The Winds of War (TV Mini-Series 1983– ) Poster

(1983– )

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A Great TV Series - Including Ali McGraw
filmtechnz13 January 2018
I thoroughly enjoyed this series, and have to definitely disagree with previous reviewers regarding the casting of Ali McGraw as Natalie Jastrow. I thought she was brilliant in the role, and was disappointed to find she had been replaced in the follow up series War and Remembrance. I also enjoyed the performances of David Dukes as Leslie Slote, and Peter Graves, Victoria Tennant and Jeremy Kemp. Although I have never been a fan of Robert Mitchum he was acceptable as Victor Henry. Gunter Meisner's portrayal of Adolf Hitler was also brilliant and realistic. I have watched this series more than once and cannot recommend it highly enough.
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They don't make them like this anymore
calvinnme18 November 2017
Gigantic, lumbering TV mini-series written by Herman Wouk, and based on his book. Robert Mitchum stars as a Naval attache that gets shuttled around the various hot spots of Europe in the early parts of WWII. The story starts a few weeks before Germany invades Poland, and ends with the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The other main characters include Mitchum's wife (Polly Bergen), who is having an affair with an atomic engineer (Peter Graves). Mitchum himself is having romantic feelings for a young British woman he has met (Victoria Tennant). Their three children are also featured: Madeline (Lisa Eilbacher), who wants to work in commercial radio; Warren (Ben Murphy), who has followed his father into the Navy; and particularly Byron (Jan-Michael Vincent), an amiable layabout who has fallen in love with a Jewish girl (Ali MacGraw) in Rome. MacGraw's father (John Houseman) is a famous author, and she is also wooed by Leslie (David Dukes), an employee of the U.S. State Department. Chaim Topol as a Czech Jew who witnesses German atrocities, Jeremy Kemp as a German general, and Ralph Bellamy as FDR round out the cast.

Filled with many other recognizable faces from TV and films of the past, the cast keeps you interested even when the script doesn't. The script is reasonably well done, though, so that isn't much of a problem. Those interested in the vagaries of the international diplomacy leading up to the European theater of WWII will find much to chew on here. The performances are adequate for the most part, although the actors playing Hitler and Churchill are a bit over the top. At around 14 hours and 45 minutes, this is quite an undertaking, but I had always wanted to see it, and I watch anything with Mitchum in it at least once.
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A miniseries that was ahead of its time
justin-fencsak22 May 2017
After watching one chapter of this epic miniseries on DVD, I thought that this miniseries truly captures the moment when WWII arrived. The casting, music, and visuals are pretty good although dated by 1980s standards; the success of this series spurred an even longer miniseries, War and Remembrance, which won more emmys than its predecessor and was favored more than WWW.
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Excellent series. One glaring factual error.
jordans-4867127 August 2016
I regard WINDS OF WAR and WAR AND REMEMBRANCE, the sequel, as the two greatest series ever produced for television. I lived through those times, and the producer managed to recreate the spirit and feel of the age. There have been many who have criticized the acting, but I thought it more than adequate. Contrary to some, I thought that the actor playing Hitler in WINDS did a superlative job. I also thought Mitchum carried his part very well, though I saw him as 20 years too old for the role. Regardless of any casting or acting deficiencies, however, the sheer sweep and drama of the story carried all along. It's a magnificently told history lesson.

There is one factual error that has always puzzled me. In the conversation between Pug Henry and Bryon Henry just before dinner with the Roosevelts, Pug refers to the German battleship BISMARCK as if it were a pocket battleship. The BISMARCK was NOT a pocket battleship. In point of fact, it was the biggest battleship afloat at that time. Herman Wouk was an American naval officer in World War II. How did that error slip past him?
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sprawling historical epic and family melodrama
SnoopyStyle21 November 2015
This TV mini-series starts from March 1939. Victor 'Pug' Henry (Robert Mitchum) is the new US Naval attaché in Berlin. On board the trans-Atlantic crossing, he meets traditional German General Armin von Roon (Jeremy Kemp) and Pamela Tudsbury (Victoria Tennant). His wife Rhoda (Polly Bergen) has a flirtatious affair with Palmer Kirby (Peter Graves). His oldest son Warren (Ben Murphy) is in the Navy. His second son Byron (Jan-Michael Vincent) goes to work for author Aaron Jastrow (John Houseman) in Italy. He joins the niece Natalie Jastrow (Ali MacGraw) on a trip to Poland for her Jewish family wedding meeting patriarch Berel Jastrow (Topol) and then the Nazis invade. They seek help from her boyfriend embassy bureaucrat Leslie Slote (David Dukes) forming a love triangle. Pug returns to America as President Roosevelt's secret adviser and finds his youngest daughter Madeline (Lisa Eilbacher) working for CBS. The cast of characters encounters the wide ranging historical drama that is highlighted by Hitler's scenes climaxing with the attack on Pearl Habor and the Phillippines.

