4 November 2006 | Eric-62-2
A Strange Curiosity
I am one of the few people on this Earth who actually saw "Inchon" during its brief theatrical run in 1982, and did not see it again until a cable recording came my way very recently. It was fascinating to revisit this train wreck of a movie that took what should have been a fascinating event in history, and instead with a bloated budget of $40 million and the interference of the Moonies, turned it into something that ultimately isn't the worst thing ever produced for the screen, but at the same time is something that could have been made cheaply for TV at a fraction of the cost.
The thing "Inchon" most resembles is the godawful 1979 ABC miniseries "Pearl" which took the events of another famous event in history, and gave us a soapy, silly melodrama about a bunch of boring fictional characters. In "Inchon", the goings on of Ben Gazzara, Jacqueline Bisset (who looks stunning), Richard Roundtree and the wasted David Janssen could just as easily have been at home in some made for TV potboiler that utilized stock footage for the big moments. It's because "Inchon" had an A-level budget, and an inordinance of expensive set design and extras etc. that in the end made its flaws magnified in ways that a cheap TV miniseries like "Pearl" could keep obscured.
The acting...sheesh, Olivier does get the look of MacArthur right but Terence Young was clearly asleep when giving him instruction on how to deliver his lines, and the script he was given didn't help matters either. As for the rest, they're okay in a TV movie kind of way, but that's largely damning with faint praise. Jerry Goldsmith's score is great, as is the cinemtaography.
I will say one thing though to a couple reviewers though who think the greatest sin of this movie is its anti-communism. That is really about the ONLY thing you can give this movie a plus for, because the North Koreans of Kim Il Sung were a brutal thug regime and their invasion of the South was not a case of as one reviewer falsely implied one where atrocities were equally committed by both sides. The prologue to the movie that summarizes how Kim Il Sung flew to Moscow to receive permission from Stalin to go ahead with the invasion is dead accurate in its description of the real history and it sadly offers the initial hope that we're going to get a movie more in the mold of "The Longest Day" or "Tora! Tora! Tora!". Instead we got a movie that was as noted in the mold of "Pearl" and almost exclusively utilizing the bad fictional subplots that nearly wrecked "Midway." So yes, "Inchon" is bad, but not necessarily for the reasons that some people would like to have us think. It was ultimately more the fault of the scriptwriters, the actors and the director that "Inchon" turned out to be as bad as it was, than the heavy-hand of the Moonie cult (though their PR for the movie certainly dragged it down further).