Envisioned as a successor to the Oscar-winning military biography Patton (1970), this solid biography of the controversial World War II general suffered from sins of omission rather than commission.
Dealing with General Douglas MacArthur’s career from his departure from Corregidor in 1942 before the Philippines fell (when the corncob-pipe-smoking general boldly announced, “I shall return”), his stay in Australia, his return via New Guinea to liberate the Philippines, his term as Japan’s supreme commander and, ultimately, his alienation of President Truman as a result of Korean War policy – the respectful screenplay offered a shorthand version of these events (often via flashbacks), with superficial results.
Gregory Peck captured both the look and the temperament of MacArthur most convincingly, as well as the man’s superb gift of oratory, nowhere better demonstrated than in the famous “Old soldiers never die – they just fade away” speech to Congress in 1951.
Director Joseph Sargent’s handling of the sprawling material was commendable, and while the emphasis was not on spectacle, the few battle scenes that were included in the film were also competently handled.
None of the other performers matched Peck, with Dan O’Herlihy as President Roosevelt and Ed Flanders as Truman emerging as little more than waxworks.
General Douglas MacArthur