This is an epic TV miniseries. The cast is headed by the great Robert Mitchum. Some may dismiss Jan-Michael Vincent's acting skills and the elderly Ali MacGraw. Vicent was 80s hot and MacGraw still had her charms. The story covers most of the major historical aspects. It may be too convenient in sending its major characters to the various hot spots. However it's done very well for an 80s TV miniseries. That also includes the action considering it's pre-CGI. There are plenty of extras and the sets are big for TV. Overall, it's a vast sprawling epic hitting all the important points of history.
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Excellent except for McFraw and Bergen
racheline11 April 2015
I'm watching Winds of War for the second time and it didn't take long for me to remember how irritating both Ali McGraw and Polly Bergen are. Are there really self absorbed irritating people like those two. I sincerely wish that Jayne Seymour and the actor who replace Jan M Vincent in War and Remembrance had also been in Winds of War. They're both excellent credible actors. I don't know what actress could have replaced Polly Bergen. She was absolutely insufferable and air headed. Not aware in the least of the gravity of the world's situation. Someone like Annette Benning could have done a much better job. Although robert Mitchum is an excellent actor...he was just too old as was McGraw. I'd like to believe that someone like S. Spielberg is thinking of remaking this movie. He would do a brilliant job and the casting would be superb.
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Better than you think
slabihoud8 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Looking back at this series 30 years after it has been made it is easy to find many faults.Beginning with the casting of Mitchum and Ali MacGraw as the principal characters both too old for their respective role. But one has to admit that Mitchum is perfect as the duty-driven naval officer who wishes to get the command of a ship but continues to fulfill every other position to serve his country and his president.

Ali MacGraw on the other hand plays Nathalie to the point, in fact her performance led me to buy the books and read the whole story through. I think it is a pity they did not let her play the part in the second series too.

Many reviewers pointed out many other casting problems but overall the series clinks to the book as best as they can and this is very relieving. I had to order the DVDs again, first I had a German version but it turned out that it was severely shortened it ran only 5 episodes instead of 7! They had most of Hitler and the German officers scenes edited out!! I watched it now in English only DVDs.
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Lives and love tossed around by the Winds of War..
bluesman-2029 November 2014
When the mini series came out in 1983 I was 13 years old. and not interested in Such things. My father on the other hand loved World War II history and he idolized Robert Mitchum. So this series was picture perfect for him. About a week ago I found The Winds of War on Youtube and watched it from beginning to end. After it was over the only thing I could utter was Wow. The Story read like a text book. and the acting on all parts was solid and perfect. Robert Mitchum was the heart and soul of this series. His Captain Victor "Pug " Henry was the man who seen every thing risked everything at his president's say and had a window to history. as a result Pug not only witness history put plays a important role in history. the Sub plots were not as strong as the main story. The Story of Rhoda Henry's affair with a family friend is weak. But still well done. The Subplot of Byron henry and Natalie Jastrow and their problems and romance takes up almost half of the main plot and while it is a a much needed part of the story. sometimes it spins it's wheels. Ali Macgraw while a gifted actress comes across at times as wooden, While Jan Michael Vincent delivers a steady job as Byron Henry And John Houseman as Arron Jastrow seems at times to be a intelligent man who is brilliant on paper but dumb in life. These sub plots drive the main story forward from the beginning of the War in 1939 to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Well done and a major accomplishment in story telling on TV. The Winds of War is a classic story. That has the emotional impact it deserves. And it makes you feel like you were there. A Well done job of writing and acting and a fantastic job done by Dan Curtis who holds it all together.
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A Classic must see film
Charles Reinderhoff23 December 2013
I call this TV production a film. That is not the case of course. Its a series of films. Seven to be exact. The Winds of War is a collection of seven mini-movies rolled up in what is now called a 'mini-serie'. I have read both books and the films are a tribute to them. In every way possible the 'WoW' is a must-see for anybody who is a WW2 history buff. I myself rate both series (WoW and it's follow up 'War and Remembrance') as unsurpassed classics in the genre. The story which unfolds is of epic magnitude. The effort made to be exact and precise is stupendous. There is nothing like it and must rate as probably as one of the best films ever made for television, probably only matched by 'Band of Brothers'. On one thing it is surely the record holder: the costs! This epic production was the most expensive ever made. At the time a whopping 40 million dollars, which converted in present day dollars, would still make it extremely dear. Reading the books is looking at a film and vice versa. There is nothing quite like it. The research on facts and history is almost unbelievable. Writer Herman Wouk put years and years in to this effort. It's a life's work. Not only writing the books, but later also co-writing this epic story for television. It must be one of the high points in the history of television. The only thing one yearns for after viewing the 'WoW' is the follow-up!

