The Blue and the Gray (TV Mini-Series 1982– ) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
26 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
An epic TV mini worth remembering
Snatchy23 April 1999
I first saw this mini-series while in 5th grade history class as part of our studies on the Civil War, and I thought it was excellent. Many years later, I watched it again after finding a copy of the unabridged version (all 6+ hours of it!). I wasn't sure how it would stand the test of time (both as a 16 year old production and my own view of it, being 16 years older now) and braced myself for disappointment; however, I was very pleasantly surprised. The movie is as well done as I remembered it.

It's an engrossing movie that gives an honest, frank look at the inherent moral ambiguity of war, as well as the additional consequences of the Civil War, where "brother fought brother". Although the movie certainly takes dramatic license (the main character, a young Southerner who relocates to the north after becoming disillusioned with the cruel treatment of slaves, ends up stumbling across his staunchly pro-Confederate siblings as if they're all wandering around in the same town instead of an entire country!), you can see that the film makers took great pains to portray as many perspectives as possible, to show that each and every person involved in the war was human, with their own thoughts and feelings. I'm certainly no Civil War expert, but I thought it was a very balanced portrait. What's more amazing is that the mini rarely drags despite sometimes taking a leisurely pace during its 6 hour run-time. Although we all know how the movie with ultimately end, it keeps you interested in the lives of all the characters it introduces. I thought Stacy Keach did a particularly good job despite a few hammy lines. This mini-series should definitely be on any must-see list of war films.
27 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
completely captivating
oddchick10421 March 2004
This is such a good movie mainly due to the lack of bias and multiple story lines which keep you hooked throughout the extensive length of the film. I thought that the film was, although of course not the greastest of civil war films, it definitely desearves nothing but good reviews. I saw this movie when i was visiting Utah with family and i had to live in a trailer with my brother and his friend for a few days and all we had was a DVD player and a few movies and some paper and pens. So when we finally decided to watch what seemed like a boring war movie...we never wanted to leave the trailer. Even when invited to go horse-back riding by some neighborhood girls whom my brother had been eyeing. the movie was completely captivating. Everyone should definitely see The Blue and the Gray at LEAST once.
23 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Focus on family, not the war.
fkerr5 August 2004
`The Blue and The Gray' is not a story about the Civil War. It is a long drama about a family set at the time of that war. Running more than six hours, it is indeed long. Yet, anyone interested in human relationships will find that the time is well spent and that no dead points exist. The snippets of the Civil War form a focus for the story and explain some of the relationship issues. They also remind the viewer what a truly difficult time it was for families and for our nation.
19 out of 21 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
excellent portrayal of the horrors of war
helpless_dancer12 March 1999
This was a very good film about the Civil War. It showed the mindset of people living in the south during that era; how they were swayed into entering a futile and dangerous undertaking. The agony of war was shown at its worst, depicting the loss of the combatants as well as bystanders. Any war is horrible, but the war between the states is more so because of its utter uselessness. The waste of life and material should never have been allowed to happen. I recommend this movie; the action sequences are dramatic and well done, however, I felt some of the scenes seemed a bit underpopulated.
12 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
Dramatic romp through the Civil War years
cooncat13 January 2008
As others have mentioned, this is a series of recollections of events which may (or may not) have occurred during the American Civil War. It is related from the point of view of a 'neutral' war correspondent, who's talent is for drawing sketches of what he has seen on various battle fields, from Bull Run to Appomattox Ct. House. There is considerable 'time jumping' from one period of the war, to another, which inhibits continuity to some extent. For me the best part of the mini-series was watching Gregory Peck (as Abraham Lincoln) deliver the Gettysburg address. However, we are thrown into that scene without adequate preamble, so even this is diminished from what it could have been.

I am quite an avid amateur Civil War historian, having read many books and watched many TV series (including the excellent PBS series by Ken Burns, and the complete 3 volume set of books on the Civil War by historian Shelby Foote) on the subject. If you are looking for historical accuracy you will be disappointed. If you, on the other hand, are simply looking for a decent dramatization (ala "Gone With the Wind), you will enjoy this series.

