Alejandra Vernon | Long Beach, California | 07/01/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Those that are interested in General Douglas MacArthur, and admire his qualities of courage and fortitude, will find this film fascinating; it is beautifully filmed, with marvelous re-creations of the mid 20th century, and the battle scenes are very well done.
The speeches alone are a glory to listen to, full of passion for "duty, honor, and country", and the words are so exquisitely crafted they are like the finest prose.
The film starts and ends in MacArthur's beloved West Point, on a blustery day, as he speaks to the cadets, and is among the many memorable scenes; others are the landing on Layte, and the signing of Japan's surrender, on the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, which is a fabulous re-staging of the historic event. Gregory Peck gives a monumental portrayal of MacArthur; it is nuanced and brilliant, and from the old film clips I have seen of General MacArthur, subtly captures his posture and movement, with his many different pipes. This film is one of Peck's best, and it's sad it did not have more critical acclaim, as I feel it certainly deserved it.
Other terrific performances come from Marj Dusay as his wife Jean, Sandy Kenyon as General Jonathan Wainwright, and Ed Flanders as President Truman is quite exceptional; tough, gritty, and angered by MacArthur.An excellent score by Jerry Goldsmith and cinematography by Mario Tosi complements the well-paced direction by Joseph Sargent. If it has a flaw, I feel the film makes too much of the publicity loving aspect of MacArthur's personality. Yes, he liked to use the media to his advantage, and most people who make history feel the same way no doubt...otherwise it is a fairly balanced depiction of one of the great men of the 20th century.It is interesting to speculate what would have happened had General MacArthur been able to do what he thought was right, and not the "capitulation" and "immoral compromise with evil" he felt he was forced to accept. Perhaps over time millions of lives would have been saved, but I'm sure many would argue otherwise.
Total running time 130 minutes.
"A soldier above all other people, prays for peace, for he must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war"."
Great Gregory Peck Perfomance Is Crippled By Poor Screenplay
C. Hutton | East Coast, USA | 08/22/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1977 film of MacArthur is worth watching for the towering performance of Gregory Peck as General Douglas MacArthur. Peck considered this one of his favorite roles and fought with the producers over the screenplay and editing of the film -- and fought he should have because those very flaws kept this movie from being a great film.
MacArthur lead a long, dramatic and heroic life during World War I, World War II and the Korean War. As a vain and brilliant military genius who believed in his own destiny, the movie focuses on the decade 1942-1952. The film feels like MacArthur's greatest hits: the set pieces of Bataan, "I shall return", his rulership of Japan, the Inchon landing in Korea, "The Old Soldier" speech before Congress and so forth WITHOUT pulling the various scenes together into a coherent whole. According to Peck, the original three hour version fleshed out MacArthur more before it was edited down to the 130 minute commerial version.
Without prior knowledge of MacArthur's life, the movie would be confusing and lacking in the richness that was MacArthur's life. As one example, the various military situations are dealt with superfical, briefly and often without maps, so that one does not see the strategic brilliance of his Pacific campaigns. I highly recommend reading William Manchester's "MacArthur" before seeing the film.
Should you see the movie? Yes, even a MacArthur at half speed is more interesting than most movies and Gregory Peck IS MacArthur. He was passed over for an Oscar nomination although that was interpreted at the time as more of a comment on the film itself than upon his acting. It is worth seeing for Peck's performance in and of itself."
Gregory Peck tries to make sense of Douglas MacArthur
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 12/05/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)
"The 1977 film "MacArthur" is well aware that there were two sides to the controversial military leader Douglas MacArthur, and you can almost see the makers of this film flipping a coin to decide which side Gregory Peck gets to show in the next scene. On the one hand there was the brilliant military strategist and leader who directed Allied forces in the Pacific against the Japanese in World War II and for the first half of the Koran War. On the other hand that was the vain and egotistical man who selected official photographs with as much care as he plained invasions and attacks. Most of the credit in this film goes to Peck's performance in making these two diverse sides fit together for the most part.The contrast between the two is probably best captured in two scenes involving Major General Jonathan M. Wainwright (Sandy Kenyon), who was left behind in command of the Philippines when FDR ordered MacArthur to get to safety in Australia. Even though he promises MacArthur he "will be here or I'll be dead," Wainwright is ultimately forced to surrender and MacArthur goes off the deep end, insisting that Wainwright has gone insane and heaping invective on the man's name. Later in the film, on the day the Japanese signed the articles of surrender on the U.S.S. "Missouri," Wainwright arrives, a gaunt figure after years of captivity in a Japanese prison. MacArthur embraces Wainwright warmly, brushing away all apologies and assuring the man he can have his Corps back as soon as he says the word. MacArthur remains the same man, unconcerned by the obvious contradictions of his nature.Director Joseph Sargent frames this biopic with MacArthur's famous speech to the cadets of West Point, where he extols the virtues of "Duty," "Honor," "Country." Beyond a brief look back at his early life and military career, the story of the film begins with the general and his besieged forces in the Philippines. But throughout the film we are supposed to hear those words "Duty," "Honor," "Country" resonating. MacArthur is forced to leave the Philippines, but he