Potato Harbor

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It'll be six months and a day until you can see "The Longest Day" on TV (and don't miss it). But in the dead of winter, the misfortunes of war must move to warmer climes. Just ask Napoleon. And Sunday, somewhere amid the football, is Pearl Harbor Day.

This one could run on the History Channel: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970). A balanced, almost documentary view of winter 1941, including the very distinct possibility that FDR and his top brass knew about it ahead of time. On the American side, Martin Balsam, Jason Robards and Joseph Cotten as Secretary of State Stimson, and S Yamamura and Tatsuya Mihashi manning the aerial battering ram. A full complement of directors, one American and two Japanese, make this a true learner for those whose schoolbook days are mercifully over.

On the other hand, learning's for suckers, and comedy's for kings. 1941 billed itself in 1979 as "A Comedy Spectacular," and it is: big, garrulous, messy, and often (but alas, not always) hilarious. A cast-of-thousands stacked with comedy veterans, from Aykroyd to Belushi to Candy to Slim Pickens to Tim Matheson to . . . to everybody, even Patti LuPone and an uncredited Penny Marshall. Not for the high-falutin, but that scene with the door . . . whooeee!

You'll have to wait a week for From Here to Eternity. (The 12th is Sinatra's birthday.) But if the sight of nation against nation leaves you cold, get topical with The Basketball Diaries (1995). It's said to have instructed that loon in Kentucky exactly how to shoot a bunch of your classmates. But high-schoolers, please: use rubber bullets. Happy viewing.