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The Winds of War (1983)

Robert Mitchum , Ali MacGraw  |  NR |  DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (370 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Mitchum, Ali MacGraw, Jan-Michael Vincent, John Houseman, Polly Bergen
  • Producers: Branko Lustig
  • Format: Box set, Collector's Edition, Color, Full Screen, NTSC, Miniseries
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo)
  • Subtitles: English
  • Dubbed: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: May 25, 2004
  • Run Time: 883 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (370 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0001NBNGQ
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,640 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Winds of War" on IMDb

Special Features

  • The complete miniseries on six discs
  • Making The Winds of War featurette
  • A Novel for Television featurette
  • Cast and Characters
  • On Location featurette

Editorial Reviews

An engrossing, 1983 television miniseries based on a bestselling work of historical fiction by Herman Wouk, The Winds of War is an admirable production reminiscent of the era of Hollywood's epic features. At the center of the globe-trotting story is the Henry family, whose laconic but straight-shooting patriarch is United States Navy Commander Victor "Pug" Henry (Robert Mitchum), sent to Hitler's Berlin in the spring of 1939 as a naval attaché to the then-neutral American embassy. A keen observer, Pug deduces that Germany is not preparing for war on two fronts (western Europe on one side, Russia on the other) despite what the Nazis want the world to believe, meaning that Hitler must be working out a secret peace deal with Stalin. Pug's prescience makes him a favorite eyewitness in Berlin for Franklin D. Roosevelt (Ralph Bellamy); the irony is that Pug is far less sagacious when it comes to the realities of his family.

Polly Bergen plays unhappy wife Rhoda, who turns to A-bomb developer Palmer Kirby (Peter Graves) for comfort. Pug's 19-year-old daughter, Madeline (Lisa Eilbacher), defies her iron-willed dad's decision that she stay in school by taking a job for CBS radio in New York. Compliant son Warren (Ben Murphy) can't seem to get Pug's attention despite doing everything right (including becoming a Navy pilot, eventually present at the bombing of Pearl Harbor). By contrast, Pug spends more time fuming over black sheep son Byron (Jan-Michael Vincent), who is working in increasingly Fascist Italy as an assistant to an art historian (John Houseman) while trying hard to woo the latter's exasperating niece, Natalie (Ali MacGraw). The story of Byron and Natalie takes up much of The Winds of War as the pair traverse Poland during the shock of Hitler's 1939 assault, and Jewish Natalie later finds herself trapped inside Italy facing the threat of concentration camps. Before The Winds of War ends, each of these characters will end up in places and situations, and with historical figures (Churchill, Mussolini) as well as ordinary people, they would not have anticipated outside the pressures of war. The program's length and smart script allow for a lot of ideas and background detail that pull a viewer in--happily. --Tom Keogh

