American Playhouse (1981– )
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Three Sovereigns for Sarah: Part I 

This is a true story based on transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials. Sarah (Vanessa Redgrave) and her two sisters are put on trial for suspicion of witchcraft. While her sisters are burned ... See full synopsis »


Philip Leacock


Victor Pisano

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Episode credited cast:
Vanessa Redgrave ... Sarah Cloyce
Kim Hunter ... Mary Easty
Will Lyman ... Rev. Parris
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Buffy Baldauf Buffy Baldauf ... Mercy Lewis
Les Barden Les Barden ... Ipswich Jailer
Hamilton Benz Hamilton Benz ... Israel Portor
Barbara Blossom Barbara Blossom ... Lydia
Judy Braha Judy Braha ... Elizabeth Parris
Stacey Caplin Stacey Caplin ... Bette Parris
Christopher Childs Christopher Childs ... Rev. Noyes
Jim Chiros Jim Chiros ... Jailer / Guard
Mara Clark Mara Clark ... 1st Matron
Bijou Clinger Bijou Clinger ... Sarah Good
Bob Colonna Bob Colonna ... Judge Corwin
Shay Duffin ... Judge Hathorne


This is a true story based on transcripts of the Salem Witch Trials. Sarah (Vanessa Redgrave) and her two sisters are put on trial for suspicion of witchcraft. While her sisters are burned at the stake, Sarah is sentanced to a prison term to be served in a box barely large enough for her to lie down in. When she is released, her family name is cleared and all she is given for all she has suffered are three gold sovereigns- coin of the realm at the time.

Abby Williams, the preacher's niece, starts getting into fourtune telling and such illegal activities, as taught to her by the slave Tituba. Other local girls get into it, and then start acting strange. Abby and the girls eventually start to name local people as 'witches' and blame their sicknesses on witchcraft. Hundreds are accused and sent to jail, though there are many who doubt the truth of the accusations. Among these are three sisters, Mary, Rebecca, and Sarah. All are kept in jail for quite some time, until Mary and Rebecca are ...

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Release Date:

27 May 1985 (USA) See more »

Filming Locations:

Boston, Massachusetts, USA See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Patrick McGoohan took over the role of the Chief Magistrate at short notice, to replace 'Mason, James' who died shortly before shooting was scheduled to begin. See more »


Featured in Divine Magic (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Best depiction of the Salem Witchcraft sagas I've seen.
26 July 2000 | by redwood3See all my reviews

I lived in Ipswich, Massachusetts, and received a letter of referral and recommendation from Harvard University to review the original historical documents pertaining to the Salem Witchcraft Trials. I have done extensive research regarding the episodes, and I have visited the original sites documented in the film. Portions of the mini-series were shot at my friend's home in Wenham, MA. (The ropes for the hangings are still hung in my friend's back-yard tree!) Redgrave does an excellent job of portraying a fictional, yet accurate figure who convinces the viewer that the witchcraft trials really had nothing to do with "witchcraft." My house that I lived in is actually featured--and because it was built in 1774, it is more or less historically portrayed. The scenes where Redgrave is imprisoned struck home because the "moors" where she is suffering are cold, horrid, and subject to all sorts of the elements. This is a "movie" (read: mini-series) that has stuck with me for years and years. The lengthy portrayal is not only accurate, but dramatically and cinematographically superb. You won't be disappointed if you view it, and I wouldn't be surprised if you bought the video to keep for your library.

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