MacArthur (1977)

PG | 130 mins | Biography | 30 June 1977

Director:

Joseph Sargent

Producer:

Frank McCarthy

Cinematographer:

Mario Tosi

Production Designer:

John J. Lloyd

Production Companies:

Universal Pictures , Zanuck/Brown Company
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HISTORY

       The film begins with the following written prologue: “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.”
       End credits include the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Department of Defense, the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the Corps of cadets of the United States Military Academy.”
       After earning a Best Picture Academy Award for Patton (1970, see entry), producer and retired brigadier general Frank McCarthy planned to follow the film with a biographical picture about Douglas MacArthur, despite opposition from MacArthur’s widow, Jean MacArthur, as stated in a 5 Sep 1972 Var news item. Several days later, a 7 Sep 1972 DV brief announced that MacArthur was set to be the first project in a multi-picture co-production deal between Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown’s Zanuck/Brown Company and Universal Pictures. While the 2 Nov 1972 DV reported that Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins had been hired as writers and the two men ultimately shared sole onscreen writing credits, numerous shooting scripts included Stanley R. Greenberg as a writer and a 6 Aug 1975 Var news item announced that the film was being written by ... More Less

       The film begins with the following written prologue: “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.”
       End credits include the following statement: “We gratefully acknowledge the assistance of the Department of Defense, the United States Army, the United States Navy, the United States Marine Corps, and the Republic of Korea, as well as the Corps of cadets of the United States Military Academy.”
       After earning a Best Picture Academy Award for Patton (1970, see entry), producer and retired brigadier general Frank McCarthy planned to follow the film with a biographical picture about Douglas MacArthur, despite opposition from MacArthur’s widow, Jean MacArthur, as stated in a 5 Sep 1972 Var news item. Several days later, a 7 Sep 1972 DV brief announced that MacArthur was set to be the first project in a multi-picture co-production deal between Richard D. Zanuck and David Brown’s Zanuck/Brown Company and Universal Pictures. While the 2 Nov 1972 DV reported that Hal Barwood and Matthew Robbins had been hired as writers and the two men ultimately shared sole onscreen writing credits, numerous shooting scripts included Stanley R. Greenberg as a writer and a 6 Aug 1975 Var news item announced that the film was being written by Greenberg alone. Although various Var production charts for “films in the future” listed Greenberg as the only screenwriter through Jun 1976, Barwood and Robbins were included with Greenwood in the charts after the film’s 19 Aug 1976 principal photography start date. However, Greenwood was neither credited onscreen nor mentioned in contemporary reviews.
       On 23 May 1973, Var stated that McCarthy was slated to direct and later that year he was scouting locations in Asia, according to a 3 Oct 1973 Var news item. The following spring, a 24 Apr 1974 Var brief announced that Lamont Johnson had been hired to direct and on 9 Aug 1974, Var reported that Johnson and McCarthy were headed to Korea, Japan, Taiwan and Manila, Philippines, to resume the search for locations. The project remained in development for well over a year, until a 3 Nov 1975 Var news item reported that Stanley R. Greenberg was granted a “go-ahead for a final rewrite on the $9 million project.” While a 20 Feb 1976 DV brief stated that principal photography was scheduled to begin Jun 1976, it also reported that neither McCarthy nor Johnson were directing. Joseph Sargent was announced as director one month later, in the 24 Mar 1976 Var.
       According to a 13 Jun 1973 Var article, John Wayne, Charlton Heston, Marlon Brando and Cary Grant were among the actors whom McCarthy considered for the title role, but it is unclear if any of the men were approached. On 11 Sep 1974, Var announced that George C. Scott had turned down an offer to play “General MacArthur” on the grounds that the part was too similar to his title role in Patton. Several weeks later, a 25 Sep 1974 Var news item mentioned that Laurence Olivier was asked to accept the starring role of MacArthur, but a 12 Mar 1975 Var report stated that Universal executives “recently” declined McCarthy’s “suggestion” of Olivier. The actor eventually portrayed MacArthur in Terence Young’s Inchon (1982, see entry). Var announced Gregory Peck in the role on 25 Feb 1976.
       The film appeared on Var production charts as early as 19 Mar 1976, listed among “films in the future,” but principal photography was delayed until 19 Aug 1976, as confirmed by Var production charts on 20 Aug 1976. Despite initial plans for overseas locations, filming was relegated to the U.S. to limit costs, according to the 13 Aug 1976 DV. As stated in various Var production charts, locations included Bremerton, WA, and the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, as well as the following CA sites: Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, Camp Pendleton in San Diego County, the San Diego Naval Air Station, Edwards Air Force Base in the Mojave Desert, Catalina Island, and Universal Studios in Los Angeles. The picture remained on Var production charts through 5 Jan 1977.
       MacArthur opened to mixed reviews, but critics were generally consistent in comparing the film to Patton, often unfavorably. While the 1 Jul 1977 NYT referred to Peck's performance as “remarkably good” and praised the film's morally complex view of the general, the 8 Jul 1977 IFJ complained that the film was “more like a public school historical pageant than a movie.”
       The picture was nominated for one Golden Globe in the category Best Motion Picture Actor – Drama (Gregory Peck).


