Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Reviewing An Old TV Series: 'The Winds of War' and 'War and Remembrance' Are World War 2 Sagas Worth Seeing Again

The Henry family from 'The Winds of War.'

Some cast members changed in the sequel 'War and Remembrance'.
Back in the late 1970s I was privileged to work for the publishing house of Simon and Schuster. Located in the heart of New York City across from St. Patrick's Cathedral with side windows overlooking the Rockefeller Center Ice Rink, I was unconsciously living a 'Mad Men' kind of existance (without the booze of course) for the three plus years I worked there.

Besides the prestige of the company and the fancy address, one of the best parts of the job was the accessibility to Simon and Schuster books and their paperback division Pocket Books, where I actually worked. Each month, Pocket Books published about 30 titles, many of them were reprints along with some paperback editions of best-selling novels. Simon and Schuster/Pocket Books had many famous titles: Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the Harold Robbins series, Agatha Christie series, lots of movie tie-ins and a couple of the Watergate tell-all books including 'All The President's Men.' Being a reader with a lot of friends and family who also loved to read, I was pretty popular back then since all of the paperbacks were free to employees.

Herman Wouk
Two favorite books that were published in paperback during my years at Pocket Books was a family saga set before and during World War II. They were written by Herman Wouk noted for many best-selling novels including 'The Caine Mutiny' which won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize. The first book 'The Winds of War' was published in 1971 followed by 'War and Remembrance' in 1978. Both novels were historical fiction following an American Naval family led by the main character Captain Victor 'Pug' Henry.

The novels shift between storytellers: the viewpoint of Captain Henry, a historical account of the events of the war, and a counterpoint by a fictional member of Hitler's military staff, General Armin von Roon. A decade later, the books were made into a highly anticipated and successful ABC TV series. The series won several Golden Globes.

There have been many great World War II books and movies. 'The Pacific', 'The Great Escape', 'The Pianist', 'Saving Private Ryan and 'Schlindler's List' come quickly to mind but none capture the sweeping effects of the war — before, during and after —on this ordinary American family who was the right place at the wrong time. Wouk's thirteen years of research and skillful composition is apparent in the seriousness with which the war both in the Pacific and European theaters are treated. Uncatalogued boxes of his research papers for the novels reside at Columbia University in New York.

When summer comes around and reruns rule the airwaves, my husband and I usually look for a series to satisfy our TV addiction during the hiatus. A couple of years ago we purchased the box set of "The Winds of War'. This year we purchased the sequel 'War and Remembrance'. Not being a qualified critic, I can safely say that there is some seriously bad acting in both parts. I won't name names, you can judge for yourself, but don't let that deter you from giving this memorable saga a try. If you didn't see it back in the 80s, you are in for a real treat but we enjoyed it just as much watching it again.

The books of course are even better. Both books and the multi-part TV mini series are available at Amazon. We went with the VHS tapes to save some money but the series is also available in the DVD format.

(With changes made for War and Remembrance)

Robert Mitchum ... Victor 'Pug' Henry
Ali MacGraw ... Natalie Jastrow (Replaced by Jane Seymour, below right)
Jan-Michael Vincent ... Byron Henry (Replaced by Hart Bochner, below right)
John Houseman ... Aaron Jastrow (He was replaced by John Gielgud)
Polly Bergen ... Rhoda Henry (left)
Lisa Eilbacher ... Madeline Henry (Replaced by Leslie Hope)
David Dukes ... Leslie Slote
Topol ... Berel Jastrow
Ben Murphy ... Warren Henry (Replaced by Michael Woods)
Peter Graves ... Palmer 'Fred' Kirby
Jeremy Kemp ... Brigadier General Armin Von Roon
Ralph Bellamy ... President Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Victoria Tennant ... Pamela Tudsbury
Wolfgang Preiss ... Field Marshal Walter von Brauchitsch
William Woodson ... Narrator
Dragomir Stanojevic-Bata Kameni
G√ľnter Meisner ... Adolf Hitler (Replaced by Stephen Berkoff)
Reinhard Kolldehoff ... Hermann Goering
Werner Kreindl ... Colonel General Franz Halder
Rainer Penkert ... Grand Admiral Erich Raeder
Alexander Kerst ... Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel
Joachim Hansen ... Field Marshal Alfred Jodl
Howard Lang ... Winston Churchill
Anton Diffring ... Joachim von Ribbentrop
Timothy Stack ... Yeoman Ryan
Barry Morse ... Wolf Stoller
Michael Logan ... Alistair Tudsbury (Replaced by Robert Morse)
John Carter ... Colonel William Forrest
Tom McFadden ... Hugh Cleveland
Roy Poole ... Harry Hopkins
Deborah Winters ... Janice Lacouture Henry (Replaced by Sharon Stone)
Joseph Hacker ... Lt. Carter 'Lady' Aster
Allan Cuthbertson ... Major General Tillet
Scott Brady ... Captain Red Tully

