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4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 30 November 2005
Of all the adaptations of literature for motion pictures and television that I've seen, folks, this one scores a 95%, with most other adaptations doing at best, say 73%, in regards to plot, character exposition, and the author's intent. It was most magnaminious of Mr. Dan Curtis to have Herman Wouk as an executive member of the team (TELEPLAY).
I'm sure that you fellow Mitchum fans savor the way his characters come into a mediocre namby-pamby situation, and shake 'em on down! He doesn't disappoint as Pug. If you read the story, you could easily shoehorn Bob Mitchum into your imagination's eye.
Polly Bergen's "Rho" is the comic relief to the saga, worrying more about her hair style, and intramural competion with other Navy and Marine Corps wives, to jockey their husband's careers to the most prestigious heights, rather than being concerned with the increasingly odious global events racing down upon her family and world. Just as Mr. Wouk intended.
Ali McGraw's "Natalie" is full of delicious spunk and mischief, as she teases, and then draws in, Jan-Michael Vincent's "Briny". She Keeps the Faith with Mr. Wouk's "Natalie", who incidentally, is my favorite literary heroine.
The cinematography is picture-postcard breathtaking; you almost forget you're watching the small screen and believe you're at your favorite silver screen palace. Fits in nicely with Mr. Wouk's crisp, concise, ultra-vivid, descriptive narrative style.
The choreography of the extras and the aircraft pilots was impeccable. These were the unsung heroes/heroines of this production.
The Nazi/German/Japanese villains were most hideously brutal of any production that I've seen anywhere. For example, Herr Meisner's "Hitler" captures the monster's mincing mannerisms perfectly. The best Hitler I've seen; even better than Richard Basehardt's (1961), who did a fine job in his own right.
Herman Wouk himself plays a cameo in the story, as Dr. Jastrow's friend, the Archbishop of Sienna.
Finally, Dan Curtis had come an astonishingly long ways from the low-budget "Dark Shadows" days (for those of you who have seen old "Yank" telly shows). Like night and day. Keep an eye out for Ms. Barbara Steele, who a few years later, would play Dr. Julia Hoffmann, M.D., in the "Dark Shadows" NBC TV revival!
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Herman Wouk's "The Winds of War" is based on the conceit of the Henry family, who manage to be in most of the "right" places as the United States heads for Pearl Harbor and involvement in World War II. Rugged "Pug" Henry (Robert Mitchum) travels with his flighty wife Rhoda (Polly Bergen) to Berlin where he is assigned as the military attaché to the American Embassy. Because of an acquaintance with Brigadier General Armin von Roon (Jeremy Kemp) of the Germany army, Pug has the opportunity to learn enough about what the Nazis are doing to make an official report predicting that Hitler is going to make a pact with the Soviet Union. Because he is right, Pug is summoned to Washington, D.C. to meet with Franklin Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy), and becomes an unofficial envoy for the President. Meanwhile, son Byron (Jan-Michael Vincent) is in Europe working as an assistant to the scholar Aaron Jastrow (John Houseman), son Warren (Ben Murphy) is training as a naval aviator, and daughter Madeline (Lisa Eilbacher) ends up getting a job working on a radio show. With these relatively few pieces Wouk covers the invasion of Poland, the German attack on the Soviets, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
Wouk wrote the script for the 1983 mini-series, directed by Dan Curtis, and one of the major strengths of "The Winds of War" is that it takes its time in telling the story of the Henrys and the Second World War (this would be even more true in the sequel, "War and Remembrance," which it seemed every episode had a great set piece). For example, in the second episode there is an extended sequence in which several main characters are caught up with American embassy personnel fleeing Warsaw during the German invasion. They are brought by the Germans to a warehouse where they are fed, then lined up, and told to identify their Jews. Diplomat Leslie Slote (David Dukes) refuses and tells the SS they should consider all the Americans to be Jews because Americans do not make a distinction. One woman immediately complains that she is not a Jew, and the SS officer asks HER to identify the Jews in their party. The scene is very intense and works without explosions or special effects, just with the knowledge of what is going to happen to the people who are separated from the others.
The storyline goes back and forth between the soap opera lives of the Henry family and the start of the war in Europe. The defining plotline of this mini-series is Byron's involvement with Aaron and his niece, Natalie (Ali McGraw) in terms of getting the Jastrows, who are Jewish, out of harm's way, which is to say, out of Europe. Of course, Byron falls in love with Natalie and it is there relationship that will end up providing the final scene of the Wouk's massive saga in "War and Remembrance."
The other key soap opera element is the relationship between Pug and young Pamela Tudsbury (Victoria Tennant), the daughter of a renowned British radio commentator. As unlikely as it might seem, until you get sick and tired of Rhoda, Pug and Pamela become attracted to each other and fall in love, but if you think our hero is going to do anything about that when he is still married, then you have another thing coming. But fate is going to keep throwing these two together around the globe until something changes as Pug follows FDR's instructions and keeps finding the front seat of the war.
"The Winds of War" provides a sense of people living through the history. Despite the soap opera elements, Wouk provides a sense of history. Wouk's script ran 962 pages, contained 1785 scenes, shot in 267 locations, in six countries and on two continents, to end up with 15 hours of air-time. This is not to say that this mini-series is without its flaws. Mitchum has a commanding presence and you certainly buy the idea that he is a career naval officer, but his acting range is extremely limited and your ability to buy the romance between his character and Pamela is up to you. However, I do not think you can blame him for his interest.
However, the embarrassment in this cast is Ali McGraw. It is not that the actress was in her 40s when she played the part but just that she is such a bad actress. Add to that the fact that her character is either stupidly stubborn or stubbornly stupid, a trait inherited from her uncle's side of the family, and you spend most of this mini-series hoping that she gets killed so that Bryon can get home. However, the Jastrows are obviously fated to go to a concentration camp, and since Natalie and Byron drive by the Polish town once called Auschwitz by the Austrians in the first episode, you even know which one it is going to be.
All three of the main actors involved in the Jastrow plotline would be replaced in "War and Remembrance," and this last time watching "The Winds of War" I tried to think upon how things might have worked if Jane Seymour had been playing Natalie from the beginning. I have to say that it is McGraw's performance that is the problem and not the character as written. Seymour could play stubborn without seeming stupid. But in the end it is clear the Henrys and their acquaintances are just minor figures caught up in a war that is about to involve the entire world. No wonder that I think some of the best work ever done on television has come in the form of the mini-series.
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on 27 June 2005
I've just bought and watched this excellent miniseries, after trying to find it ever since I read the books and watched the series on television many years ago.
Anyone with a slight interest in WWII history know that Herman Wouk's novel is excellent entertainment as well as very informal. His grasp of the historical accuracy and his ability to place the reader "on the spot" as historical events unfold has been successfully broght into this adaption of the novel.
Some of the casting is perhaps slightly odd. The main character, Victor "Pug" Henry is supposed to be approximately 50 years old in the novel, but is played by a 66 years old Robert Mitchum (who is outstanding in this series, by the way), Byron Henry who is supposed to be 22-23 years old is played by a 39 years old Jan-Michael Vincent, and Natalie Jastrow who is supposed to be 28 is played by a 45 years old Ali MacGraw. But it works.
Other interesting characters are Ralph Bellamy as President Roosevelt, Gunther Meissner as Adolf Hitler, Victoria Tennant as Pamela Tudsbury, and John Houseman as Aaron Jastrow.
I like the series a lot. Although I rate the books above the mini-series I find this series very high on my all-time favourite list.
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on 22 September 2011
A very good book well presented as a film. Herman Wouk wrote an excellent story interspersed with well researched facts and the inclusion of true events. The sequal, "War and Remembrance", is equally good and should also be read or seen on DVD.
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on 4 August 2015
plot set shortly before and during the 2nd world war years 1939- early 1942 based around victor henry a senior us naval captain yearning for a sea command but used as a naval attache to berlin and later president roosevelt trouble shooter, ironicaly when awarded a battleship command hes thwarted
as its sunk at pearl harbor before he takes command ( poor bugger) . the rest of his family , rhoda his wife byron his youngest son cause no end of problems especially byron who trakes a shine to nattilie and travell together to poland days befre the german invasion although robert mitchum his dour self does well in the series his brood byron, and his girlfriend nattilie are irritating at best, could be the reason why differnt actors repaced them for the sequel

