Once an Eagle (miniseries)

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Once An Eagle
Promotional poster
Directed by Richard Michaels
E.W. Swackhamer
Produced by Peter S. Fischer
Screenplay by Peter S. Fischer
Story by Anton Myrer
Starring Sam Elliott
Cliff Potts
Darleen Carr
Amy Irving
Glenn Ford
Music by Dana Kaproff
Cinematography J.J. Jones
Edited by Howard Deane
John Elias
Chuck McClelland
Distributed by NBC
Release dates
  • December 2, 1976 (1976-12-02) (United States)
Running time
540 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Once An Eagle is a 1976 nine-hour American television mini-series directed by Richard Michaels and E.W. Swackhamer. The picture was written by Peter S. Fischer and based on the 1968 Anton Myrer novel of the same name.[1]

The first and last installments of the seven-part series were each two-hour broadcasts, while the interim episodes were 60 minutes.

The mini-series concerns the thirty year careers of two military men, from the outbreak of World War I to the aftermath of World War II.


Sam Damon (Sam Elliott) is a virile and praiseworthy warrior.

Courtney Massengale (Cliff Potts) is the opposite—an impotent, self-aggrandizing conniver.



Once An Eagle was the second of four story subseries of the NBC anthology series "Best Sellers"; it was preceded by Captains and the Kings, and followed by Seventh Avenue and The Rhineman Exchange.

Anton Myrer's book, on which the series is based, is a military novel written in the United States. The novel is noted for its stark descriptions of men in combat and in its analysis of human and technical challenges and the moral dilemmas of command. It is one of only two novels on the US Army's recommended reading list for Officer Professional Development; the other is The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. A coincidental element to both novels is that Sam Elliott had a starring role in the film adaptation of each one, playing a US Army general officer.[2]

Filming locations[edit]

Some of the scenes of the film were filmed in Napa Valley, California.

DVD release[edit]

Timeless Media Group released the complete television series on a two-disc DVD set on August 31, 2010.

Origin of title[edit]

The title is derived from a Persian poem:

And so in the Libyan fable it is told,
That once an eagle, stricken with a dart,
Said, when he saw the fashion of the shaft,
"With our own feathers, not by others' hands,
Are we now stricken".
Aeschylus[citation needed]


  • Emmy Awards: Emmy; Outstanding Cinematography in Entertainment Programming for a Series, J.J. Jones; for part I; 1977.
  • Golden Globes: Golden Globe; Best Supporting Actress - Television, Darleen Carr; 1977.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Once an Eagle at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Military Times newsweekly web site. Last accessed: February 9, 2011.

External links[edit]