Film Errors (from IMDB Website)

  • There is no cliff overlooking Pearl Harbor, as shown in the last scene.
  • The modern maple leaf Canadian flag is seen in scenes shot in London. This flag was adopted in 1965. Prior to that the Red Ensign was the flag of Canada.
  • Throughout the mini-series, set from 1939 - 1941, Captain Henry is shown wearing the Bronze Star Medal on his Navy uniform. The Bronze Star Medal didn't exist until 1944.
  • Graphic near the beginning of Part 6 when President Roosevelt boards the train for Hyde Park New York, lists the location as "Silver Springs, Maryland". The intended city is "Silver Spring, Maryland".
  • The series takes place in the late 1930s. At the horse race in Italy, people are wearing Adidas shoes and 1970s clothing. Most of the women in Warsaw have 1970s and 1980s dresses and hairstyles; only Ali McGraw and other speaking characters are in period clothing. At Warren's wedding, all of the bridesmaids have late '70s/early '80s dresses and feathered hair.
  • When Pug and Pam speak over the telephone in London, Pug's telephone has a modern coiled cord, not a '40's-era straight cord.
  • When Pug and Pam dine at the Savoy, a wine bottle appears on the table and all the wine glasses suddenly fill between shots.
  • As Pug and Palmer talk before dinner, Pug is holding his drink with one hand, then with both between shots; a moment later, Palmer is holding his with his left hand, then suddenly is sipping it, then repeats.
  • When Natalie and Aaron go to the Coliseum, Natalie has her arm under Aaron's, then as Rabinowitz approaches, in a rear shot they're suddenly standing apart.
  • As the U-boats are submerging after the convoy confrontation it is clear that the footage of the subs surfacing was simply used in reverse. You can even see the Wolf Pack Commanders sub submerging while going backwards.
  • When Commander Henry is assigned to convoy duty, he is seen on the bridge with other officers and sailors, all wearing talkers helmets. Only talkers wore them (this type of helmet allows the wearer to use earphones). Everyone else should have been wearing regular helmets.
  • In the final scenes, Capt. Henry drives the 1940 Lincoln Continental up to the non-existent cliff (previous entry) and stops the car on a dirt road with the wheels straight forward. He then gets out of the car. In the last helicopter shot of Henry and the car, the Lincoln is now off the dirt road, in soft soil and the front wheels are turned to the right.
  • BB 62 is identified as the USS Iowa. BB 62 is the USS New Jersey. The USS Iowa is BB 61.
  • Adolf Eichmann never rose above the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the S.S. However, late into the mini-series, his character appears as a full SS-Colonel.
  • While Byron and Pug are standing on the deck of the USS Iowa, the 50-star Navy Jack is seen over Byron's right shoulder instead of the 48-star flag that should have been flying.
  • Torpedoes are fired at 3-4 second intervals, then shown running side by side in the water.
  • When Byron meets Rhoda in Hollywood the sign on the hill overlooking Hollywood should say "Hollywoodland" not simply Hollywood. The 'land' part of the sign wasn't torn down until 1948 or 49.
  • General Arnim von Roon's rank changes up and down throughout the mini-series. In June 1942, the narrator announces him as Major General von Roon. In later episodes in 1944 and 1945 he is demoted to the rank of Brigadier General. No German generals were ever demoted, even when falling out of favor with Hitler.
  • The U.S.S. Northampton, as seen here, has one gun turret forward and two aft; the real Northampton had two turrets forward and one aft.
  • The conning tower structure of the Devilfish, seen in December 1941, did not become standard on U.S. submarines until early to mid-1943.
  • When Byron and Slote walk down the sidewalk in Berlin, the sign on the gray building behind them says Gradska Stedionica (Serbo-Croatian for Municipal Savings Bank), showing the scene was shot in the former Yugoslavia.
  • During the Battle of Britain scenes, Air Chief Marshal Dowding (Head of Fighter Command) is incorrectly referred to twice as 'Air Vice Marshal'. Air Vice Marshal is 2 ranks lower than Air Chief Marshal. However, he is seen wearing correct rank insignia for Air Chief Marshal which is 1 row of broad black/blue braid, and 3 rows of medium black/blue braid around the cuffs of the uniform jacket.
