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|Index||57 reviews in total|
There are a few things to love about this ambitious World War II epic,
many things to like and one thing to loath.
In terms of production values, scale, scope and sweep, "Winds of War" and it's sequel "War and Remembrance" are unparalleled. WoW consists of two compelling narratives: The larger back story of WWII itself (propelled by the leaders of the era, Hitler, Roosevelt, Churchill, et al), and the smaller, personal stories of the Henry family and friends. The former far more interesting than the latter.
These two story threads are seamlessly woven together by the Henry Patriarch, Victor 'Pug' Henry (Robert Michum) who conveniently Forrest Gumps his way into a half dozen major policy meetings of both the Allies and Axis powers. Believing that a Navy captain could (in the span of 2 years) befriend Roosevelt, chat up Churchill, negotiate with Hitler & Mussolini and toast Stalin...is a bit of a stretch, but here, it works. This is due in no small part to the credibility Robert Michum brings to the role, carrying himself with the kind of dignity and charisma that could indeed curry the respect of these world leaders.
Scenes set within the upper echelons of power (White House, 10 Downing, Wolf's Lair, etc) are far and away the best of the series. While Roosevelt, Churchill and Mussolini all receive effective portrayals, the interpretation of Adolf Hitler by Gunter Meisner tops them all. Balancing the cagey, political brilliance of Hitler with the twisted, maniacal evil has always been a challenge for actors, but Meisner pulls it off nicely. Yes, we see screaming, red faced rants, but they are usually accompanied by creepily engrossing soliloquies (outlining his rational for invading France, and later the USSR) that add depth and dimension to the madness.
The story of the Henry family is only interesting in so far as it connects to the larger WWII narrative. Seeing the direct, human impact that Hitler's aggression and tyranny has on the Henry circle is effective and instructive. However, almost every other aspect of their family story is inconsequential and trite.
Which brings me to the loathsome of WoW: Ali MacGraw. As Natalie Jastrow, the love interest for Pug's son Byron (Jan-Michal Vincent), Ali delivers quite possibly the worst acting performance ever filmed opposite Jan-Michael (and yes, I am including the Airwolf helicopter). Her performance manages to be both bland and shrill, sucking the life out of every minute she's on screen (which, when added up, sadly accounts for about 1/3 of the 15 hour running time). Watching her slack-jawed, one-note performance, I felt pity for the other actors dragooned into her orbit and mourned for the movie that could have existed in her absence. For a glimpse of that movie, you need only rent "War & Remembrance" where her character was thankfully recast with Jane Seymore.
However, one long, grating, bad note cannot spoil what is still an impressive achievement and worth the investment in time.
As I review the comments of others, I see little reference to Gunter Meisner's work as Adolf Hitler in this series. Well, I see where someone thought it overdone. My own reaction was to wonder if this actor won any awards for his performance. Anyone know? Every time he appeared, I commented to my wife how impressed I was at how striking and forceful and commanding he was. Particularly in his scene with the General about the invasion of France. Overall, the Winds of War is a very compelling piece of work. I don't know how I managed to miss it when it first showed as a miniseries, but I'm sort of happy since I can now appreciate it on DVD without commercials. I bought it for my wife for Christmas. She kept mentioning it as the best TV movie she ever saw, and darned if she isn't right.
After reading the book in high school and seeing the movie on ABC I would say it's the best made for TV series I have ever seen. The Hallmark Channel has bought the rights to "The Winds of War" and I am looking forward to viewing it again. I also look forward to "The Winds of War" & "War and Remembrance" coming out on DVD.
I saw this a second time after reading the Herman Wouk novel and liked it
The acting, scenes are wonderful and adhere closely to the book.
My only comment is that Ali McGraw is too old for the Jewish girl she played. In addition, Victoria Tennant is really terrific. Difficult to see how anyone could ignore her after her charming appearances.
I wish this video(or DVD) could be lumped up together with those for 'War and Remembrance". That would be great !!
I am not sure how Mr Wouk got the information. Historical facts, imagination or inside information ? They all seem accurate and credible.
Don't miss it.
Make sure watching it several times.
ABC made a very large splash with this production in 1983. It
represented a very major project for the network & it drew big ratings.
Dan Curtis did a very credible job within the constrictions of this. It
has the look & feel of a major film in spite of it's small screen
The total series is done from a world perspective on how things looked in the time leading up to Americas entry into World War 2. While the battle sequences are limited by what the budget could produce, they are effective.
The cast, while good is somewhat our of place. Robert Mitchum is a fine actor but is too old for the role of Pug Henry. Ali Mcgraw is attractive, but has difficulty bringing off the acting in her role. For a network mini series, this is very well done given these leads & a very large cast of supporting players.
As this series does move among several locales involved in the conflict, you get some feeling for things that happened like being in the Kremlin when Germany was bombing it. A short sequence of the German front line within sight of Moscow in 1941 is interesting. A Nazi party in Germany with Hitler & a group of American guests is unique.