The casting of the actors is almost perfect. Robert Mitchum IS Pug Henry. The same goes for Jan-Michael Vincent. He IS Byron Henry. And on and on you can go down the line. The whole cast is absolutely fantastic, delivering some of the best performances these actors ever gave. Many actors have later agreed on this. The filming of this enormous production was nothing short of an adventure.

Winds of War is everything rolled in to one. Drama, suspense, angst, comedy, humor, terror, love, hope en all other things that makes life such a roller coaster ride. And everything is covered by the sweeping musical score which binds the story together and delivers a listening experience unparalleled in film land.
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Brilliant Depiction
feldwebbel15 July 2013
for anyone who as followed actors who portrayed Hitler, I have to say that Gunter Meisner was absolutely Brilliant.. His rants to his generals and guests in episodes 2 and 3 had me replaying them countless times to marvel at his emotion... Very convincing to the point of frightening, an account of the man's madness that gripped the globe for years. Have a look at the sheer energy and body language, the incredible backdrops and use of ominous music and settings. you'll agree no doubt... Its a shame this man died years ago< i saw in him the ability to carry the message of world dominating madmen to the big screen with absolute ease
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Sprawling Story of WWII Prologue.
Robert J. Maxwell21 May 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Well, a prologue for the USA anyway. The war had been going on for two years before our enemies attacked us.

Mitchum and his family are our eyes and ears as things heat up overseas and in the White House. As a favorite of President Roosevelt, Victor "Pug" Henry gets to meet just about everyone of importance. I mean, he chats over breakfast with Roosevelt; he gets drunk with Stalin.

Throughout it all, he's a man of genuine principle and something of a bore. He only insults people twice -- once when someone suggests a double date with a woman not his wife, and another when a German bureaucrat offers him a bribe. Otherwise, he sits and listens, intently and politely, something Mitchum was very good at doing.

His wife, Rhoda, played by Polly Bergen, is a chatterbox and an airhead, easily impressed by pomp. She was the same character in Wouk's novel, which is at least as interesting as history as it is a story about characters.

However, like "War and Remembrance", it sprawls all over the place like a fly on the wall with hundreds of lenses in its eyes. The story follows Mitchum's extended family and certain political notables all over Europe. Some, like Churchill and Von Roon, are rendered well. Hitler is a made-up stereotype, a cartoonish figure who lacks the charisma he had in the novel. Poor Gunter Meisner, who is saddled with the role, has had make up turn him into Frankenstein's monster as if, without the hint, we wouldn't understand that he's a bad guy.

Wouk was a naval officer in World War II and served aboard several minesweepers in the Pacific theater. I love his "The Caine Mutiny" and re-read it every few years. It's focused on the character arc of one person, Willie Keith, and has practically no political overtones, although it has enough action and insight to satisfy whoever sits on the Pulitzer Prize committee.

Willie Keith's romance is neatly sketched in and parallels his development as a man. Here, the romance is all over the place, compounded with pregnancy and allegiances that form cross currents. Rhoda has an affair with a peregrinating scientist. Pug is attracted to a much younger woman. Ali McGraw once loved Sloat but now she loves Byron, and she's a Jew and he's some kind of high-church Protestant. Gosh. Will it all work out? Mitchum is fine as Captain Henry. He has little to do except sit there with no expression on his face while someone voices an opinion. Wouk had one problem, here and elsewhere, that he seems unable to overcome. He simply CANNOT get inside the heads of any enlisted men. I don't know what the author's background was. He sounds working class when he speaks, yet he's a graduate of Columbia. But he seems far more comfortable with the upper echelon. I speak to you as an ex radioman second class.