The summary and note for this entry were completed with participation from the AFI Academic Network. Summary and Note were written by participant Jon Marquis, a student at the University of California, Los Angeles, with Jonathan Furner as academic advisor.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
7 Sep 1972.
---
Daily Variety
2 Nov 1972.
---
Daily Variety
20 Feb 1976.
---
Daily Variety
13 Aug 1976.
---
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jun 1977
p. 2.
Independent Film Journal
8 Jul 1977.
---
New York Times
1 Jul 1977
p. 8.
Variety
5 Sep 1972.
---
Variety
23 May 1973.
---
Variety
13 Jun 1973.
---
Variety
3 Oct 1973.
---
Variety
24 Apr 1974.
---
Variety
9 Aug 1974.
---
Variety
11 Sep 1974.
---
Variety
25 Sep 1974.
---
Variety
12 Mar 1975.
---
Variety
6 Aug 1975.
---
Variety
25 Feb 1975.
---
Variety
3 Nov 1975.
---
Variety
19 Mar 1976.
---
Variety
24 Mar 1976.
---
Variety
13 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
20 Aug 1976.
---
Variety
5 Jan 1977.
---
Variety
29 Jun 1977
p. 26.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Richard D. Zanuck / David Brown production
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Unit prod mgr
Unit prod mgr
1st asst dir
2d asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Prod des
FILM EDITOR
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
SOUND
Sd eff ed
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec visual eff
Matte photog
Matte photog
Titles & opt eff
MAKEUP
Make-up
Make-up
Hair stylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Chief tech adv
Asst to the prod
STAND INS
Stunt coord
COLOR PERSONNEL
Col by
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
MacArthur the Rebel General
Release Date:
30 June 1977
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 June 1977
Los Angeles opening: 5 August 1977
Production Date:
19 August 1976--early January 1977 in CA, NY and WA
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Lenses
Lenses and Panaflex camera by Panavision®
Duration(in mins):
130
MPAA Rating:
PG
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
24876
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

Late in life, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur speaks to a class of young cadets at West Point, his alma mater, emphasizing “Duty, honor, country.” Decades earlier, in 1942, MacArthur surveys wounded soldiers on the island of Corregidor, Philippines, three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Although MacArthur assures a wounded Filipino soldier that help is on the way, President Franklin D. Roosevelt is advised to focus military attention elsewhere, and MacArthur is commanded to leave the Philippines for Australia. Despite MacArthur’s desire to defy orders, he is convinced by General Richard K. Sutherland that the Philippines will be saved by Roosevelt’s strategy. MacArthur declines special privileges on his voyage to Australia and insists that he and his wife and young son traverse mine-filled waters on a PT boat. In Melbourne, MacArthur is incensed to learn that the U.S. will neither provide aid to the Philippines nor defend Australia; however, Roosevelt has awarded him the Medal of Honor. Addressing a cheering crowd, MacArthur announces his intent to continue fighting Japan in the Philippines, declaring, “I shall return,” but soon after General Jonathan M. Wainwright makes a radio proclamation from the base at Corregidor, surrendering the Philippines to Japan. Although Filipino and American lives are saved by the surrender, MacArthur discredits Wainwright’s broadcast. When MacArthur learns that Wainwright is also being considered for the Medal of Honor, he thwarts the award by declaring Wainwright unfit for command. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Australia, MacArthur deploys the country’s poorly trained troops to nearby New Guinea to mount an attack, but the soldiers struggle and die in the jungle. To prevent insurrection, ... +