The acting by the cast was, in general, C+, with the exception of a few of the notables (Gregory Peck, for one). As my summary states, this is a dramatic romp, so if you keep that in mind and set your sites correspondingly on the low side, you will not be disappointed.
10 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Brother Against Brother
bkoganbing24 April 2010
Back in the early Sixties there was a short lived television series called The Americans about two brothers who after their father was killed decided to fight on opposite sides in the Civil War. The whole business about brother against brother was no exaggeration. Right up to the very top with Mary Todd Lincoln having relatives who fought for the Confederacy, families were torn apart. The Blue And The Gray brings that aspect of the Civil War better than any other film made for the big or small screen since The Americans.

The families are the Geysers and the Hales related by the mothers, Diane Baker and Colleen Dewhurst being sisters. The Hales are from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and the Geysers from what would now be West Virginia in and around Harper's Ferry and that's not even 100 miles distance. But the families are true to the sectional divide.

With the exception of John Geyser played by John Hammond who has made a black friend, a free man played by Paul Winfield who gets lynched for helping runaway slaves. He won't fight for a section that espouses slavery as a cause, but won't enlist in the Northern Armies either. A passing acquaintance played by Stacy Keach who gets himself involved in a lot of the major events of the war and married into the Hale family with Julia Duffy persuades Hammond to become a war correspondent and put his artistic talents to good use. Hammond becomes a pictorial chronicler of the seminal event of his generation.

Without ever losing control of the main story lines, what happens to the various Geyser and Hale family members, The Blue And The Gray captures the sweep and pageantry of the Civil War. Such real characters as Abraham Lincoln played by Gregory Peck and John Brown played by Sterling Hayden in what was his farewell performance do take a life of their own. With Peck we see a public and a private Lincoln which is true to the Lincoln mythology and yet quite a human character.

If I had to single out one performance that was especially touching it would be that of David W. Harper as one of the Hale brothers. The young man was eager to be the first to enlist in his town of Gettysburg, but he never made it to the battle that town became famous for. A not well covered portion of the war was the lack of sanitary facilities in army camps. Young Harper falls victim to dysentery and his performance will move you.

A few years later North and South covered a lot of the same ground that this particular mini-series did and it was as well done as The Blue And The Gray. I would recommend them both highly especially for young audiences to gain a real understanding of what the Civil War meant to the average individual/
6 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
A good if somewhat uneven miniseries
antelope-315 November 2000
This miniseries shows the war primarily through the eyes of a Virginian who wants to witness history but cannot commit to either side of the conflict. His new-found profession of journalism allows him to participate as a neutral observer. He is surrounded by relatives and friends on both sides, and the miniseries shows events through their eyes as well.

The human side of the war is stressed, and it excellently portrays the toll the conflict took on families.

Many of the subplots are taken from Civil War historian Bruce Catton's final work, "Reflections On The Civil War." However, none of the people in the book, including the real John Geyser, appear in the miniseries. Rather, observations made in the book are woven around the main storyline as supplementary material.

Most of the military aspects of the miniseries are laughable and bear little resemblance to reality. Due to the miniseries being done on a miniseries budget we see none of the grand scale evident in "Gettysburg" or "Glory."

Stacy Keach gives a terrific performance as Jonas Steele, the Federal special operations agent. We see from his performance a little of the decentralized, more personalized ways in which intelligence gathering and other non-standard military operations were conducted in the nineteenth century.

The miniseries ran for over six hours on CBS in 1982, but well over an hour was cut for the two-cassette video release. Get the whole treatment if you can.
15 out of 18 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
I enjoyed the Film
mrc976724 July 2003
I did not see this movie when it was shown as a mini-series.I happened to like this movie because it gave a simple portrayal of what it might have been like to be a family during this period and having to face the problem of a family that was divided in its loyalties . I thought the makers of this movie followed the history of the period and gave a good presentation of the issues that the people had to deal with at the time. Of course it cannot compare to the recent Civil War Movies or even the Ken Burns series . Given the time that it was made I think it was a good portrayal of the period.

