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Geoffrey G. Bowers
The production shoot for this picture ran for around five months. The picture was filmed during May, June, July, August and September 1979. The picture was not first released until May 1981. See more »
In one scene, a closeup of a digital watch is used to indicate the time. Digital watches were invented 25 years later. See more »
[opening title card]
This is not a documentary of the war in Korea but a dramatized study of the effect of war on a group of people. Where dramatic license has been deemed necessary, the authors have taken advantage of this license to dramatize the subject.
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Inchon! is infamous as the $45m flop movie the Moonies made after their plans to make a musical about the life of Jesus with Elvis Presley fell through after The King ate one cheeseburger too many. To be brutally honest, divorced from the stories of the staggering behind the scenes incompetence, the film isn't the inept laugh-riot you might expect. Indeed, its biggest problem is that it's just so damn mediocre. It even occasionally flirts with competence there's one scene on a bridge crowded with refugees that has to be destroyed before the communists can take it that's pretty good when the movie stars aren't involved, there's some spectacular footage behind the main titles, Bruce Surtees' cinematography is good, and Jerry Goldsmith's score is very impressive. Its worst crime (aside from the death of an extra in a shot that appears to still be in the film) is that by showing the North Koreans as stereotyped monsters machine-gunning any extra they meet in every scene, it does tend to trivialize the very real atrocities committed by both sides during the Korean War: Tae Guk Gi it ain't.
It's when the stars and story are in the foreground that the problems really start: nobody's here for anything more than a paycheck, and the script from the author of The Green Berets and The Happy Hooker - wouldn't pass muster in the 50s. Ben Gazzara walks through it like a man who can't believe he's being paid this much for this s*** ("I'm a Marine that's a special kind of cat"), Jacqueline Bisset gives the worst performance of her career ("I'm just a woman with five orphaned children in the middle of a war"), Toshiro Mifune proves once again he can't act in English, David Janssen seems to be there simply to fill in chunks of MacArthur's backstory that the writers couldn't work in any other way, Rex Reed once again shows that for a movie critic he really has lousy taste in movies to appear in, and Richard Roundtree's just there to chauffeur the white folks from setpiece to setpiece. This being a Terence Young film, there are also a handful of badly dubbed Bond movie veterans among the smaller parts Anthony Dawson, Peter Burton (the original Q) and Gabriele Ferzetti among them. There is also some perverse satisfaction to be had from spotting blacklisted Mickey Knox turning up as an American admiral in such an unashamedly anti-communist film.
That said, the three hour cut unveiled at Cannes WAS much funnier, especially in the notorious scene where Jesus appeared in the clouds to persuade a reluctant pilot to bomb the Commies (no, seriously), which was removed when the film was cut down to a 141-minute version that premiered in 1981 two years after shooting finished before being immediately shelved (though it has subsequently had a few screenings on an obscure Christian TV channel). That itself is longer than the eventual 105-minute theatrical version from 1982 that cut all of David Janssen's exposition-heavy part and luckily took all of Rex Reed's scenes (as an airsick music critic covering the war!) with them.
The one area where the movie DOES deliver comedy gold and how is any scene with Laurence Olivier as MacArthur. Made up to look like a wax museum model of a freshly embalmed Skeletor with a badly dyed comb over and for some reason using an accent that sounds like Rod Steiger doing W.C. Fields, it's a staggering display of bad acting, eye-rolling and scenery chewing: Variety may have found his performance convincing, but his briefing on the landing alone could be used as a masterclass for ham actors. For real kitsch value, you need only to look at Olivier's tender scenes with Mrs MacArthur "I'm off to save this world. Well " "I know you will return. But in time for dinner!" or his faithful puppy dog Al Haig, played with boyishly enthusiastic incompetence by John Pochna. Despite being very dead for a very long time, MacArthur himself reportedly told them to cast Olivier via a psychic, but it's rather easier to imagine Dugout Doug repeatedly beating Olivier's head against the pearly gates to this very day for making him look such a buffoon.
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