Product Description

Set against the backdrop of world events that led to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, The Winds of War stars Robert Mitchum as Victor "Pug" Henry, a career naval officer who along with his family, learns to navigate the waters of his dangerous times in the late 1930s. While Germany expands and proceeds to seize several border countries, Italy attempts to establish a Fascist Colonial Empire under Mussolini and Japan prepares for a major battle with China. Meanwhile, the Henry clan finds itself drawn into the center of the conflict as they deal with the drama, romance, tragedy and heroism that lead to America's involvement in World War II.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
131 of 134 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well done, Paramount July 6, 2004
Paramount deserves major congratulations for doing right by The Winds of War with their DVD release.
I was anxious to make sure this DVD measured up, so I watched it with my old VHS playing at the same time, and switched back and forth occasionally on the remote to see the difference. It's nothing less than astonishing. The old Winds videos look unwatchable when compared to the new image, which probably looks as close as possible to the way it was shot.
This is, of course, a TV miniseries from 1983, long before anyone imagined the resolution of DVD, so it's not going to look perfect. Still, almost every time I switched to the VHS, then back, I literally said "wow." Colors are distinct and deep, details are sharp and the variously-colored hazes that afflicted most of the VHS are gone. Having only seen the series this way, the DVDs were a revelation. These discs represent what is best about DVD and its success, bringing a long-quiet catalog title back to life.
Although Paramount usually mixes new 5.1 audio tracks for their old films, with 15 hours of film here, they can't be blamed for leaving the existing mono tracks, which are certainly decent and don't detract at all from viewing the film. (I can't understand the other reviewer who gave the DVD set one star, largely because of the audio. Doesn't he understand how prohibitively expensive a new sound mix of that length, for such a complex series, would have been? We're very lucky with what we've got.)
Paramount also fixed some framing mistakes on the VHS edition. Large portions of episodes 5, 6 and 7 were noticeably off-center when compared to the re-aligned DVDs.
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213 of 222 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive mini-series-- Outstanding! October 2, 2000
Format:VHS Tape|Verified Purchase
Herman Wouk wrote an absolute masterpiece. Winds of War is without a doubt the very best historical novel in the war genre. Dan Curtis equally directs the benchmark that mini-series will be measured by for years to come.
Casting for Winds of War was perfect when it came to matching Wouk's characters. Despite the age differences Ali McGraw and Jan-Michael Vincent were absolutely perfect as the independent and fickle Natali Jastrow and the bull-headed Byron Henry. Robert Mitchum is the glue that holds the story together in a flawless performance as Victor "Pug" Henry, the man that meets everyone that is anyone in his role as a Naval Attache stationed in Berlin in the pre-World War II years. One of the best ever ensemble casts include stand-outperformances by Polly Bergen as Pug Henry's hard-drinking wife Rhoda, not to mention Topol, David Dukes, Victoria Tennant and John Houseman.
Winds of War has become a semi-annual event for our family. It is simply so entertaining that it never grows tiresome. The historical value alone makes it worth having in your home library.
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122 of 126 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great min-series that stays true to the book. March 23, 2000
Format:VHS Tape
I first read The Winds of War by Herman Wouk back around 1972. The book just absolutely grabbed me. When I heard that ABC was filming a mini-series I was a little skeptical. Very few "made for TV" movies from books really capture the true feel of the original work. THIS ONE DOES! First of all it has a great cast. Robert Mitchum was just awsome as Comander Pug Henry. Both Jan Michael Vincent and Ali McGraw were credable as older actors playing young adults. Polly Bergen, John Houseman, and Peter Graves round out an exceptional cast. The fictional account of a family caught up within historical events continues to draw my attention, even though I have watch this many times since it originally came out. Some of the many highlights include the special effects of the bombing of London, the Japanesse attack on Pearl Harbor, and the wonderful re-creation of Roosevelt, Churchill, and Hitler by Ralph Bellamy and crew. In comparing this series to War and Remembrance, which was the sequal in both book and mini-series, I would have to give the nod to this as the better. If you're looking for an accurate and riviting account of the early years of WW II, then grab this up. Yes, the cost is high but it's well worth it.
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69 of 79 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What's That Smell? Ali McGraw's Performance. March 27, 2008
Ok, like many other reviewers of this "mini-series"/movie, I have to begin my review with unmitigated praise for Herman Wouk's book of the same title. Well-researched, well-written, and with nearly perfect character and plot development that is flawlessly set in the world's greatest modern drama, Winds of War deserves every accolade heaped upon it.
The movie, not so much. Don't get me wrong, it's entertaining, but it does not accomplish what the book accomplishes. It is not as artisic, as educational, as well-paced, or as engrossing. Wouk apparantly wrote the teleplay: thank goodness, at least someone didn't tamper with his work. The movie flows through the same general plot twists and turns as does the novel, and I even recognized some of the dialogue. My wife and I viewed this in nightly installments over a week or so, and really looked forward to it.
This is a star-studded ensemble cast, so I can't review the film without addressing the casting and the acting. The acting is hot or cold. Whoever put Robert Mitchum in the Pug Henry role absolutely nailed it, and there are several other good calls: Topol as Berel Jastrow was a no-brainer; Ralph Bellamy is a convincing enough FDR (tough role); and, Victoria Tennant is simply yummy as Pamela Tudsbury (and she ends the argument that, family man though I am, Pug needs to dump that bat-s*** Rhoda and start over). But, then there is the comic relief trifecta of Ali McGraw, Jan Michael Vincent, and John Houseman (who often appear together as Natalie, Byron, and Aaron, respectively). Houseman just seems to sleep walk through his lines while doing his best John Houseman impersonation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
very interesting. full of history
Published 3 hours ago by LeeAnn Miller
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very good movie
Published 10 days ago by dale robinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Such a wonderful production-- great cast They don't make movies like that any more... Thanks for preserving it..
Published 10 days ago by Marilyn Shanahan
5.0 out of 5 stars Dramatic and like he says one of the best he has ever ...
My Husband has watched over quite a few times.
He loves the strong characters and facts that he didn't know.
Dramatic and like he says one of the best he has ever seen.
Published 10 days ago by Mike Lux
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommend watching the complete series
Very well done. True to history. Highly recommend watching the complete series.
Published 11 days ago by Ray E. Sears
5.0 out of 5 stars I bought this for my Mom who loved the series when it was on tv...
I bought this for my Mom who loved the series when it was on tv decades ago. All these years later, she said it was just as good and can now watch anytime she wants.
Published 12 days ago by andreatb101
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
we love it
Published 12 days ago by vincent frisella
5.0 out of 5 stars Good snippet of WWII
Good TV mini-series. Pug is just a little too central to POTUS and Joint Chiefs, but then heroes of novels are extraordinary!
Published 12 days ago by Chad's Dad
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
my mom was so excited
Published 15 days ago by Sandra A. Brochu
5.0 out of 5 stars Important history lesson
A great story that gives one a deeper understanding of how and why the World War was entered into by the United States. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Alice Lewis
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