  • During the scene where Captain Henry flies in the RAF bombing raid on Berlin, the aircrew keep calling him 'Admiral' as they were mistakenly told he was an Admiral at the briefing. Even if this had taken place, all officers are addressed as 'Sir' by ranks junior in the RAF. They would have addressed him as 'Sir' not 'Admiral'.
Trivia from IMDB
  • Herman Wouk's script ran 962 pages and contained 1785 scenes. It was shot in 267 locations, in six countries and on two continents, and took 34 months to film and 12 more to edit. There were about 50,000 costumes, and Robert Mitchum alone had 112 changes. When the cameras stopped, producer/director Dan Curtis had one million feet (185 hours) of film, which he cut down to 81000 feet. That was about 15 hours of air time (minus commercials).
  • The bombing of Pearl Harbor was shot at a naval base in Port Hueneme, California, and the navy only allowed four days of filming
  • The attack on Pearl Harbor sequence began filming on December 7 - the anniversary of the actual historical attack.
  • Robert Mitchum and Ali MacGraw were considered too old for their respective parts by many fans of the books and production executives, but director and producer Dan Curtis insisted on their being cast.
  • A federal jury in Los Angeles decided on 3 June 1991 that the "Winds of War" theme had actually been plagiarized from John Woodbridge, a professor of history at the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois, who had filed suit in 1986 claiming the theme was actually a song called "Sans Vous" ("Without You"), which he had composed in 1965.
  • Barry Morse, Michael McGuire,Sky Dumont, and actress/producer Barbara Steele Heinz Weiss and Leo Gordon would all return for the sequel, 'War and Remembrance (1988)', but in different roles.
  • Logan Ramsey who played isolationist Senator Ike Lacouture and Warren Henry's father-in-law, is actually Logan Ramsey, the son of Logan Ramsey Sr. who sent out one of the more famous messages in history: "Air raid Pearl Harbor. This is no drill".
  • At the time it was made, this was the most expensive television production ever mounted at a cost of US$40 million.
  • Television acting debut for 'Ali Macgraw'.
  • According to the book 'Movies Made For Television' by Alvin H. Marill, this production was filmed in over 400 filming locations over thirteen months. The book also states that this mini-series was originally intended to run for twelve hours instead of sixteen.
  • Television acting debut for Robert Mitchum. 
  • Ralph Bellamy plays Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) in this production. Bellamy had played FDR twenty-two years prior to this mini-series in the film Sunrise at Campobello and in the stage version winning Broadway's 1958 Tony Award as Best Actor (Dramatic). Later, Bellamy would reprise his role as FDR in this mini-series' sequel,War and Remembrance.
  • Costing over $110 million, it was, at the time, the most expensive mini-series ever.
  • Steven Berkoff, who played Adolf Hitler, is Jewish.
  • Paramount, who financed 'The (1983) Winds of War', passed on financing this sequel, so ABC paid for it.
  • When the series was shown on the ITV network in the UK in the late-1980s, several of the graphic concentration camp scenes were shown out of sequence. This was to ensure they were transmitted after the 9.00pm "watershed". There is an unwritten rule that potentially "offensive" images are never shown before this time.
  • John Gielgud takes over the role of Aaron Jastrow from John Houseman. Gielgud was one of several actors who passed on the role of the law professor in The Paper Chase before Houseman was cast.
  • Sir John Gielgud worked 8 months on this project.
  • The scenes at Hitler's Reich Chancellery in Berlin were actually shot in and around the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.
  • E.G. Marshall previously played General Dwight D. Eisenhower in Ike. This is also his second time in a Herman Wouk adaptation. He previously played the prosecutor in The Caine Mutiny.

Check out a Facebook page dedicated to 'Winds of War' fans!

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