Whatever its flaws, it's an ambitious story and reflects an awesome amount of research, as well as some twisting of history for dramatic purposes.
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Broken promise
Ric-78 May 2013
I truly enjoyed this miniseries, which I had never seen until this week. I'd seen War and Remembrance and liked it, so I figured that I'd now be able to enjoy a "pre-quel." So, uh. . . , where was Jane Seymour? The other characters were familiar, but I was trying to place Ali MacGraw in the later series. I had to check out the cast lists on IMDb. I couldn't place Ali, because evidently she had been re-placed. And I soon saw why.

There were some films in which Ali was very good. But those were her first films: Goodbye, Columbus and Love Story, for example. Did you know she won a Golden Globe award in the year of Love Story, as the "Most Promising Newcomer"? I just saw that on IMDb. A broken promise, IMHO.

I think the reason she is so bad in this series is that the script had major problems and the director was not resourceful enough to talk Ali through it. Major story developments of the first half of the film depend mainly on arbitrary, unmotivated and totally absurd choices made by Natalie Jastrow. For a single example: she would leave her dear uncle alone in Italy and go off to a Jewish wedding in Poland knowing that Hitler was about to attack? Perhaps a more skilled actress could have made us accept Natalie being just a flighty impulsive creature--a tragic flaw. Perhaps she inherited it from her uncle--but John Houseman at least made me believe that a scholar of history could be so dismissive of current events. But as enacted by Ali, all I saw was a willful haughty imbecile, making me wonder what Briney ever saw in her.

I also thought the "romance" in this series was disposable, or worse. The various triangles were boring, and unnecessarily time-consuming. The series was at its best when it kept close to actual historic events. It is, of course, completely improbable and nearly impossible that approximately six to eight of the characters should be on-hand for most of the noteworthy events in the pre-WW2 years, rubbing elbows with all of the major players.

If you think that Ali MacGraw is a terrific actress, then add two stars to my rating. If she makes you cringe (as I did), I still think the miniseries is worth watching. It is true that many cast members were playing characters at least fifteen years younger. I was willing to suspend my disbelief. Except about Ali. And there, it was not her age that troubled me.
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Epic Television
bkoganbing16 March 2013
The Winds Of War, part history part soap opera offers a Zelig like view of America's entrance into World War II in the years from 1939 to early 1942. Our protagonist Zelig is Robert Mitchum as Victor 'Pug' Henry a naval captain who has had a succession of shore assignments and yearns to get back to a ship. He knows war is coming and the promotions will come for those with battle command experience.

In the meantime Mitchum is assigned as the naval liaison to the Berlin embassy where he sees and observes what is going on at the highest levels of government. He writes a report predicting the Hitler-Stalin pact which impresses one Franklin D. Roosevelt. They have history going back to the first World War when Mitchum was just a lieutenant. FDR himself asks for Mitchum to write him privately.

That part of history is absolutely the case. Roosevelt distrusted official diplomatic channels in the State Department and always relied on a variety of sources for information. Returning as FDR after his critical and popular success in Sunrise At Campobello is Ralph Bellamy. He's just as good here.

The history part one can read in all the books, but author Herman Wouk gave us soap opera as well. Mitchum is married to Polly Bergen and has three kids in descending order, Ben Murphy, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Lisa Eilbacher. All of them have their stories as well, mostly Vincent and his involvement and marriage to an older and Jewish woman Ali McGraw.

That's a good part of the story, McGraw meets up with Vincent in Italy where he's leading a Bohemian type life and she is visiting her scholarly uncle John Houseman. McGraw and Vincent marry and have a child. But time and circumstances leave McGraw, Houseman, and the baby behind enemy lines while Vincent activates his naval reserve status and goes to war. A big part of the plot is his efforts to get back to his new family.

Mitchum and Bergen are coming apart. Bergen had the best role in the series in my opinion. She was bored with her life and something of an airhead. She drifts into an affair with scientist Peter Graves. And Mitchum starts falling for Victoria Tennant, the daughter of a British diplomat.

According to Lee Server's insightful biography or Mitchum, the original thought was to cast Ed Asner in the lead because in the novel Pug Henry is given that name because he has a bulldog like appearance. But some box office was needed so Mitchum who I guess is closest to being bulldog like of classic Hollywood leading men was hired. He carried the role well of a man who thinks life might just be passing him by in the career he has chosen.

Wouk did his research well and the mini-series was just the format to present all the subtleties of his epic novel. The Henry family stories are nicely integrated into the real story of America going into World War II.

