I read this Herman Wouk novel, from my mother’s shelf, a few years ago. It was my summer epic read. The mini-series has been sitting on my shelf for awhile.
Robert Mitchum plays Cmdr. Victor Henry, the naval attache to Berlin in 1939. He has three grown children: Warren is a naval pilot, Byron is a grad school dropout tooling around Europe and Madeline is a student. So here were are with the personal and the political converging ahead of WWII and that is really all you have to know.
As best I remember, it is faithful to the book. However, there is a seriously diminished focus on some of the characters – namely Warren and Madeline Henry. I guess I am ok with this, since Byron really has the best story and the thing is already really long.
This was produced in 1983, which I believe was smack in the middle of the network television mini-series heyday. North and South, The Blue and the Gray (I didn’t actually see that one) and our beloved V. Which means that we have to allow for some 80’s network movie cheese. I am fine with that. But I do find the casting a bit suspect.
Ali MacGraw seems rather old for the Natalie Jastrow character. Perhaps that is because I remember her from Dynasty when she was playing the older generation. Also, Jan-Michael Vincent seems old to be playing Byron – who is supposed to be the younger brother. And Polly Bergen as the matriarch. Well. She reminded me of Mrs. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice (think the Colin Firth version, please) which was not a vibe I picked up while reading the novel. My mother may disagree with me, there.
But Holy Something did Robert Mitchum rock this thing and that is not my daddy issues talking. He makes me want to skip over reading the sequel and go straight to the DVD.
Network television should really bring back this format.