as far as i know the victor henry family are fictitious as are his friends, but the the main historical player are played very well,
sequel is war and remembrance

be advised the picture is pan / scan meaning black vertcal lines on each side of the episode, some blue ray players have zoom , which may help also no extras in this set

if i were to give it a picture quality rating i would
give it a 7/10 for blue ray in contrast to 6/10 for dvd version
meaning theres not a lot of difference

ASIN:B00I8NF2EU War And Remembrance (Region 2) Box Set 6 DVD]]
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on 6 February 2016
An interesting set of discs chronicling the start of the world war in Europe and the Pacific from the view of one family the Henry's steeped in Naval traditions. An excellent cast lead by Robert Mitchum and an International cast of stars. I enjoyed the various storylines highlighting how the war would impact various sections of US, European and Asian cultures. I did get rather bored with the John Houseman character and his self centred attitude that almost cost him, niece and grand nephew their lives!
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on 28 August 2013
I purchased Winds of War Blu-ray and seemingly it is a pirate or anyway poor copy which starts straight away with no menu and dutch subtitles which cannot be removed.As it is an import from the Netherlands I am very disappointed with the quality,and would advise others not to purchase even at £14-99.
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on 14 October 2015
I was originally supplied with the wrong product :-( the photo and description are of a Blue Ray disk which is what I wanted and ordered I was supplied with a DVD set which I had to send back - I then ordered from another supplier a real Blu-Ray disk

This arrived very quickly from the States & is fine

Winds of War is a terrific watch ! It is highly recommended to anyone who has an interest in WWII - I now have a DVD set & also a Blu-Ray disk

So I'm well set up to watch the series again as I do quite often
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on 16 June 2016
I did see 'The Winds Of War' on TV, in more than one Nation during the 1980s. Rather a long haul to watch, but the story and background around several nations at one time or another makes for entertaining viewing. A slight flaw occurs of wandering away from the main plot in two places. The Italian Street Horse Race hasn't really got much to do with the evolving story. Whilst the Jewish Wedding in Poland spends too much time on screen, at the expensive of moving the story along. Good sub plot balance where various romances are concerned, as WW2 escalates.
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on 25 June 2015
its just great to watch something half decent for a change, telly is dreadful , awash with cheap cookery/makeover big bro tosh, after a hards days graft, I want to be entertained, pug henry 'n co tick all the box's
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