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Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur (1976)

U.S. President Harry Truman and his commander in the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur, disagree on war strategy. Their conflict comes to a head when Truman relieves the insubordinate MacArthur from command.

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Lucille Benson ...
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Ivan Bonar ...
General
Bart Burns ...
General Collins
Ward Costello ...
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Ross Durfee ...
UP Man
Michael Fox ...
Adm. Sherman
Ben Hammer ...
Inchon Admiral
Anthony Herrera ...
Reporter
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AP Man
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Gen. George Stratemeyer
Johnston Kelly ...
Arthur MacArthur
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U.S. President Harry Truman and his commander in the Korean War, General Douglas MacArthur, disagree on war strategy. Their conflict comes to a head when Truman relieves the insubordinate MacArthur from command.

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Drama | History | War

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4 January 1976 (USA)  »

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Collision Course  »

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Watchable but not reliable
17 July 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

The dispute between President Harry Truman and Gen. Douglas MacArthur over how to fight the Korean War led to MacArthur's firing for insubordination in the early 1950s. This slickly made, documentary-style film purports to tell the story of that dispute. But it made some unwelcome headlines when it aired in 1976, with several former officials calling it wildly inaccurate. They pointed to the teleplay's depiction of a dramatic confrontation between Truman and MacArthur when the two men met during the war. According to those who had been present, the meeting was perfectly cordial and the two leaders were not yet at odds over war policy.

The film's storyline was clearly based on reminiscences by Truman in Merle Miller's 1974 best-seller "Plain Speaking." Critics of that book said Truman had either exaggerated or had a poor memory in describing some events in his career. Decades later, a historian claimed that Miller himself had fabricated some of the quotes in the book, which was published after Truman's death. In any case, this film is not a historically accurate account of the Truman-MacArthur feud.

That's a pity, because "Collision Course" is so believable. The casting of Henry Fonda and E.G. Marshall is inspired, and the whole thing has a "you-are-there" feel. If you watch it, remember to read some real history first. Or at least afterward.


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