My only fault with the movie was the fact that it seemed to put the fall of Vicksburg after the Gettysburg Address. I did not understand how this was allowed to happen given the fact that it seemed to be based on Bruce Catton's work. Can anyone explain this?
9 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
Believable characters in the best Civil War movie ever.
clperry4 September 2001
I first saw this film when it was televised in 1982. My family taped it at that time and it remains one of our favorite films. Even with its' six-hour length, it flows well and I never find myself becoming bored while watching. The best aspect of the movie is the characters, who seem real to us. It shows how families, North and South, were affected in a profound way by the Civil War. Every time we watch The Blue and the Gray, it is easy to develop feelings for the characters, who could almost be members of our own family. It is this humanistic feature rather than dwelling on the intricacies of the battles themselves which makes this film great viewing, even for those who aren't "into" war movies.
14 out of 17 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
great quasi historical movie
newtondunbar10 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Eminently watchable and very much a film that delivers the 'feeling of the times'. This gets at what professional historians say that any historical works needs - i.e. a sense of 'what it was like'. As to the accuracy of historical details that some of your commentators complain about, I cannot say as I am not a military expert. Good cast and good acting all of which adds up to a very presentable dramatic view of the Civil War. The only (pleasant) distraction for me was John Hammond who is so good looking that one wonders if anyone alive in those days could have been such a beautiful, clean cut 'All American' male. When you see old Civil War photos, most of the males, even the young ones, seem 'scruffy' and worn out before their time.
5 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
not the best civil war movie--but not the worst either
TexasRedge4 May 2002
I remember my high school history teacher making us watch this in class my freshmen year of high school....at that time in my life I could've cared less about seeing this film. many - many years later I watched this again. and I liked it, in fact I cannot remeber why I was unable to get interested in this film the first time I seen it(I was probably too young to enjoy a long drama back then).but although I have seen some civil war movies that blow this one away. it is very much worth watching.---its funny to see this film now because this films cast looks like an episode of "where are they now?" this music score is fair , the costumes are good(same as any other civil war movie)...but Ouch, but I kept noticing that all the actors have early 1980's post disco era hair styles rather than 1860's hair styles and the hair styles cause this film to look dated. I found it interesting that the 4 brother this film is about are named after the 1st 4 books in the new testiment of the bible(Mathew,Mark,Luke and John -I failed to notice that the 1st time i seen this film)This is not the best Civil War Movie(that honor goes to "Gettysburg"), but its not the worst civil war movie either(that honor/shame goes to "The Rose and the Jackail")I give this film 3 out of 5 stars.. see this film at least once,and if you give it a chance it will entertain you
10 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Totally engrossing, well acted and beautifully photographed...
Doylenf7 April 2010
I'm not going to nitpick this film because the wrong number of buttons are on a Civil War jacket nor am I going to criticize the fact that certain battles are presented out of chronological sequence, as some others have already pointed out.

But taken as a Civil War drama, THE BLUE AND THE GRAY ranks with the very best movies made about this era of American history and all of the performances are splendid. The human drama, both on the home front before the war and during the various battles, is portrayed very realistically, as are the graphic battle scenes.

The cast assembled does a wonderful job with characters that come alive. GREGORY PECK does well as Abraham Lincoln, although his make-up is a bit disconcerting and he was a bit too mature to play the role in the first place. But STACY KEACH and JOHN HAMMOND carry much of the film as the two leading characters who witness various aspects of the Civil War, seen through their eyes and experiences, and they are excellent.

The supporting cast includes vivid performances from LLOYD BRIDGES, COLLEEN DEWHURST, RORY CALHOUN, GERALDINE PAGE, RIP TORN, STERLING HAYDEN, DIANE BAKER. BRIAN KERWIN is excellent as the Hale brother facing battle for the first time, and the sequence with the balloon to observe the enemy from the air is full of tight suspense.

It may not be a perfect history lesson, but it is photographed beautifully in color (all of it filmed in Arkansas), has a fine musical score and is well worth the time it takes to unwind a very compelling story with characters any viewer can relate to.

