The story of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and United Nations Commander for the Korean War. "MacArthur" begins in 1942, following the ... See full summary »
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The story of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur, Supreme Allied Commander during World War II and United Nations Commander for the Korean War. "MacArthur" begins in 1942, following the fall of Phillipines, and covers the remarkable career of this military legend up through and including the Korean War and into MacArthur's days of forced retirement after being dismissed from his post by President Truman. Written by
Anthony Hughes <email@example.com>
History buffs will find plenty to quibble with in "MacArthur." Like a lot of World War II movies, it has its share of minor errors. And American military enthusiasts are certain to have strong opinions on Douglas MacArthur already, which will affect their views of the film.
But all in all, I think this is a remarkably balanced look at an extremely controversial person. For those who know little about MacArthur, it's a good place to start. He was a larger-than-life figure, and in this film you can see both why he was revered and why he was despised.
Although MacArthur came of age in the 19th century and became a general in World War I, this movie focuses on his high and lows in World War II and the Korean War. During that time he was an iconic figure. "Iconic" is an overused word, but it applies to him. With his trademark hat and corncob pipe, plus his curiously old-fashioned way of speaking and his instinct for controversy, he was unmistakable and larger than life.
During the late 1970s, the post-Watergate era, traditional war pictures were no longer in vogue. "M*A*S*H," the mildly pacifist TV series set in the Korean War, treated MacArthur as a rather silly figure. But this movie, made in 1977, takes the man seriously, while showing his flaws clearly. It also is more frank than most classic films about how little consensus there is in warmaking. Leaders quarrel and connive while making policy, and the most loyal grunts are often dismayed at the decisions that put them in harm's way.
Gregory Peck is excellent in capturing the complexity of Douglas MacArthur. Peck was an outspoken political liberal, and one has to assume he was no admirer of the unabashedly right-wing MacArthur. But he takes on the man's persona admirably.
After heaping so much praise on "MacArthur," I must admit it is not great cinema. It's more interesting than moving. But if you're under 50 and know Douglas MacArthur only as a name in the history books, this will be an eye-opener. Like any good introduction to a subject, it should encourage you to seek other information and form your own opinions about the man and his times.
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