When location filming ran past the original production schedule, Sir Laurence Olivier insisted on being paid his "bonus salary" in weekly cash payments, delivered to him as briefcases full of money, flown to the location by helicopter.
In an interview during production, Sir Laurence Olivier explained why he agreed to be in the cast, "People ask me why I'm playing in this picture. The answer is simple; money, dear boy. I'm like a vintage wine. You have to drink me quickly before I turn sour. I'm almost used up now, and I can feel the end coming. That's why I'm taking money now. I've got nothing to leave my family, but the money I can make from films. Nothing is beneath me if it pays well. I've earned the right to damn well grab whatever I can in the time I've got left."
The U.S. Department of Defense supplied 1,500 American troops (stationed in South Korea) as extras, at a cost of approximately $77,000. When the Department of Defense discovered that the Unification Church was one of the financial backers, they withdrew support and asked that credit be removed.
Initial footage of General Douglas MacArthur's final limo scene was rejected because the crowd was too small. The scene was re-shot in South Korea, but the shots of the crowds and the limo didn't match. Finally, the crew rented a studio in Dublin and put the limo against a rear projection of the crowds. The three-minute scene cost over $3 million.
According to the book "Olivier" (2005) by Terry Coleman, the Unification Church wanted to distribute this movie, but Terence Young advised the organization that it would result in the movie's release being a "total disaster", which is what ultimately happened.
Co-Screenwriter Robin Moore has said of writing this movie, "The theme I had to deal with in 'Inchon' was too big for a movie that was less than two hours. When Toho was originally involved, (they) wanted a love story between an American boy and a Korean girl. My technique is to research and then fictionalize, a technique I used successfully in The French Connection (1971). But I had to fictionalize the real landing at Inchon, making it seem that a lighthouse was a pivotal factor, when in fact it wasn't. I couldn't do that, which is why other writers were brought in."
In May 1981, when the original two hour twenty minute movie was released for a special one-night-only premiere in Washington, D.C., it was almost booed off the screen. The nationwide release was canceled. A heavily edited one hour forty-five minute version was released nationwide in August 1982. Many scenes involving talky subplots were deleted, including all of David Janssen's scenes. The film screened in Canada in 1982, but not in the U.K.
Applying make-up to make Sir Laurence Olivier look like General Douglas MacArthur took about two-and-a-half hours. According to the book "Olivier" (2005), after the make-up was applied Olivier felt he neither looked like himself nor MacArthur.
Sir Laurence Olivier, who was 72 and had been in poor health for years, suffered during filming in Seoul because of the summer heat.Terence Young recalled that between takes, Olivier lay on a cot, virtually immobile with pain and exhaustion. When needed, "he dropped 50 years and stepped forward without complaint."
Ben Gazzara once said of his involvement in this movie, "We didn't know there was Moonie money behind the film until we were six weeks into production. Actually, though, I guess it must have been fate that I be in that movie. I turned it down three times, until the producer told me Laurence Olivier was gonna be in it, playing General Douglas MacArthur, and I thought to myself, 'Well, why am I being such a purist? If Olivier's in it, why can't I?', and when we were filming, I met my wife, Elke. She's from Germany, and she was working as a model (in South Korea) at the time. We've been together ever since."
Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, a former actor and President of the Screen Actors Guild, viewed this movie in the White House on February 13, 1982. He wrote of the movie in his diary, "Ran 'Inchon'. It is a brutal, but gripping picture about the Korean War, and for once, we're the good guys, and the Communists are the villains. The producer was Japanese or Korean, which probably explains the preceding sentence."
The final shot of General Douglas MacArthur admiring a bust of Gaio Giulio Cesare was filmed in October of 1979, on a soundstage in Rome, Italy, over two months after filming ended. Reverend Sun Myung Moon, the movie's backer, included it to emphasize his Christian message to the viewers, although Caesar wasn't a Christian.
This movie screened at the 35th Cannes Film Festival in May 1982, the only time that it is said to have played in a theater in its full two hour and twenty minute cut. According to a report in the New York Times, the picture failed to get any interest from buyers because of the rumors that it had been financed by South Korean evangelist Reverend Sun Myung Moon's Unification Church. Public relations firm Rogers and Cowan was hired to run a publicity campaign that wound up costing $250,000, which was spent on such things as cut-out folders, Inchon clothing jackets, a screening, and a spectacular party.
