41 Hours of Terror: Eye on The Final War 「第三次世界大戦 四十一時間の恐怖」 circa November, 1960


Effects artisans put the finishing touches on their model of San Francisco’s famous Golden Gate Bridge in this behind-the-scenes still for Toei’s The Final War (「第三次世界大戦 四十一時間の恐怖」, World War III: 41 Hours of Terror), published in LIFE Magazine’s issue from November 28th, 1960 (available in full digitized form here). The model was summarily demolished – see below – for the film’s final act, along with comparable representatives from Tokyo and Moscow.

Unfortunately LIFE doesn’t really offer anything else of note beyond its pair of photographs, devoting only a paragraph of text to the production, which would arrive in the US by way of a dubbed television version some years later. It does refer to the film under an abbreviated version of its original title, however – 41 Hours of Terror (both the IMBD and Eirin film database insist upon lending it the English title World War III Breaks Out).

I’ve no idea why The Final War‘s producers settled on San Francisco and its iconic landmark as the only representative of the US to be destroyed on-screen – most others of its kind spend their ordinance budget leveling models of New York. The Golden Gate Bridge had been demolished by a ‘space torpedo’ in Toho’s big-budget Battle in Outer Space nary a year prior, and one wonders if that sequence might have provided some inspiration. Whatever the case, the behind-the-scenes still shows the model to be a gigantic affair, far larger than the in-film footage would ever indicate. The Final War was obviously no small affair for Toei, whose stature in the industry would only increase through the remainder of the ’60s.


Above: Production still of the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge. Below: The same moment, as near as can be found, seen from a slightly different angle in the film itself.