This is epic television of the best kind.
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Winds that blow U
Diya Dutta31 January 2013
Well I have just watched the whole series some what 30 years after its making (2013). But still it looked so smart and contemporary. This is the most informative WWII series I've ever seen. one wishing to learn the history of WWII will have ample of stuffs in here, rather it depicts the whole history of the cause of WWII. The character of V. Henry (pug) was magnificent and so relating, somewhat i didn't liked the love chemistry of Bryan & Natalie so much prolonged gave the series a pause in accelarations, but at the end ohh yes the Pearl harbour raid was in deed dramatic & so effective... again i sud say one in search of WWII history may give this a try. now I'm waiting eagerly to see its sequel war & remembrance 1988... so far as to this one I give 9/10.
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Way, Way Too Much Filler
affromva22 August 2012
The miniseries could have been easily condensed to six-to-eight hours.

So many "fluff and stuff" scenes ... that drag on for what seems like hours.

Mitchum carries it. MacGraw, Graves, Bergen, and Vincent are horrible; when they hit the screen, the show slows to a crawl. Tennant and Dukes deliver respectable performances as do everyone of the "baddies".

The character portrayed by MacGraw ... nobody is that stupid.

And why introduce the second son ... maybe to create the suspense that eventually he'd play into the plot?

The ending is anticlimactic.

I'd like to see it remade.
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History. Bad acting.
deschreiber29 November 2011
This is an attempt to produce a big epic about World War II. Its strengths are the location shooting, with lots of variety of settings, costumes and background incidentals, a huge cast of extras to make city and crowd scenes effective, and a story that weaves the narratives of a number of individuals into the great events of World War II.

It does not, however, have much in the way of special effects or the kind of spectacle that we're generally used to seeing in big war movies. We see the bombing of Warsaw, for example, by watching two characters sitting on a couch with some plaster falling from the ceiling while the sound track plays booming noises. Completely inadequate.

The worst weaknesses are in the acting. (I do wonder, though, whether maybe the bad acting had something to do with weaknesses in the script, as Wouk was not exactly a Shakespeare.) In any case, two of the main females, Ali McGraw and Polly Bergen, are immensely irritating. While McGraw is the chief love interest, she does not manage to make herself in the least bit attractive. In order to make her character appear spoiled and willful, McGraw makes far too much of a very annoying self-satisfied smirk and a way of flouncing around that made me want to scream "Stop!" Polly Bergen plays an older woman, wife of the protagonist, Robert Mitchum, who in the middle of very serious political situations is concerned only with the surface of things. She could have made the character someone you felt a little sorry for because of her shallowness, her pathetic failure to grasp the world around her, but in Bergen's characterization she becomes someone for whom I felt only anger and contempt. Mitchum has always had more screen presence than acting ability; in The Winds of War he makes very little use of what acting ability he does have, most of the time merely looking like Robert Mitchum. Jan-Michael Vincent, playing one of McGraw's love interests, seems only capable of looking handsome and occasionally raising an eyebrow as a mark of insubordination. John Houseman's elderly scholar speaks. like. THIS. pronouncing. each. word. SEPARATELY. and. EMPHASIZING. about. every. THIRD. word. in. a. MOST. annoying. WAY. The director thought that the right way to depict David Dukes as a career diplomat who might not be quite as manly as the big, brave soldiers around him was to have him carry a pipe absolutely every second of his life. All this bad acting seriously undercuts the tone of the film.

As long as I am listing annoyances, I must mention the music whenever the U.S. president is about to come on stage, or even when Mitchum picks up a letter from the president. The music is heavenly, prayerful, worshipful in an offputting, even disgusting way--not so very different, in fact, from the kind of musical accompaniment you might get in a North Korean propaganda film about Great Leader Kim Il Sung. Horrid moments.