I consider it one of the finest made-for-TV miniseries ever made.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Hard To Swallow, but Easy Once It Goes Down
ashngl17515 June 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In the eighth grade, (which was this past year for me), we take a field trip to Gettysburg, and before we do... we have to watch the Blue and Gray. Now, don't get me wrong- at the very beginning--- I was bored out of my mind- but after I got into it--- I loved it! I loved it so much I even stayed in the Histry Room during my free period to watch the end ahead of the class. I am good in history, and this movie was truly exceptional. At times, I thought of closing my eyes, and at other times- I could hardly stay on my seat. This movie made me think of how lucky I am to live in a world of freedom, and without the conditions like they had in those days.

-------However-------

Just a bit of a warning... some parts in this movie are not for the weak at heart... or stomach for that matter. Two scenes in particular I found hard to swallow were The branding scene and the scene where Jonas and Malachai discover Mooney murdered, and staked to a tree...

Although the hard scenes, and length of the movie- I still loved it and would recommend it to anyone!
8 out of 11 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
6/10
OK Story. Could have been more realistic like Gettysburg
nysw25222 December 2004
The Blue and the Grey had a great plot and I really enjoyed this mini series. It showed the horrors of war and showed how some families were broken up by the conflict where in real life brother fought brother. I only wish that the Blue and the Grey could have been more realistic like Gettysburg. The uniforms used in this film are just too generic and too "Hollywood" unlike Gettysburg where the uniforms look authentic. I also dislike the over dubbing of the rifles and cannon that was so common until the last 15 years or so that seems so fake in comparison to Gettysburg. The battle scenes have a lot of action but there just seems to be too few people fighting the battle. Gettysburg on the other hand had plenty of extras; almost all of them Civil War reenactors, making the battle scenes more realistic. Perhaps if the producers of The Blue and the Grey had used reenactors they could have had better battle scenes and the mini series would have been more realistic.
8 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Its not the greatest, but it does have its own place
StLouisAssassin27 August 2006
I never saw roots, I never saw the Thorn birds, I never saw SHOGUN ... nope ...This was the first ever mini series I watched in my life. It and was the first ever Civil War movie I ever watched in my life. I man did I pick a great first one to watch.

I am 37 years old now, and to this day I still own a copy of the 3 disc DVD set. I get it out at least once a year and watch it. And I still love it to this day. Yes, I have seen better mini-series since then(Lonesome Dove, Horatio Hornblower)...and I've even seen better Civil War movies (Gettysburg, Glory) but this movie still holds a very special place in my heart When I go back and watch this film, I am amazed at how well it has held up against the test of time. (sure the sounds effects aren't up to par with today's super bass driven home theater sound systems) – But the rest of the movie has held up superbly.

And in the years that have passed, I eventually did go back and watch Roots.... Although I still haven't seen the Thorn birds (don't really think I want too though) I am saddened by the fact that there aren't more films like this one being produced these days.

