1 9 8 3 (USA)
1 x 240 minute episode
7 x 120 minute episodes
This enormously long drama series from ABC followed the life of Captain Victor ‘Pug’ Henry – a US Naval attaché in Europe during the early years of WWII.
The $26 million version of Herman Wouk’s story had more trailers than a caravan park and was pretty much panned on its release.
It wasn’t in truth so terrible, but the ABC publicity department made the elementary mistake of a hype that could not be reached.
Robert Mitchum was physically magnetic as Pug and delivered his lines as though speaking into a tannoy. The exceptionally old navy man travelled around Europe, met Churchill, Hitler and Roosevelt, said what a man had to say, and won the Second World War.
On the way, there were problems from his gee-whizz wife, a ‘poetic’ son called Byron, nutty Natalie (Ali McGraw), a Jewess who decided to go to Poland just as the Nazis invaded, and plucky Pam (Victoria Tennant), the English rose who tried to bowl Pug over. Big, triangular men like Mitchum don’t bowl that easy though. Mitchum moved as if on castors . . .
The series ended halfway through the book, with Pug up on a hill at Pearl Harbor.
A bigger (29 hours) and more costly sequel was made in 1989 – 1990, called War And Remembrance. This sequel followed Henry and his clan’s fortunes in WWII, from 1941 to 1945 – with the help of 44,000 other actors.
Some of the actors who had appeared in The Winds of War were unavailable for the sequel (or had grown too old to fit their parts) and so Jane Seymour replaced Ali McGraw as Natalie, Hart Bochner substituted for Jan-Michael Vincent as Natalie’s husband, Byron, and Sir John Gielgud replaced John Houseman as Aaron Jastrow.
Unfortunately, here the ‘Allo ‘Allo factor kicked in with Anglo-American actors reduced to ever-sillier foreign accents.
The exception was John Gielgud as a Theresienstadt concentration camp elder, who opted for Shakespearean quavers.
Capt Victor ‘Pug’ Henry
Palmer ‘Fred’ Kirby