong cast you would hope for more. Shot in 1976, this is one of the last of the big Hollywood ensemble cast war films that had been the norm throughout the 1950s and 60s. Don’t get me wrong it’s not a bad film, far from it, it’s actually quite good, I would just hope for something a little bit special from a movie with such an outstanding cast of stars. The action sequences are big and bold as one would expect from such a Hollywood epic. One of my great disappointments about the film is the sparing use of Mitchum, who is on fine form as Admiral William Halsey
Powerhouse films have remastered the film in a great new high definition print and the limited edition disc comes fully loaded with a host of bonus features including an audio commentary with film historians Steve Mitchell and Steven Jay Rubin, interview footage of Robert Wagner, documentaries on the making of the film and the battle itself, particularly of interest is John Ford’s excellent, award-winning 1942 documentary, The Battle of Midway. Overall this is a great package for what is a solid old Hollywood action film. Darren Charles