I really recommend this movie to anyone who like Long drawn out storyline (and there is nothing wrong with that) Good battle scenes. My only complaint is that I wish the producers would go back and remaster the sound quality
6 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
9/10
Still Good Impressions Remain
denis88821 November 2012
Cannot believe I never heard of theses mini-series before. But recently, have gotten the complete longer version and watched it all in several takes. Yes, I agree with many of the decent critics about this film. That was the 1982, and yes, if you compare The Blues & The Gray with mighty grandeur of Glory, Gettysburg or Gods & Generals, you will have to admit that the serial suffers all the typical problems. True, the lack of budget is obvious, and it is obvious that there had to be more soldiers on both sides in all shown battle scenes, same may be said about scenes depicting camps or cities. True, some lines of actors are hammy, and some actors simply played not well enough. Yes, sometimes you pay attention to obvious goofs and anachronisms concerning rifles, uniforms, or other minutiae. But still, good impressions remain. Stacey Keach, great late Gregory Peck, John Hammomd, Cooper Huckabee and many many others did a very decent job. The serial captivates and holds you all 7 hours. The love line is of great success, and some mild humor (in scenes with John and Kathy) make it more valuable. Both sides of the war are shown with certain warmth and sympathy, there are heroes, cowards, villains, traitors, real giants on both sides. My personal grade goes to Gregory Peck as Lincoln, Lloyd Bridges, Cooper Huckabee, Sterling Hayden (excellent part of the film!), Rip Torn, Royce Applegate (who will shine soon in Gettysburg), and Julius Harris. To my mind, there are several powerful scened in the serial, but one which is Truly outstanding and mighty is the conversation between John Geyser and a group of black runaways. This scene is a huge success and a moving tribute to those who fought for Liberation. I highly recommend this film
2 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
Sprawling
jjnxn-110 May 2013
Sprawling miniseries with the wise choice of using a sketch artist as its focal point with sympathies on both sides. Having someone who isn't fighting for one side or the other allows both sides to be presented without one being dominant. John Hammond is fine in the lead but not so strong that he pulls the focus off the story. An amazing cast cycles through the story without most given enough time to really register, it's a shame but with a canvas this large unavoidable. All are fine but a few do manage to make an impression, Gregory Peck is perfectly cast as Abe Lincoln, strong and dignified. Colleen Dewhurst and Diane Baker are an interesting contrast as sisters, although they never share a scene, one a southern farm woman the other a northern homemaker but perhaps the one performer who makes the most of her few scenes is Geraldine Page as a southerner trapped in a war zone who has adapted to survive but still retains her ladylike demeanor. In just three scenes she creates a character that the viewer fully understands. For history buffs or fans of epic scale storytelling this is a must.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
New Vision to and Old Tale
kyspatz9 December 2009
The Blue and the Gray took an already exhausted topic and gave it a new spin. The idea of one brother torn between two sides of a conflict it intriguing on any level but to add the turmoil of a country split in two add to the pull of this film.

Despite the lack of big name actors present in this film the acting is wonderful. Given the right amount of publicity and introduction the blue and the gray could become one of the nations leading civil war films.

The Blue and the Gray does not in any way compare visually to films like Gettysburg and Gods and Generals but the plot and characters make up for the lack of that big budget film feel.
3 out of 4 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Very 1980's, but entertaining.
cmh1701a2 April 2004
This mini-series was released around the same time as " George Washington" starring Barry Bostwick. This mini-series is very 1980's in plot and like most programs of that era, over dramatic. Stacy Keach does a good job playing a Union officer who loses his wife and falls in love with a nurse who saves his life, but most of the performances are cliched and the costumes are not authentic. The battle scenes are well done and the final battle at the farm house plays out better than most television shows still today. The all-star cast seems to have difficulty nailing the accents of the period. Over all this film is strickly for either 80's pop culture students or Civil War buffs and they might snicker at the late great Gregory Peck's Lincoln. If you are looking for a more authentic film check out "Glory".

cmh1701a
8 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
7/10
Quality made-for-TV overview of the Civil War
Wuchakk21 June 2017
Released in 1982 and directed by Andrew V. McLaglen, "The Blue and the Gray" covers the Civil War era from 1859-1865 focusing on two related families: The Geysers, farmers from Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Hales from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, who own a newspaper. John Geyser (John Hammond) leaves Virginia to get a job as a sketch artist at the Hale's newspaper in Gettysburg. When war breaks out after the Southern states secede from the Union, John covers the war for Harper's Weekly.

MAIN CAST includes Stacy Keach as a Pinkerton-turned-Union-officer who romances John's cousin (Julia Duffy); Gregory Peck as Lincoln; Kathleen Beller as an aristocrat-turned-nurse; Dan Shor & Michael Horton as John's brother; Rip Torn as General Grant; and Lloyd Bridges & Colleen Dewhurst as Mr. and Mrs. Geyser. These are just the principle characters; there are scores of others (Robert Vaughn, Geraldine Page, Warren Oates, Robert Symonds, etc.).

I prefer "The Blue and the Gray" to the similar "North and South" (Books I & II, 1985-86) because it's more streamlined and less soap opera-y. Director McLaglen had decades of experience by this this time with both TV shows and films, including a few notable Westerns, like "Bandolero!" (1968) and "Chisum" (1970); in fact, his "Shenandoah" (1965) was a Civil War 'Western.'

