1 9 7 6 (UK)
2 x 120 minute episodes
5 x 60 minute episodes
Adapted from Anton Myrer’s best-selling novel, this nine-hour miniseries from NBC followed the lives of two US Army officers from 1918 through to the Second World War. Sam Damon (Sam Elliott), a stolid, stalwart hero with his men’s – and his country’s – best interests at heart, and the glory-grabbing Courtney Massengale (Cliff Potts), are totally opposite in character.
When enlisted Nebraska farm boy Sam leaves for France with the American forces, he has already risen to the rank of sergeant. His leadership qualities are tested under actual combat conditions, and he receives a battlefield commission from Major George Caldwell (Glenn Ford).
During this time, he meets Lt. Courtney Massengale, a West Point graduate who is both ambitious and arrogant. While visiting wounded members of his unit at a field hospital, Sam meets nurse Tommy Caldwell (Darleen Carr), the daughter of Major Caldwell.
At the close of World War I, Sam decides to remain in the army and soon marries Tommy, despite her open opposition to a military lifestyle. It is not long, however, before Sam realises that life in the peacetime Army presents its own specific problems, such as low pay, bad quarters, and a wife still unhappy with the military way of living.
Drawn to a civilian job by the better pay, he discovers a new set of drawbacks.
Ultimately returning to the Army, he is transferred to the Philippines and later to China for a 17-month tour, placing his marriage in even greater jeopardy. In the meantime, Court has married socialite Emily Pawlfrey (Amy Irving) and run into his own marital problems.
When Massengale encounters Sam several years later, the two confront each other as Sam steps forth in defence of an enlisted man accused of striking an officer in a case Massengale is prosecuting.
The inevitable confrontation between (now) General Sam Damon and his ranking general, Courtney Massengale, occurs during the heights of the New Guinea campaign in World War II – against a background of military in-fighting between skilled and dedicated officers and headline-seeking “heroes” far behind the lines – in the two-hour concluding episode.
With his only son Donny (Andrew Stevens) in the Air Force in England, his wife blaming him for the boy’s commitment to the military, and his tactical expertise undercut by the “Glory Boys”, Sam drifts into an affair with an Australian nurse (Juliet Mills).
Appearing elsewhere in the series were Kim Hunter, Ralph Bellamy, Harriet Nelson, and Forrest Tucker.
Tommy Caldwell Damon
Emily Pawlfrey Massengale
Major George Caldwell
Lynda Day George