All in all, the movie is worth watching because it includes so much historical background and for the variety of scenes. For me, though, the enjoyment came at a significant cost.
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Has its moments, but likely not nearly as good as you remember
jkochoa496626 July 2011
This mid 1980s miniseries was quite a hit with American TV audiences. This movie would spawn a second miniseries, it's sequel War and Remembrance. There is some pretty good acting by Robert Mitchum and David Dukes but you will be quickly annoyed with Ally MacGraw's antics as a fearless Jewish Debutante who constantly and coincidentally tromps into scene after scene diving into more than a few dangerous predicaments (all avoidable) as War explodes across Europe. By the second episode I was wishing the Nazis would have got MacGraw's character in place of others...Jan-Michael Vincent is Ally's American love interest whose father (Robert Mitchum)is an important Naval Attache in Berlin who also coincidentally is an old buddy of FDR and even runs in a few of the same circles with some Nazi elite including some parties with who else...the Fuhrer. Polly Bergen plays Mitchum's wife, a shallow "Society worshipping" dame whose philandering is possibly hinted at. There are some other characters in this movie including the actor "Topol" who may have his most memorable performance as a Jew swept away early by the Nazi machine. There are some painfully realistic scenes showing the fate of the Jews during the Holocaust that left me stunned and some situations that are a bit unexpected. Lisa Eilbacher has a less prominent role as the daughter of Mitchum but made the most of her part in this miniseries. Also see Peter Graves (Mission Impossible) and Victoria Tennant in supporting roles as well as John Houseman (The Paperchase). If you can't get enough of this movie War and Remembrance picks up where this one leaves off on the eve of Pearl Harbor.
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Great Movie Watching
WWIIFan2 July 2011
I recently watched Winds of War for the second time. I agree that some of the actors were miscast (definitely Ali McGraw) but for all that it is a great mini-series. If you haven't read the book, McGraw may not annoy you that much. I agree with the reviewer who said to look for acting gems in the supporting cast. I especially liked Jeremy Kemp as General Armin von Roon. Robert Mitchum did do a great job despite his being over the age of the character Victor Henry. Historically, the major events were accurate and besides a good story it is also a good history lesson.

Highly recommend.
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"Winds" sometimes blew hot and cold
norton271 July 2011
Ms. Ali "should have called it day with Love Story" McGraw? Sorry but all I could see was the same whimsical, throw the head back, monotone replies through most of the movie. Reminiscant of her Love Story performance. It worked well there but not in the streets of Warsaw or D.C. Especially the scene with the embassy person while trying to get her Uncle's passport reinstated. Her attempt to change mood and win over the ambassador was laughable. Poor casting on some of the characters, especially McGraw. The actor playing Hitler? Worst Hitler I have ever seen. The guy was grotesque and over acted. Mr. Mitchum and his counterpart the German General did much to save the day. I rate the movie based on story line, history, etc. = 9. Ali and some of the other cast pull the rating down to more of a 7.

Top billing stars like Ali, just not believable or memorable. Mitchum, Houseman and the supporting cast such as Kemp and Topol (minor parts) performed exceptionally and made the movie. Characters like the Jewish businessman who rented his home to that was acting...powerful. You look for those memorable moments in a movie that make you want to watch a second, third or more times. This one is a toss up for me and unfortunately not a first pick for as a "watch over".
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Love, love, love this miniseries
mvc11331 December 2010
I first watched this miniseries when it was broadcast on TV and I videotaped it at the time. When it came out on DVD, I rented it several times from my public library. Finally, I bit the bullet and purchased the DVD set for myself. Needless to say, I have watched the 'Winds of War' many times. I also own the book, which I read before I ever watched the miniseries. Of course, there are some differences between the book and the miniseries, but nothing that matters. Robert Mitchum is perfectly cast as Pug Henry. Can't think of anyone else for that part. Polly Bergen is perfect as Pug's wife Rhoda, too, and the rest of the cast seems true to their characters. Bergen's wardrobe is gorgeous. Rhoda is a fashion plate in every scene. Victoria Tennant shines as the much younger Pamela Tudsbury. Very beautiful. Contrary to some other reviewers,I really liked Ali McGraw as Natalie Jastrow and was disappointed when she was replaced by Jane Seymour in the sequel 'War and Remembrance.' One thing the book didn't have that the TV series has is the great background music. Awesome. Don't miss 'The Winds of War' if it is ever rebroadcast or try to borrow it from your public library.

Don't miss
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An isolated fault
stephen-71129 April 2010
My overall review is similarly enthusiastic to numerous others. There is an isolated technical fault that does not detract from the overall merit of the film that only an aviator would notice in the episode "Defiance".

Reference is made to a British RADAR technology with the incorrect abbreviation of "RDF". "RDF" stands for Radio Direction Finding and has nothing to do with RADAR. The correct term is "IFF" - Identification Friend or Foe, a RADAR technology that allows ground-base RADAR to distinguish between British aircraft and German ones through the use of a transceiver device in each Allied plane.