The first half is great, but the second half flounders a bit and includes some cheesy plot gimmicks, like the mad slasher Confederate officer and John mistaking his babe (the nurse) supposedly making out with the Union stud (Keach). The 'floundering' includes some abrupt shifts, like from the Battle of Vicksburg (July, 1863) to the Battle of the Wilderness (May, 1864), which can likely be explained by cuts from the original mini-series. If you watch the longer version you probably won't encounter this problem.

What I like best about this "miniseries" (i.e. long movie) is that, despite some elements of TV-production cheese (e.g. the two Union & Confederate deserters' almost goofy meeting in the woods), the film takes you back in time to the Civil War era and provides a quality picture of what it was like.

Some of the notable events covered include: The Battle of Bull Run, Army camp life, dysentery in the camps, cowards in battle and the branding thereof, balloon reconnaissance, fraternizing with the enemy after hours, brother vs. brother, the Gettysburg Address, the siege of Vicksburg and the desperation thereof (e.g. the Caves), prisoner-of-war camps (Elmira), Lee's surrender and Lincoln's death. Yes, some key events are off-screen (e.g. the Battle of Gettysburg and Lincoln getting shot), but that's the nature of the beast with a TV-budget and an overview-styled story. Lastly, Keach shines as one of the main protagonists, easily one of his best rolls, and Duffy is a delight.

The film runs 296 minutes (4 minutes shy of 5 hours), with the original 3-part miniseries running 381 minutes. It was shot entirely in Arkansas (Fort Smith, Eureka Springs, Fayetteville, Van Buren & Prairie Grove Battlefield State Park). The script was written by John Leekley & Ian McLellan Hunter based on Bruce Catton's material.

GRADE: B
1 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
1/10
Seen it all
goddancredmond4 November 2006
Every cliché' in the book is used. And, worse, far more than once. If you can't guess what's going to happen in a particular scene then you haven't watched many if any movies.

A far better soap opera on the Civil War is "North and South". You will find far better acting as well as a better and more believable story line.

What's really a shame is that there is some very good talent in the mini series that is completely wasted. Even the scene when the Gettysburg Address is given is vastly overblown and forced.

That scene is indicative of the series taken as a whole. Instead of being understated as the original speech was, it and the series take on the tone of Edward Everett, the speaker who was just before Lincoln.

Edward Everett's saving grace is that his speech was only some 2 1/2 hours long. The mini-series is 7 1/2 hours in length, though it seems much, much longer.

Lincoln's famous 300 words than didn't even take 3 minutes to recite.
3 out of 10 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A portrait of an age. Not the Civil War of the 1860's though
DDICARLO-112 February 2003
"The Blue & the Gray" is truly a portrait of an age. Unfortunately that portrait is not the American Civil War of the 1860s, but the Mini-series boom of the 1980s. Starting in the late 1970s with David L. Wolper's (that guy was everywhere) "Roots" based on Alex Haley's book. He actually followed it up about two years later with "Roots, The Next Generation". Not too many people remember that latter one. In their day they sparked a huge national discussion and garnered impressive ratings. Having recently seen them again, I can say that they don't really stand the test of time. Most of the Mini-series' of the those days don't I'm sorry to say. "The Thorn Birds", "Marco Polo", "Centennial" , "The Winds of War" and the biggest budgeted one of them all "Shogun". They really were not very good, and "The Blue & the Gray" is no exception. It had all the formulaic makings of an 80's mini, romance, intrigue, comical capers, battles etc. The story is truly awful and claimed at the time to be based on the writings of Historian Bruce Catton. This was meant to lend an air of dignity to what was otherwise junk. I wouldn't even call it loosley based.

