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|Index||54 reviews in total|
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.
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.
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
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.
THE WINDS OF WAR is a rich achievement, a TV mini-series that looks and
sounds like a major motion picture with an exceptionally fine cast
bringing the story to life.
ROBERT MITCHUM is fine a "Pug" Henry, the Navy captain caught up in the turmoil of the war brewing in Europe, although a bit too old for the role if truth be told. Nevertheless, he gives a strong, solid performance in the central role and makes "Pug" the film's most interesting fictional character.
POLLY BERGEN is his wife, Rhoda, JAN-MICHAEL VINCENT his son in love with ALI MacGRAW. Others in the huge cast include JOHN HOUSEMAN, BEN MURPHY, PETER GRAVES and EDMUND PURDOM, with GUNTER MEISNER doing a fine job as Adolph Hitler and RALPH BELLAMY doing another turn as Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Everything about the production itself is impressive, including the recreation of the era and the wonderful musical score. The story follows the path of war brewing while the Henrys live their everyday lives up until that fateful day in Pearl Harbor.
Absolutely first-rate drama with lots of historical values.
When this series first aired, we didn't have a VCR (this was in the
early 80s before DVDs.) I was bound and determined to tape it the next
time it came on the air. It came on again about four years later. I
still had no VCR. The next year, we got one and the series never came
on again. Recently, I saw it on DVD at Border's and said, "Okay, this
is what I'll get with my bonus." My bonus came. THE WINDS OF WAR DVD
went. To someone else. Before I got my bonus. DAMN!!! I have always
been fascinated by WWII, and I loved the documentary style in
presenting this story. The narration and stock footage they showed
intermixed with a fictional story was what I really liked about this
series and its sequel WAR AND REMEMBRANCE. I also loved Bob Cobert's
haunting musical score. And boy, do I pity the actor(s) who played
Hitler in both movies. They both did an excellent job. I'm wondering if
they get a lot of hate mail for portraying such a despicable human
being. Oh, well. It's a dirty job, but somebody had to do it. And they
did it well.
I like Pug Henry's tough, no nonsense personality. He brings a lot of dignity and toughness to the roll of a frustrated navy captain who spent years trying to advance his career but got caught up in the politics of it all. Rhoda was a first class witch with a capital B. I guess she was true to the times, though. A lot of war time romances went on during that time while hubby was off fighting the good fight. I guess that goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished.
Great series. Now, if I can just get the DVDs. #$%^***!!!!
Following my reading of Herman Wouks'novel, which I thought was marvellous, I was slightly dubious about watching the series because I thought to myself that it was not possible to include all the historical content successfully. I recalled being somewhat disappointed many years ago following my reading of The Cruel Sea - great novel - and subsequent film. I could not wait for War and Remembrance to arrive, and as Mr. Mitchum remarked during the interim years, "they had better hurry up because I ain't getting any younger. Great series, the pair of them. I am not sure if I am allowed to mention this but I do wish that I could buy The Winds of War in a format that was viewable in the UK.
...for anyone who read the book(s) first, the movie is a disappointment, as is often the case. In particular, the miscasting of the major characters was appalling. I read that Robert Mitchum was put into the role because a "big name" was needed. Well, there are many "big names" who would have made this character believable. The Pug Henry of the book was 50ish and virile - Robert Mitchum, while taciturn and upright, just couldn't pull off this role, and it was worse in the sequel, "War and Remembrance". His relationship with Pam Tudsbury was believable and natural in the book, but laughable in the movie. I think Polly Bergen did a fair job, and Jan Michael-Vincent, while too old, was far more believable than Hart Bochner who appears as Briny in the sequel. I notice many of the reviewers criticized Ali McGraw, but I liked her in the role far more than Jane Seymour, who wasn't dark, exotic, or brash enough to play the character in the book. But, all in all, I enjoyed it, I bought it, and I've watched it a couple of times. Not for the faint of heart, or those who like action films. This film takes some time to watch and enjoy.
I loved every moment of it. The character, sets, dialogue were wonderful. I had to watch every episode. I loved Pug and Rhoda Henry who eventhough they loved each other, were growing apart. I loved the Henry kids but thought that they should have showed Byron's brother and sister much more than they did. If you did not see it, watch it. Its a history lesson and and to watch. Finally, I was pleased that Pug had finally gotten what he had always wanted, that was to command a battleship. After everything he had done for the navy, it was well deserved.
....this mini does not get better with age. I saw this and it's sequel
when originally broadcast, and like so many others was blown away. In
early 2002 I borrowed the novels for both WOW and W and R and was even
more impressed. I then decided that I had to see both again and
invested $200 plus on the DVD sets. I watched both minis again in
painful detail and realized I had done things backwards - I should have
purchased the novels and borrowed the DVD's.
Don't believe it is abysmally miscast? Read the novels and see for yourself. Don't think this is dated? Screen it for somebody not old enough to have seen it originally broadcast and watch the reaction you get (warning - reactions from such people range from looks of horror to belly laughs).
According to the trivia section for this mini - Dan Curtis himself chose Ali MacGraw and Robert Mitchum. Yikes!! Production quality, music scoring, dialog - a great story was turned into a late 70's soap opera by an overly ambitious producer/director who was in way over his head. This thing was dated the minute it was completed.
These two minis were great when original broadcast and to those of us who saw them then, tug at a nostalgic string that reminds us of younger days. IMO - this mini does not nearly live up to its reputation and severely disappoints.
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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