The technology is still in use today in civil aviation. Frankly I am a bit surprised this mistake was not caught by the many experts who worked on the script.
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Stop Criticizing Ali MacGraw - She's Perfectly Cast!!!!!
bragant7 November 2009
Later I will post a second review which discusses the rest of this wonderful series, but first I have to get something off my chest - I think Ali MacGraw is terrific as Natalie Jastrow Henry - in fact, I believe that no one else at the time could have been more appropriate for this great role. Miss MacGraw - whom no one will say is the best actress ever - was perfectly cast as the annoying, yet glamorous, Jewish-American-Princess who marries a Christian without batting an eyelash and gets trapped in wartime Europe. Miss MacGraw's interpretation of the role is far superior to Jane Seymour in the sequel, 1988's WAR AND REMEMBRANCE - Seymour is buried in ill-fitting clothes and a mountain of hair and just does not capture Natalie's fire and passion AT ALL. Back in 1981 when WINDS was in pre-production, Jan-Michael Vincent was one of the hottest TV actors around and had been signed to play Byron Henry early on. Vincent was in his late 30s at the time and because he had already been securely cast, producer Dan Curtis had no choice but to find an actress who appeared to be older than Vincent, as the age difference between them is a big part of their relationship and is frequently commented upon during the course of the story. Many people have since criticized the casting of these two pivotal roles, but I think the fault is with Wouk's otherwise masterful teleplay, which keeps mentioning their ages despite the fact that it is totally ludicrous to, for example, claim that Jan-Michael Vincent is a recent college graduate. Wouk should have changed the script to take into account the actual ages of the performers, but he did not. Also, I think many people attribute their dislike of MacGraw in this role to "bad acting" when in fact, the character is written that way - Natalie is abrasive, temperamental, argumentative and a bit spoiled - and she is one of my favorite characters in popular fiction, the perfect anti-heroine. On the negative side, Miss MacGraw was often badly photographed here (compare her appearance at the dinner table scene in the first episode with her scenes in Lisbon as Byron Henry's bride - in the latter sequence, she is photographed like a dream and looks 10 years younger, whereas in the former scene she is very badly lit and made up), and I also agree that the pacing and force of her lines should have been restrained here and there, but that is the fault of the direction, not the performer. On the positive side, MacGraw and Vincent truly have a fantastic chemistry between them and they are a completely believable couple, bickering and all. When was the last time you watched a show where the female half of a couple was the taller one and it still made sense? They are a very realistic pair and bring an energy, verve and old-fashioned American sass to their eccentric characters which provides a perfect contrast to the chilly manners of the Europeans around them. The scenes where Byron and Natalie are trapped in the German invasion of Poland are wonderful - scary, suspenseful, and exciting to watch while at the same time providing a valuable history lesson. Also, the elegant and slender MacGraw - one of the great beauties of the 20th century, after all - looks beyond chic in her tailored clothes, totally putting Jane Seymour in the shade! When I saw this as a kid, I never even noticed their ages - I just thought that MacGraw and Vincent were both exceptionally attractive people and I was too interested in this series' nearly-flawless recreation of the world of 1939 to quibble about "miscasting." I love Jan Michael and Ali in the Palio sequence, the aforementioned Warsaw sequence and I think their love scenes are just fine. Stop blaming Ali MacGraw for bad lighting and writing, and try and think of anyone else who could have brought off such a complex and deliberately irritating character with such panache and style! If you ever read this Miss MacGraw, I say to you that this was your finest work and I will keep defending your "Natalie" until I am old and gray!
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Wouk's version of War and Peace
Andre Raymond3 October 2009
Fans of War and Peace will see the obvious parallels between Wouk's two novels and Tolstoy's epic Napoleonic saga.

Both tell the story of two families (in Winds of War we have the Jastrows and the Henrys, in War and Peace we have the Bolkonskis and the Rostovs) and their friends swept up in the events just prior and during epic wars. The destinies and stories of the fictional members of those families are intertwined with those of historical figures. In each of the novels there is one character who gives a historical overview in long dissertive essays. In War and Peace there is the unflappable general Kutuzov. In War and Remembrance there is the stolid German soldier, Von Roon.

The problem of adapting both authors to the screen is one of scope and length. Do you remember Snoopy's epic adaptation of War and Peace with sock puppets in Charlie Brown? Well, Dan Curtis did a credible job of bringing Wouk's vision to the screen. He replaces Von Roon's larger post-war essays from the novel by the third-person narrator. Had he still been alive at the time I could see Curtis choosing Lorne Greene (the so-called "voice of doom" from those old WWII propaganda documentaries).

Aside from the endless redundancy of Nathalie and Aaron Jastrow's trying to get out of Europe and the equally repetitive and saccharine love story between Pug and Pamela, the story goes along pretty well.