The budget for tB&tG was obviously not very much. I can't even say they did allot with a little. They did a little with a little is more like it. Try as they did to bring their sweeping story to the screen, they ended up giving the impression that the civil war was fought by 50 men (25 per side). I will concede that this was an era that preceded a special effects explosion, and today a screen can be populated by thousands of digitally animated clones. Not so in 1982. The horrors of war are not exactly horrible in tB&tG save for the occasional trickle of blood on the forehead of an extra. Speaking of extras, tB&tG is interesting in that it was one of the last productions to make use of extras wearing classic Hollywood Civil War costumes (I can't rightly call them uniforms). There was some fanfare at the time that the production had made limited use of Civil War Reenactors. These guys are all over movies today but in 1982 they (and their hobby) were oddities. Ironically because the production made limited use of reenactors they were able to focus on relatively young and trim extras. Funny how the guys with the right age and build ended up wearing the cheesey costumes and the fat old guys wore the authentic stuff!!! tB&tG also featured the classic remote controlled fibre glass cannons of the John Wayne era and very un-civil war breechloading rifles. I say all this because authenticity standards were soon to go through a massive overhaul. Even a couple of years later with the equally awful "North & South" Mini, things were changing. By 1989 (7 years later)one could see that "Glory" was such a far cry from all previous Civil War movies. So as a curious example of 'Hollywood in transition' tB&tG is an interesting and anomalisitc piece of work. I should mention that (in most cases) the acting is quite bad. Did that John Hammond guy ever work again??? Stacy Keach's 19th century James Bond act was annoying . I really hate the fact that he and his little war correspondent buddy seem to be present at every historical and pivotal moment of the war regardless of the fact that some of these incidents occurd hundereds or thousands of miles apart (jet powered horses I suppose). The affected southern accents by all those supporting actors are truly laughable. The cast featured some great actors doing mediocre work(Sterling Heyden, Coleen Dewhurst, Geraldine Page, Rip Torn, and Gregory Peck). Gregory Peck as Lincoln was the only bright spot in the cast. A PBS series on Lincoln staring Peck would have been great!!! It's a shame such a good performance was wasted on such a stupid story.
4 out of 16 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Oh Good God No!!!
CBlodg26 March 2004
The first time I saw this mini-series I actually liked it. That was several years ago, way before I became a Civil war Re-enactor.

When I started the hobby I saw the series again. And I laughed sooooo very hard. The uniforms are laughable. Union soldiers did not EVER wear 5 button sack coats, they only had four.

And the guy who plays Jamason needed to realize that this was not a western!!! The sword belts are worn around the sash not at your hips!!

The kid who is drawing pictures of these battles really makes it around!! In the early part of the film he draws a famous picture of bones being exumed after a battle. This picture is supposed to be after 2nd Manassas, when in actuality it was at Cold Harbor, which was faught two years later.

Awful movie, would never suggest it to anyone.
3 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
An Epic TV Retelling Of A Most Divisive War
virek2136 May 2015
America's existence, as a beacon for freedom and democracy around the world, has often seemed to be (and frequently is, in reality) a work in progress. Nowhere is that better illustrated in the event that is oftentimes known as the War Between The States (North and South), but generally known as the Civil War. A bitter war fought largely over the question of whether it was right to keep anyone, especially those of African descent, as slaves, the war almost eviscerated the country during four long bloody year, from 1861 to 1865. It was only when the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation became law that the war ended, as too did slavery, and the long march toward full civil rights had really begun. This was the subject for the epic 3-part miniseries THE BLUE AND THE GRAY, which aired on CBS on November 14, 16, and 17, 1982.

The principal focus is on two families: the Geysers, a farm family from Charlottesville, Virginia who have no prurient interest in the issue of slavery that is essentially fueling the war but are sympathetic to the South; and the Hales, who are owners of a small newspaper in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and anti-slavery/pro-Union. They become a microcosm of this long, costly, bloody war that nearly destroyed America before it could even reach its 90th year of existence as a country; and even in the Geyser family, there is a schism. Both families, though, do reunite after the end of the war, but not before the war more or less claims its last victim in President Abraham Lincoln, when John Wilkes Booth guns him down at Ford's Theatre.

