Vietnam was far enough behind forUniversal to manage a
forbearing bio-pic of a general anti-warriors loved to hate. MacArthur's
opponents, presidential and otherwise, come off as straw men in the face of
Gregory Peck's commanding perf, maybe the actor's last true hurrah before
"just fading away" as does his subject here (in Peck's case, from
strong leads). Universal was living in a past what with this and The Sting,
Gable and Lombard, W.C. Fields and Me, others
using earlier 20th century setting and dress. MacArthur looks a most expensive
of these, despite being US-shot with a TV director and lower-case support cast.
It is mostly talk and strategy; the general's temper a barometer of conflict
throughout. Roosevelt and Truman shrink before the dynamo that is Peck, his
persona making MacArthur seem a natural fit. There were comparisons with Patton
at the time, and more had gone to see that, maybe because it was less rote than
by-the-numbers history Universal told here. I wonder if hindsight made them
wish MacArthur had been done as a TV-movie instead of theatrical, it having
faint air of 70's work done for the tube.