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The Andersonville Trial (Broadway Theatre Archive)


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Product Details

  • Actors: William Shatner, Richard Basehart, Martin Sheen, Cameron Mitchell
  • Directors: George C. Scott
  • Writers: Saul Levitt
  • Producers: Edith Hamlin, Lewis Freedman, Morris Chapnick
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Image Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: March 2, 2012
  • Run Time: 141 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0000A0DTC
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,048 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Andersonville Trial (Broadway Theatre Archive)" on IMDb

Special Features

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

A court martialed Confederate officer faces trial for running the notorious prison of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia, where over 14,000 Union prisoners died from disease, starvation and neglect. The defendant, Captain Henry Wirz, justified his actions with a plea that he was only following orders, believing he was relieved of any personal responsibility because he was performing his duty. However, the Army prosecutor contends that moral men must rebel against barbaric or inhumane orders, even if they are within the framework imposed by military discipline.

A powerhouse courtroom drama in the style of Inherit the Wind, A Few Good Men and The Caine Mutiny. With an all-star cast includes William Shatner (Star Trek), Martin Sheen (The West Wing), Cameron Mitchell (Carousel), Richard Baseheart (Being There), Jack Cassidy (The Eiger Sanction), Buddy Ebsen (The Beverly Hillbillies) and Alan Hale (Gilligan's Island). Directed by the celebrated George C. Scott (Patton), who starred in the original 1959 Broadway production. Winner of Three 1971 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Single Program, Drama or Comedy / Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama, Adaptation / Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork.

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From the Back Cover

A court martialed Confederate officer faces trial for running the notorious prison of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia, where over 14,000 Union prisoners died from disease, starvation and neglect. The defendant, Captain Henry Wirz, justified his actions with a plea that he was only following orders, believing he was relieved of any personal responsibility because he was performing his duty. However, the Army prosecutor contends that moral men must rebel against barbaric or inhumane orders, even if they are within the framework imposed by military discipline. A powerhouse courtroom drama in the style of Inherit the Wind, A Few Good Men and The Caine Mutiny. With an all-star cast includes William Shatner ("Star Trek"), Martin Sheen ("The West Wing"), Cameron Mitchell (Carousel), Richard Baseheart (Being There), Jack Cassidy (The Eiger Sanction), Buddy Ebsen ("The Beverly Hillbillies") and Alan Hale ("Gilligan's Island"). Directed by the celebrated George C. Scott (Patton), who starred in the original 1959 Broadway production. Winner of Three 1971 Emmy Awards: Outstanding Single Program, Drama or Comedy / Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama, Adaptation / Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork.

Customer Reviews

This drama is performed very well.
James D. Crabtree
It is a dramatic telling of a famous war crimes trial, with superb acting and a moral message about war that will stay with you for some time to come.
Mark Savary
The biggest compliment I can give Shatner's work is that I cannot imagine George C. Scott having played this role.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 13, 2003
Format: DVD
The most important thing to remember about this Peabody Award winning production of Saul Levitt's play "The Andersonville Trial" is that it was produced in 1970, during the Vietnam War. However, the play was originally produced on Broadway in 1959, which is rather surprising because this particular version has a reputation for being a historic allegory in the grand tradition of "The Crucible." In 1959 the historic parallel would have been to the Nuremberg Trials where Nazi leaders were tried as war criminals. But in the wake of the My Lai massacre the court-martial of Capt. Henry Wirz (Richard Basehart), commandant of the infamous Andersonville prison during the Civil War it would be impossible for an audience to view this drama as anything else that a discussion of the war in Vietnam.
Henry Wirz was the only Confederate soldier to be convicted and executed for war crimes during the Civil War. Wirz remains a controversial figure whose name is associated with some of the worst atrocities of the war by many while considered a martyr to the Glorious Cause by others. As Union forces pushed into the South the Confederacy was ending up with more and more Union prisoners and the Andersonville Camp was created to relieve the situation in Richmond and elsewhere. However, in June of 1864 the Union discontinued the policy of prisoner exchanges and without that avenue of release or the construction of another facility, the prisoner population of Andersonville swelled to 26,000 prisoners crammed into a little more than 26 acres. Add to this the impoverishment of the Confederacy in the final year of the war when the 33,000 prisoners in Andersonville made it the fifth largest "city" in the Confederacy, and it is hardly surprising that hundreds of men were dying each day.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mark Savary on May 8, 2002
Format: VHS Tape
"Andersonville Trial" is special in more ways than one.
First and foremost, it is a damn fine production, and a very powerful stage play captured on video. Second, the play has many famous names among the cast, some of whom appear in early roles (Martin Sheen, for one). William Shatner, of course, is oddly Kirk-like, but does very well as Lt. Colonel Chipman. Richard Basehart? Wonderful, and the ultimate professional, as always. Buddy Ebsen plays a doctor. Even Alan Hale Sr., who blazed a trail of adventure in many of Errol Flynn's films, is on hand (though in a non-speaking role). None other than George C. Scott directed the enterprise, and introduces the feature in a short segment.
Another thing that makes this production unique is that it harkens back to the best of PBS, before they started worrying about ratings, hype, and marketing. Shows like "I, Claudius" and "Masterpiece Theater", among others, made their way to the network about the same time, and "Sesame Street" had yet to become the moneygrubbing exercise it is now (Elmo, this means YOU!). This was back when PBS really lived up to the ideals of being a Public Broadcaster, and shows like "Andersonville Trial" were an offshoot of those ideals. Like other PBS shows, it was the BEST the arts offered at the time; a famous cast in a dramatic play, coming right into our living rooms.
On the tape, we even get to see the old PBS logo, with "PBS" spelled out in that funky 60's-70's type they used to use (with the orange letter "P"). That alone is worth the purchase price.
Hopefully a DVD will someday be released. Until then, if you can latch on to a copy of the tape, you should by all means do so. It is a dramatic telling of a famous war crimes trial, with superb acting and a moral message about war that will stay with you for some time to come.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Scott Hammond on August 18, 2003
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I was a teenager when this program originally aired on television, and I thought that William Shatner was merely playing the same old wildly emoting Captain Kirk that has made him the butt of so many jokes. After a recent second screening, I see that I was probably wrong. Shatner's prosecutor is a little over the top, but it's because his justifiable moral outrage at the defendant has caught him in a terrible trap, and forces him to ask questions that were almost unthinkable in 1865; namely, is it ever justifiable for an officer to refuse to follow orders which he judges are immoral?
The defendant, Wirz, as excellently played by Richard Basehart, is an immigrant from the European school of miltary theory, and he is by turns hateful, confused at the sudden shift in the meaning of his duty, and pathetic (Wirz is still considered something of a hero in the local area outside the present-day National Cemetery near Andersonville). Jack Cassidy, as the defending attorney, is fully aware of the prosecutor's dilemma, and seems to be taking great pleasure in pointing up the US Army's hypocracy in trying a man for following malicious orders, yet refusing to allow that he would have been militarily justified in refusing them. Cameron Mitchell is the presiding officer, Gen. Lew Wallace (of "Ben-Hur" fame), and portrays a man who is about to lose control of the proceedings through the unsettling forays of the Army's own prosecutor. I gave the film four stars because it is a little too long and drags a bit in some places. However, the depth of the story, and the exploration of the ethical problems dealt with in the courtroom, make it superior to a very similar movie, "Judgment at Nuremburg."
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