The portrayal of Hitler has been widely criticized, but needs to be placed in the proper perspective. Hitler is seen through the eyes of the very aristocratic Prussian Von Roon. He would be perceived as a buffoon.

As far as historical narratives go, this production gives the next generation a good overall impression of why and how World War II came about. War and Remembrance was more problematic in that it relied a great deal on stock footage and footage purchased from other movies (in particular from Tora! Tora! Tora!) to show the big battles of World War II.
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Unbelievably Great
hmcusn29418 February 2009
I have watched this movie/miniseries a number of times and never tire of it. Contrary to many other posters I think the casting was phenomenal, and that includes Ali MacGraw in the role of Natalie Jastrow. I think what is happening here is that she is being judged more as Natalie than as Ali. Natalie Jastrow is not a likable character. She is willful, stubborn, headstrong, opinionated and manipulative, and Ali MacGraw plays the role to perfection, so much so that each time I watch the movie I find myself thinking "to hell with her, she deserves whatever happens to her," and I wonder what there is that Byron Henry finds so appealing in her.

In fact, I am more impressed with the women in "Winds" than with the men. Polly Bergen is another one that I find myself losing patience with and wishing that her husband would kick her out of the house. Her character of Rhoda Henry, the mother of Byron and wife of her naval officer husband, is another unlikeable character. Rhoda is an unfaithful wife who is social conscious and a lush who revels in the moments of partying, and whines and complains when the attention is not on her. Polly Bergen plays the role so well that it is difficult not to think of her as being an unlikeable person as well.

Then there is Victoria Tennant. WOW! Every time I watch the DVD's of this movie I find myself fast forwarding to those scenes in which she appears, and then backing up to watch them again. She is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, in life or on the screen, and her character of Pamela Tudsbury is just as sweet, kind, soft and feminine as I imagine Victoria Tennant must be, as I hope she is. I do find it odd that she (Pamela) is attracted to a man as old and paunchy as Robert Mitchum's character, but hey, it's only a movie, and I just know that in real life Victoria would much prefer a man of younger years.

My last kudos go to Deborah Winters who plays the role of Janice Henry, the new bride of Warren Henry, the oldest son of Rhoda and "Pug" Henry, and brother of Byron. Deborah, as Janice Henry, is the perfect Navy wife. I get the feeling when watching her that she must surely have been married to a Navy aviator on Dec. 7, 1941. I spent twenty years in the Navy after going to sea in the Merchant Marine as a sixteen year old and am familiar with who is a good "Navy wife," and she plays the role convincingly, and she is so attractive in it that I am amazed that we didn't see much more of her subsequent to making this movie. I looked forward to seeing her in "Remembrance," but for some insane reason they replaced her with Sharon Stone and remade her character into a promiscuous character typical of the slutty roles that we are used to seeing Sharon in.

The movie is a perfect representation of those years preceding WWll. I grew up during that period, having been born in 1927, and remember sitting around the radio after supper through the thirties, with Mom and Dad talking about Hitler and the rumors of atrocities against the Jews, and wondering what it was all about. Watching this movie is like going back in time and reliving it all. If anyone has an opportunity to see it they should not pass it by. It is amazing.
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Jan Michael Vincent is AWESOME in this!
robespierre914 June 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Wow, this is such an impressive TV miniseries!! Let me preface this my saying I am a huge Jan Michael Vincent fan, and he is just wonderful in this show. I think he has fantastic chemistry with Ali McGraw. I'd never really seen Ali in much before this, but I love her character Natalie Jastrow! She is really fun to watch, and the love story that develops with her and Jan's character Byron is so special. It literally leaves you at the edge of your seat at the end of each episode. It's very well acted, touching story with WWII developing in the background. There are some heart-stopping moments in Poland, Lisbon, etc. However, this TV ultimately disappoints (SPOILER!) as the story steers away from Byron/Natalie. In fact, there is hardly any resolution to ANY of the story lines at the end. It's abrupt and very unsatisfying. Apparently, Natalie ends up going to Auschwitz in the sequel 'War and Remembrance'. I would much have preferred a reunion of Byron and Natalie myself - for the very reason that the 2 actors dominate the screen, and without them, the story seems to lose momentum!

Anyway, if you was a Jan Michael fan, this is a MUST SEE! He gets a lot of screen time (until the last 2 episodes), and his story with Ali McGraw is really the focus of the show.
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