The Russian sequences are some of the early feelings of the Russian front given to Americans historically before World War 2. Sadly, Americans were not exposed to what really happened on that front until after the 1980's when the Soviet empire split apart & some of the Russian archives were finally made public. Still, Stalin's portrayal in this is more balanced than some, almost creepy.
This film was the first to present FDR & show physically what a miracle it was that he was leading the US. It showed how he led but how his fragile leadership was hidden from the American public.
Overall, for television a crowning achievement. As far as art, Herman Woulks novel is better in spite of how much work went into this production.
I've just revisited this mini-series on DVD for the first time since I
saw it when it was first screened on TV back in 1983, so my memory of
it had been very vague and I'd forgotten pretty much all of it.
I'd also forgotten just how singularly dreadful Ali MacGraw is in this.
I've not read the book, but I have the impression that the character of Natalie Jastrow is supposed to be strong-willed, spirited, feisty and sexy. If that's the case then MacGraw failed on all counts.
Instead of being strong-willed, spirited and feisty, MacGraw's Natalie comes across as spoilt, petulant and generally obnoxious - constantly complaining, throwing hissy-fits and looking down her nose at people (both literally and metaphorically). And when she's trying to be all coquettish for the benefit of Sloate and Byron, her performance is about as sexy as a bad case of athlete's foot.
All in all a horrible piece of miscasting by the producers, and I'm not in the least bit surprised that she wasn't rehired for the sequel "War And Remembrance" (in which Jane Seymour's Natalie was a quantum leap improvement over MacGraw's portrayal). At least Old Bleary Eyes himself, Robert Mitchum, brings gravitas, presence and start quality to his role, even though he looks all of his (at the time of filming) 66 years and was really about 15 years too old and several trouser sizes too large for the character he was playing.
Looking beyond the presence of Ali MacGraw though, this classic mini-series is a great way to while away a week's worth of evenings in front of the TV, and the way in which historical events and characters are interwoven with the more personal story lines of the main fictional characters is very nicely done.
The sequel is even better (and longer), and I'm looking forward to starting on that soon.
This movie gives the viewer a very good basis for understanding the events that led up to WWII. Each character gives a unique perspective on the times, events and conscience of the countries involved. This movie holds your attention from start to finish, is never boring, and leaves an impression that will remain with you for a long time. It is also good for classroom use at all levels, especially if WWII is being covered with students. Personally, I anxiously await its release.
POWERFUL! POWERFUL! POWERFUL! Herman Wouk's novel is nearly as good adapted to the screen as it was a novel. The mini series was perfectly cast and superbly acted. I'd forgotten how beautiful Polly Bergen and Ali McGraw are in this film! Robert Mitchum's performance is absolutely flawless. I recall seeing this several years ago and I loved it then. I love it even more on DVD! I am now trying to find the sequel, War and Remembrance. If I recall, it is every bit as good! Back to this one, however. Ali McGraw does a fantastic job as a jewish woman trapped in a Europe dominated by the jew-hating Nazis. She is trapped because of the trepidation of her uncle, who hates to leave his beloved Italy. As a consequence, she ends up stuck as well. There are many complications, not the least of which is that she is married to an American Naval Officer, Byron Henry, superbly played by Jan Michael-Vincent. This is a long one (>15 hours!) but is well worth the time it takes to watch it.
The novel Winds of War is so engrossing that I've read it several
times. The mini-series tries hard to put it on the screen, and has some
notable success. The screenplay, written by Wouk himself, is faithful
to the book; the location shooting and production values are first
rate; and many of the performances are excellent. Unfortunately,
several of the main characters are way too old for their parts.
Robert Mitchum is a tired looking 66 year old senior playing the part of a vigorous 50 year old naval officer. Jan-Michael Vincent is a 39 year old man playing a 23 year old youth. But the real stick-in-the-eye is Ali MacGraw. Not only is she a 45 year old woman playing a 30 year old, but she is so bad, so monotone, that it's like she was never in front of a camera. Very distracting, and puts a serious flaw in every scene that she ruins.
Lots of other performances are right on. Polly Bergen, Peter Graves, Topol, and David Dukes are all perfect in their roles.
In spite of the defects, the mini-series is like the book. Once you start watching, you're hooked.
If you like war movies and love stories this is the movie for you. Multiple plots and love stories going on at the same time. Great movie I have watched it now more than 12 times. Touches your heart along with giving an idea of what that time was like for people. The story of what different parts of a family go through during the time before the beginning of World War II. I found this movie to be very informative for me in particular about the things that happened in Poland. Robert Mitchem was his normal great self in this movie. Especially the scene where he stops the German waiter and makes them apologize. Jan Michael-Vincent again was in his Element as the son of Pug Henry falling in love with the beautiful woman who Natalie who has not been home to America for years. For me it was the greatest love stories and I enjoyed it from beginning to end. I give it a Ten and more.
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