In the meantime, the Civil War is re-enacted, under the bounds of what could be shown on television, with a fair amount of pain and horror without an over-reliance of melodrama, but with solid acting by a huge cast of great people, including Stacy Keach; Colleen Dewhurst; Lloyd Bridges; Warren Oates (in one of his last roles, as Major Welles); Sterling Hayden (as John Brown); Rip Torn (as General Ulysses S. Grant); Robert Vaughn; Paul Winfield; Julius Harris; Diane Baker; Rory Calhoun; and, last but not least, Gregory Peck, in his first-ever dramatic TV appearance, as Lincoln. All of this is brilliantly bought together by veteran director Andrew V. McLaglen, who had done the Civil War in fictional form prior to this, in the form of 1969's THE UNDEFEATED (with John Wayne), and 1965's SHENANDOAH (with James Stewart).

Even in the restrictive confines of TV, and even when compared to later films on the subject like GETTYSBURG and LINCOLN, THE BLUE AND THE GRAY does very little skimping over what war in general, and this singular war in particular, does to people not only on both sides of the battle lines but also to those innocents caught in the middle. And despite its extreme length, of close to six and a half hours, this is still one of the best miniseries ever produced in TV history. It should be watched by anyone serious in understanding our nation's history in general, and the Civil War in particular, and is essential just for anyone still interested in historically based storytelling, small screen or otherwise.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Pretty Bad
twhiteson2 April 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"The Blue and The Gray" was a TV miniseries that premiered on CBS in late 1982.

Allegedly inspired by the works of famed Civil War historian, Bruce Catton, "The Blue and The Gray" follows the fates of two related families, the Geysers of Virginia and the Hales of Pennsylvania, during the American Civil War. The story starts in the aftermath of John Brown's (Sterling Hayden) failed slave uprising and ends with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln (Gregory Peck.) In between, we see various members of the Geyser and Hale families experience army life, battles, death, privation, and prisoner-of-war camps.

The main focus is on the third of four Geyser brothers, John (John Hammond), a budding artist who finds a career as a combat illustrator for a northern paper. Despite his three brothers eagerly joining the Confederate Army, John views himself as a "neutral" observer and refuses to join the fight leading to considerable friction with his family. As a neutral observer, John acts as a sort of "Zelig" for the rest of the series: romancing a senator's daughter, witnessing the battles of Bull Run, Vicksburg, and the Wilderness, and hobnobbing with the political elites such as President Lincoln due to his being the cousin-in-law of one of Lincoln's military aides (Stacy Keach.)

"The Blue and the Gray" was unfortunately directed by Andrew V. McLaglen who owed his career to nepotism rather than any talent. (He's the son of Oscar wining actor, Victor McLaglen.) McLaglen's "paint-by-the-numbers" style does little to help this miniseries. The best thing one can say about McLaglen is that he was "competent," but he was more of a plodding mediocrity whose career ended when his father's connections and friends died-off or retired (John Ford, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart, Lee Marvin...)

McLaglen also wasn't helped by the awful casting of John Hammond as "John Geyser." Mr. Hammond was not much of an actor and that is very evident by his performance here. It also didn't help that he was simply overwhelmed by the very talented supporting actors that surrounded him. He's bad by himself, but he's just plain awful when seen next to Hayden, Peck, Bridges, Keach, Colleen Dewhurst, and Geraldine Page. Hammond is on better ground when he's sharing screen time with his character's romantic interest, "Kathy Reynolds" (Kathleen Beller), because she was just as untalented as he was. It's no surprise that both Hammond's and Beller's careers fizzled-out by the early 90's. They were both good looking, but neither had any business being given large roles in this miniseries.

People interested in Civil War combat should avoid "The Blue and The Gray." The uniforms and military equipment appeared to have been recycled from McLaglen's soapy 1965 Civil War melodrama "Shenandoah" which had its Rebs and Yanks decked-out in "uniforms" that look like a 1960's Halloween costuming company's idea of Civil War uniforms. Plus, the combat scenes look like something out of the 1960's WWII TV show "Combat:" lots of indirect artillery fire going-off and the "sarge" leading his "squad." The people behind this miniseries had little or no interest in trying to recreate any resemblance to actual Civil War combat.

Overall, "The Blue and the Gray" has some interesting story lines and nice acting by some of the supporting actors, but it is done in by pedestrian direction, atrocious acting by its two "leads," and a failure to adhere to any sort of historical reality when it comes to its battle scenes.
0 out of 1 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed