MacArthur

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

As we enter another war (though that can be debated), we have to look to all of the past wars that our country has endured to find the significance of our beloved Military leaders. We know their names, but not too many have had the honor of having movies made after them. We all know the Academy Award winning “Patton” with George C. Scott at the helm, but what of another General during World War II? What of General Douglas MacArthur? It wasn’t until that I watched this movie that I realized how much of a rebel he actually was. Presidents were intimidated by him and he essentially had his way with whatever it is he wanted. Now MacArthur wasn’t the power-crazy madman that some envision him to be, but like him or hate him–you have to admit that he was one of the best at doing what he did.

The film of MacArthur isn’t like most biographical movies, in the sense that it starts out where we would most likely recognize him. During World War II, we all know the image of MacArthur with the aviator sunglasses, the corn cob pipe and the hat pulled way down, almost disguising who the man himself is. Covering the years from 1942-1951 (when MacArthur was eventually relieved of command from President Harry Truman), the film sees through the eyes of MacArthur, played almost to a tee by none other than Gregory Peck. We can see two sides of Douglas MacArthur; the father and loving husband or the Military leader that the world knows him as. From the time the Japanese surrendered to his somewhat questionable Police state in Korea, we see the general as who he is. Like him or hate him, he has left an indelible mark on our history and even our society. A little off the subject of MacArthur, and onto Gregory Peck. Peck was a near perfect choice for this role, but a far cry from his favorite movie (and one which won him an Academy Award for Best Actor) “To Kill a Mockingbird”. Peck literally embodies the role of the General, and it’s essentially his movie. The rest of the cast is pretty much no name, with Ed Flanders taking the role of President Harry Truman and Dan O’Herlihy in the role of Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Like him or hate him, General Douglas MacArthur was one of our greatest military leaders and in a time when we needed me like him, he was there and most likely helped turn the tide of the war with his efforts in the South Pacific. Gregory Peck’s performance is outstanding here, and it got him a Golden Globe nomination to boot. Lastly, you might think that all of these war movies were made right after we won the war, but I was surprised to find that this was made in 1977. True, I had not heard of it and to be quite honest, it’s not the best movie I’ve ever seen. But it’s a tribute to the man and proof that great actors portraying great people will unlikely equal at least a good movie. While there is a lack of features on the DVD, it will most likely leave most fans of it wanting more. Well, doubtfully Universal will issue an “Ultimate Edition” of MacArthur, but the disc for Midway will most likely satisfy most needs for your World War II craving.

Video: How does it look?

Universal has issued MacArthur in an anamorphic 1.85:1 transfer. While the source elements appear to be in fairly good shape, there are some scenes that left a lot to the imagination. Understandably, there are a lot of stock footage shots that look very dated (even at the time of the movie) and break up the continuity of the movie. I did notice that some scenes had a very clean look. While the majority of the film has a very muted color palette, most war movies do to convey the message, some scenes looked very bright and clear. Unfortunately those scenes are very few and far between as the final score for MacArthur is just above average. I wasn’t expecting much, and didn’t get it. I don’t think fans of the movie will be too terribly disappointed though, as this film looks as best as it possibly can.

Audio: How does it sound?

The Dolby Digital 2.0 mono track can only deliver so much. Mono is only one channel and in such, we can only expect so much from 1/5 of our system. Right? The dialogue does tend to get a bit distorted at some points, thereby giving it that “dated” sound, but on the whole it’s nothing you can complain about. As with so many other movies like it, even if this were remastered in a new 5.1 soundtrack, how good could it sound? Evidently we’ll never know, but the depth of the soundtrack is average at best. Not much else to say here…the soundtrack serves it’s purpose and not much else.

Supplements: What are the extras?

A trailer, some production notes and cast bios are included on the disc as well as a link to a DVD newsletter. Like I said, this will leave you wanting…but the Midway disc should delivery more than it’s share of extras.

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