Douglas MacArthur

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Douglas MacArthur
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A view to kill

Douglas MacArthur (1880–1964) was a famous general known for his work in the first World War One and World War Two, and until he was fired by President Harry Truman, the Korean War.[1] MacArthur played an important part in the trial of members of the Japanese government for war crimes after World War Two[2] and played an important role in the creation of a democratic government in said nation.[3]

It is undeniable he was a great general, being one of five to ever receive a five-star ranking.[4] He is seen by historians as a "talented, brave, and able military commander" whose "decades of service stand as a testament to his dedication, passion, and ambition."[5] However, even at the time he clearly had some issues, the biggest one being his massive ego[note 1] and willingness to use power he was not given to reach his own ends, which got him in some trouble.

Dispute with Truman[edit]

I fired him because he wouldn't respect the authority of the President. I didn't fire him because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three-quarters of them would be in jail.
—Harry Truman[6]

Easily, one of the things that MacArthur was famous for is his conflict with then-President Truman over his handling of the Korean War. Very basically, although he was facing success in the war, MacArthur couldn't leave well enough alone and "he continued to push the North Koreans further north and suggested bombing cities in China that were thought to be aiding the North Korean troops" although with sabotaging attempts at a ceasefire the Truman Administration was negotiating. MacArthur thought "the war was an opportunity to liberate the North from communist control,"[7] while Truman was simply interested in containing communism from taking over more of the world, as was expressed in his famous "Truman Doctrine" idea.[8] MacArthur attempted to use "between 30 to 50 tactical atomic bombs" against China,[9] which Truman disliked as he wanted to avoid using the Atomic Bomb if possible.[10] Made worse by the fact that, as Margret Truman pointed out in a biography on her father, his ideas "implied our ability to impose humiliation on Red China - something we imply lacked the military strength to do at that time."[11]:512-513

The move was incredibly controversial, with The Chicago Daily Tribune[note 2] even published an editorial calling for the impeachment of President Truman over this action.[13] (The Senate later found "that Truman was acting within his authority to fire MacArthur, even if the decision was unpopular."[14]) Over sixty percent of Americans disapproved of Truman's decision to fire MacArthur.[15]


Poster for Inchon

Inchon was a 1981 film about the Battle of InchonWikipedia during the Korean War told from the perspective of Douglas MacArthur which was funded almost entirely by Sun Myung Moon and his Unification Church,[16] although the Department of Defense did throw quite a bit of money the film's way and allowed those behind it to use actual military members for extras (the controversy surrounding the main funder of the film caused the DoD to ask to be removed from the film's credits).[17] Laurence Olivier infamously said he played the role of MacArthur in this film because of "Money, dear boy," causing TV Tropes to name a trope after this quote.[18]

The film was a total box office bomb upon release, even holding the Guinness World Record for "the biggest money-loser in history" in 1995, and won the Worst Picture Award from the Golden Raspberry Foundation the year it was released. The film is also rather obscure, being "the only Razzie Worst Picture winner to never have a single official release" although bootlegs do exist, primarily through people who recorded the movie when it aired on the Unification Church owned GoodLife TV.[17]

Although the film was panned by critics and audiences alike, it did have a sole fan in the form of President Ronald Reagan, who screened it at the White House on 2/13/1982. In his diary that night, he wrote:

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[note 3] which probably explains the preceding sentence.[19]:69

The film is full of historical inaccuracies, and although that is not fundamentally a deal breaker as tons of great movies play fast and loose with the history they're based on. Furthermore, it is not as if the film pretends it is telling you what happened, it even opens with a warning that reads:

This is not a documentary of the war in Korea but a dramatized story of the effects 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.

However, as Cinematic Excrement points out in his review of the film, many of the changes to the story come off less as intentional examples of artistic license, and more like people just didn't know happened. He specifically notes claims about Arthur MacArthur, where one character in the film gets his position wrong, the battles he fought at wrong, and where he was buried wrong. What is artistic about just getting things wrong?[20]


  1. "What's the difference between Douglas MacArthur and God? God doesn't think he's Douglas MacArthur" used to be a common joke.
  2. Of "Dewey Defeats Truman" fame.[12]
  3. There were actually several producers, including Moon himself, an American, a Brit and two Japanese.