Midway is a 1976 war film directed by Jack Smight and produced by Walter Mirisch from a screenplay by Donald S. Sanford. The music score was by John Williams and the cinematography by Harry Stradling, Jr. The film features an international cast of superstars including Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Hal Holbrook, ToshirÅ Mifune, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, Robert Ito and Christina Kokubo, among others. The soundtrack used Sensurround to augment the physical sensation of engine noise, explosions, crashes and gunfire.
The film chronicles the Battle of Midway, a turning point in World War II in the Pacific. The Imperial Japanese Navy had been undefeated until that time and out-numbered the American naval forces by four to one. The film follows two threads, one centered around the Japanese chief strategist Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (played by Mifune), and the other around fictional characters, Captain Matt Garth (Heston), an American naval officer who is involved in various phases of the US planning and execution of the battle and Garth's son (also a pilot involved in the battle) is romantically involved with Haruko Sakura (Kokubo), an American-born daughter of Japanese immigrants, who has been interned with her parents. Garth calls in all of his favors with a long-time friend to investigate the charges against the Sakuras (apparently with success, as Haruko is free and at dockside when the injured younger Garth is carried off the ship at the end of the film) The film starts with the Doolittle raid, and so takes place before the Battle of the Coral Sea (which is only mentioned). It depicts the creation of a complicated battle plan. Unknown to the Japanese, American signals intelligence has broken the Japanese Naval encryption codes and know ahead of time that the ambush will take place at Midway Island. American Admiral Chester Nimitz (played by Fonda), plays a desperate gamble by sending his last remaining aircraft carriers to Midway before the Japanese to set up his own ambush. Successful in saving Midway, but at a heavy cost, Nimitz reflects that Yamamoto "had everything going for him", asking "were we better than the Japanese, or just luckier?"