Late in life, U.S. Army General Douglas MacArthur speaks to a class of young cadets at West Point, his alma mater, emphasizing “Duty, honor, country.” Decades earlier, in 1942, MacArthur surveys wounded soldiers on the island of Corregidor, Philippines, three months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Although MacArthur assures a wounded Filipino soldier that help is on the way, President Franklin D. Roosevelt is advised to focus military attention elsewhere, and MacArthur is commanded to leave the Philippines for Australia. Despite MacArthur’s desire to defy orders, he is convinced by General Richard K. Sutherland that the Philippines will be saved by Roosevelt’s strategy. MacArthur declines special privileges on his voyage to Australia and insists that he and his wife and young son traverse mine-filled waters on a PT boat. In Melbourne, MacArthur is incensed to learn that the U.S. will neither provide aid to the Philippines nor defend Australia; however, Roosevelt has awarded him the Medal of Honor. Addressing a cheering crowd, MacArthur announces his intent to continue fighting Japan in the Philippines, declaring, “I shall return,” but soon after General Jonathan M. Wainwright makes a radio proclamation from the base at Corregidor, surrendering the Philippines to Japan. Although Filipino and American lives are saved by the surrender, MacArthur discredits Wainwright’s broadcast. When MacArthur learns that Wainwright is also being considered for the Medal of Honor, he thwarts the award by declaring Wainwright unfit for command. Fearing a Japanese invasion of Australia, MacArthur deploys the country’s poorly trained troops to nearby New Guinea to mount an attack, but the soldiers struggle and die in the jungle. To prevent insurrection, MacArthur warns that officers who refuse to fight will be stripped of their command. MacArthur puts himself in harm’s way to view battlefield corpses, then orders his men to bypass the Japanese stronghold in Hansa Bay in an effort to starve the enemy of food and supplies. Sometime later, an American newsreel is screened in the barracks, claiming that MacArthur has “turned the tide toward victory.” MacArthur receives letters asking him to run for President, but he claims to have no political ambitions. At a Pearl Harbor meeting, Roosevelt jokingly offers the general a “MacArthur for President” button. As the heads of the U.S. Armed Forces convene, MacArthur disagrees with Admiral Chester Nimitz's plan to bypass the Philippines and seize control of Formosa. The general instead insists on his own strategy, arguing that the military must launch a blockade on the Philippines island of Luzon to disable the Japanese. He assures Roosevelt that Filipino guerrillas are prepared to fight with Americans. Countering Roosevelt's skepticism, MacArthur evokes the President's pledge to support Filipinos and to free American prisoners of war in the region. When MacArthur adds that Americans will display their disapproval of Roosevelt during the next election if he reneges his promise, the President assures MacArthur that he will make a swift decision. Soon, U.S. Southwest Pacific forces are deployed to invade Leyte, Philippines. Although U.S. intelligence suggests the Japanese will quash a beach landing, MacArthur's men successfully storm the island and the general proclaims on a radio broadcast: “I have returned.” He is promoted to Five-Star General. Upon Roosevelt's death in 1945, Harry S. Truman assumes the presidency; MacArthur is outraged by Truman’s plan to drop atomic bombs on Japan instead of deploying the already-planned military invasion. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, MacArthur signs a peace treaty in Tokyo Bay, Japan, declaring the futility of war and warning the world about the threat of Armageddon. Assuming the role of Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers in the U.S. occupation of Japan, MacArthur tours the war-torn country and makes plans to rebuild. He promotes a labor movement and economic plan akin to the American New Deal and lobbies for Japanese women’s voting rights. Prime Minister Kijūrō Shidehara and MacArthur agree to renounce war and the atomic bomb in Japan's new Constitution. Sometime later, MacArthur negotiates with U.S.S.R. General Derevyanko to release prisoners of war and learns that the Soviet Union plans to invade the Japanese island of Hokkaido; MacArthur ends the threat by vowing to imprison the Russian delegation to Japan in retaliation. Back in the U.S., however, President Truman is irked by many of MacArthur's decisions, yet is intimidated by his popularity. Despite MacArthur’s previous denial of political ambition, he seeks delegates for a U.S. presidential nomination in 1948, but does not receive enough votes. Years later, MacArthur receives word that Communist-contolled North Korea has advanced over the 38th Parallel into the South and that Truman has committed ground forces to Korea. Despite Truman’s protests, MacArthur meets Chinese Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-shek to lay the groundwork for cooperation against Communist forces. In response to Truman’s antagonism, MacArthur explains that his actions are a fulfillment of the duty “to defeat Communism” and publishes a letter accusing Truman of appeasement. Meeting with General Walton Walker, MacArthur seeks to cut off supplies to North Korea by attacking Inchon. Truman later approves, but MacArthur realizes the President’s support is unstable and fears Inchon will be his downfall. After the mission's success, MacArthur is congratulated in person by Truman. MacArthur assures the President that he is no longer seeking political office, but warns that General Dwight Eisenhower may soon be a rival. When MacArthur predicts an end to the resistance in Korea and adds that China poses only a minimal threat, Truman publically declares confidence in the war's swift end. However, thousands of Chinese troops attack the Korean peninsula. When Truman proposes a cease-fire and orders MacArthur to stop all offensive measures, MacArthur defies the President and sends a message to China, threatening force unless the nation negotiates with him personally. Indignant over MacArthur’s insubordination, Truman relieves the general of duty and calls him back to the U.S. Following a homecoming parade of over seven million supporters, MacArthur delivers a farewell speech to Congress, citing the traditional ballad lyrics “Old soldiers never die; they just fade away.” Although Truman is convinced MacArthur will run for president, Eisenhower is nominated in his place. Resuming his speech at West Point, MacArthur echoes his refrain, “Duty, honor, country,” and receives a standing ovation as he bids the officers of the future farewell. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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