vows to return, and he does. The UN forces are almost forced off the Korean peninsula, but MacArthur retakes it all before the Chinese get involved. MacArthur is able to force FDR to go with his plans, but finds Harry Truman unwilling to go along, thereby ending a distinguished military career of over half-a-century.Which sides comes out ahead? The ways Sargent tries to balance the two sides gets pretty interesting. Both Roosevelt (Dan O'Herlihy) and Truman (Ed Flanders) have their pokes at MacArthur, while it is a pair of his Japanese adversaries who speak to his military ability (scenes that are reminiscent of the Germans doing the same thing in "Patton"). The Presidents give the general credit for his military endeavors, but those accolades are buried beneath the verbal ripostes; on the political side the rebuttal comes from actual film footage of Republican Senators (e.g., Nixon of California) supporting MacArthur and blasting Truman. Even stranger, MacArthur's aides are forced to play it both ways. On the one hand they are doing everything they can for the general's public relations, but then there are also times when they basically roll their eyes at what is coming out of MacArthur's mouth. In the end, MacArthur is not only redeemed by Peck's performance, but by having the final two scenes of the film be the famous pair of speeches MacArthur delivered when he returned to the United States. The first was the "The Old Soldiers" speech given to the Joint Session of Congress and the other the speech to the cadets. When you have a character who has been saying some pretty stupid things from time to time throughout the film and then allow him to reach such flights of oratorical elegance, it is hard not to end on his side of the ledger. "MacArthur" is not enough to allow anyone to make a reasoned judgment on the man and his career, but it should be enough to inspire those who are interested to go read some books that can provide you better evidence for really making up your mind."
"Duty, Honor, and Country..."
Priscilla Stafford | Yokohama, Japan | 10/15/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The movie "MacArthur", played by the great Gregory Peck, mainly takes place between the years 1942 through 1952, from MacArthur as a four star general to when he `retires' in the wake of Eisenhower's presidency. The movie takes you through MacArthur's historic events: leaving Corregidor, arriving in Australia saying those never to be forgotten words 'I shall return', island hopping back to the Philippines, on through the Korean War, then ultimately his retirement.
I cannot express in words how wonderful Peck's portrayal of MacArthur was. He WAS Douglas MacArthur in every sense of the man. He played the part of the historic figure perfectly; where he was beloved by people, yet at times could be so agressive, straightforward, and outspoken that he made people clench their teeth in annoyance of that man (how do you think he got the nickname, 'American Caesar'?). A truly gifted actor, Greogry Peck will forever fill my memories of 'THE actor who played one of the greatest men of all time.'
Setting aside Peck's performance, a few other honorable mentions are Marj Dusay as MacArthur's wife and Ed Flanders respectfully as Harry S. Truman. Dusay had few lines but instead, through her quiet courage and determination in standing by her husband's side shows indeed the importance she played as the faithful wife. Ed Flanders deserves much applause for his role as President Truman with a splendid performance as one of the many men who, though he hates MacArthur's guts, can't help admiring his military genius.
In the historical point of view, I felt that "MacArthur" was fairly accurate, especially the depictions of the Korean "Conflict" (War). It portrayed just how much of a 'political' war it had begun, especially with the Chinese making it into an international incident.
As for myself being half American-Japanese living in Japan, it was quite interesting to see how MacArthur began the reformation of Japan after WWII. I was also quite impressed with Yuki Shimoda playing the Prime Minister of Japan, and how he gave MacArthur full support in making sure that Japan could not again build a military force. That meeting between the Prime Minister and MacArthur was very touching to me.
After watching the film, I also couldn't help but feel somewhat sad seeing how the world has changed from the circumstances of the past. After the Korean War, where communism was allowed to take hold of North Korea, the situation between North Korean and Japan is now somewhat strained, what with various incidents including kidnapping and illegal transportations. It is sad to see in the movie how this would have been prevented if MacArthur had been given leeway to finish the Korean War with a sound victory instead of the unforgivable option, the "armistice."
All in all this is a wonderful movie that shouldn't be missed. There is one warning I would like to add which a few reviewers have also mentioned. The film is somewhat 'choppy' as in the plot moves along pretty swiftly. Unless you are very well informed about the years in which the movie takes place, there is a high possibility you would be lost as to what is going on. My suggestion is either 1) watch the movie with someone who understands the history of that time well, or 2) study the history before watching the movie. I can guarantee though that after watching "MacArthur", curiosity will overcome you and make you want to read more about those years.
*Rated PG for some war violence. But in any case, best watched by older teens and adults so that they know what is going on. I guess this will lean more towards being a 'guy' movie, though for any girl (like me) who loves good acting and is interested in history will most definitely like this movie*"
I am proud to be the best general and I am right
Micheline Anne Montreuil | Quebec city in Canada | 06/16/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This movie about the military carreer of General Douglas MacArthur from 1941 to 1953 is a very good one. You may like him or not but it not important. You may agree or disagree with his decisions but he has taken them. He was a great general and he was sure that he was always right. So, look at one of the mightest general of the U.S. Army. Is is a very good movie."