At the start of filming, Gregory Peck disliked General Douglas MacArthur. After filming he changed his mind, understanding the challenges MacArthur had faced. He also stated he believed President Harry S. Truman was wrong to relieve MacArthur of his command in Korea in April 1951.
Producer Frank McCarthy once said of Patton and MacArthur: "Both were complex men but General MacArthur was complex on a much broader scale. Patton had no ambition except to be a soldier and to command a field army. He was strictly command."
According to producer Frank McCarthy, technical consultant to the production D. Clayton James wrote "the most definitive biography ever written about MacArthur." McCarthy said around the time of this movie's theatrical release that "there are at least one hundred and forty biographies or other books dealing with [General Douglas] MacArthur, some written by his idolators, but Dr. James' technical advice really leveled the character off for us in a most objective way. He was a tremendous help in authenticating situations in the screenplay that might otherwise have been deleted for legal reasons."
'Allmovie' said that "Star Gregory Peck went into MacArthur (1977) disliking the title character that he was slated to play, but emerged from the experience with a deeper understanding and respect for this complex historical figure."
During filming, Gregory Peck was in the process of buying a new house. He arrived for a viewing for the house he finally chose in his full MacArthur costume. He says that his appearance so intimidated the Realtor that he was able to offer a lower price on the property and still get to be the successful bidder.
This movie's opening prologue states: "When Japan attacked, he led us back to victory . . . . When Korea exploded, we turned to him again . . . . To this day there are those who think he was a dangerous demagogue and others who say he was one of the greatest men who ever lived. There is little doubt, however, that he affected the lives of millions all over the world, many of whom do not even know his name."
At the time of filming of the "Duty, Honor, Country" speech, Marj Dusay was only the third woman in history to occupy the West Point Cadet Mess "Poop Deck" while the Corps of Cadets was assembled. The first two were Queen Elizabeth II and the real Mrs. MacArthur.
To make this picture as authentic as possible, it was originally intended for it to be filmed in the actual historical locations that would be depicted in the movie. As such, an enormous location recce was undertaken by the key production personnel. The location scout went to the Far East and Asia including Korea, Japan and the Philippines. The result was the determination that none of the actual locales still resembled what they used to be in terms of the historical events the movie would be depicting. Both the Malinta Tunnel at Corregidor and Leyte Beach in the Philippines were completely different as was Tokyo, Japan. Moreover, Inchon, Korea's sea wall was no longer next to the city as it was during World War II. As such, the production decided to shoot the entire movie in the USA.
One aspect of MacArthur not covered in the film was the general's near- messianic popularity in postwar Japan. MacArthur was beloved by the Japanese for the same reasons that he was hated by Americans: his flair for the dramatic, his insistence on absolute obedience to his orders, and his seven-day-a-week commitment to duty. There were many Japanese who thought MacArthur should live in the Imperial Palace instead of the Emperor.
This movie is most notable for Gregory Peck's performance and characterization of General Douglas MacArthur. Peck, however, did not received a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for it. Peck however was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama for his portrayal of MacArthur.