This is Karen Kahn's film premiere. In an interview with The Press Democrat, she said, "It was supposed to be this Gone with the Wind (1939), and it was the worst movie. It's in some of those worst-films-of-all-time books. After that movie, I quit. I just couldn't take Los Angeles. I was really thin-skinned. So I just got out."
This David Janssen's final theatrical movie. He died before he could loop some of his dialogue, so Rich Little was hired to do the dubbing. Ironically, the movie sat on the shelf for three years looking for a distributor. When it was finally released, the looped scenes involving a press corps subplot with Janssen and Rex Reed were cut because it made the movie appear dated.
The world premiere was held in Washington, D.C. on May 4, 1981, at a special screening at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, as a benefit for retired U.S. Navy personnel, chaired by Senator Alfonse D'amato. Between 25 and 100 protesters demonstrated outside the Center. Twelve Representative signed on as honorary members of the benefit committee. Although an additional 48 Representatives accepted tickets to the premiere, Lawrence H. Suid wrote in "Guts & Glory" that "no more than 15 or 16 were willing to brave the pickets outside the Kennedy Center protesting the Unification Church, and its involvement with the movie."
Alexander Haig, who was a young Lieutenant at the time this movie was set, was played by John Pochna. The real-life Haig took time out of his schedule as the President of United Technologies to advise Sir Laurence Olivier of General Douglas MacArthur's traits and idiosyncrasies, and brief him for a feeling for the period.
Prior to the movie's opening, a two-and-a-half page negative review by Scott Sublett was pulled from the "Washington Times". It was replaced by an abbreviated one-paragraph review, also written by Sublett. The Washington Times is owned by the Unification Church, which financed this movie, leading to rumors that the review was killed to protect the movie.
The North Koreans' tanks were actually American M-41 Walker Bulldog tanks. Since authentic Russian T-34 tanks were hard to find during filming, the producers covered the American tanks with camouflage.
Part of the movie was filmed on board the U.S.S. Albany (CG10), at the time, the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship, in Gaeta, Italy, using the ship's bridge, especially the helm. The large wheel featured on the bridge was decorative only, not used while the ship was underway.
Sir Laurence Olivier was paid $1 million to play General Douglas MacArthur. He was contracted for six weeks of filming, got $250,000 upon signing the contract, and got the rest in four subsequent installments. His salary came out to $50,000 per day. He also got $2,500 per week for expenses.
Sir Laurence Olivier researched the role of General Douglas MacArthur by travelling to Norfolk, Virginia, to visit the MacArthur Museum, and speaking with Alexander Haig, who had served as MacArthur's aide-de-camp. Haig told Olivier that MacArthur's voice sounded like W.C. Fields, and Olivier tried to imitate this. He enjoyed working with accents, and obtained recordings of MacArthur's voice. He was interested in various inconsistencies in these recordings, and especially in the difference in vowel sounds made by MacArthur.
The music was recorded at Rome's Forum Studio in July 1980, and was plagued with difficulties. The studio wasn't large enough for the orchestra required, and room noise by the players and their equipment affected the tracks. In spite of the problems, Jerry Goldsmith was pleased with his score, describing it as a chance to "create interesting music out of a bad situation."
The press releases made many mystical claims, such as a B-29 bomber pilot seeing the face of Jesus Christ during the war, the spirit of General Douglas MacArthur causing his face to appear on a photograph of his office door. The press kit also claimed that MacArthur, who died in 1964, supported the movie.
The opening disclaimer and prologue states: "This is not a documentary of the war in Korea, but a dramatized story 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."
Equipment and vehicles featured in this movie included two warships, two troop transports, four landing craft for tanks, six anti-aircraft weapons, 12 armored personnel carriers, 12 fighter-bombers, 12 field artillery pieces, 16 landing craft for personnel, 18 tanks, and 24 Jeeps, as well as an array of guns, trucks, mortars, bazookas, machine guns, flame throwers, command cars, and assorted period military hardware.