The Andersonville Trial
|The Andersonville Trial|
|Written by||Saul Levitt (play)|
|Directed by||George C. Scott|
|Country of origin||United States|
Morris Chapnick (associate producer)
Edith Hamlin (supervising producer)
|Production company(s)||Community Television of Southern California|
|Original release||May 17, 1970|
The Andersonville Trial was a television adaptation of a 1959 hit Broadway play by Saul Levitt, presented as an episode of PBS's on May 17, 1970 as part of the anthology series Hollywood Television Theatre.
The play was based on the actual 1865 trial of Henry Wirz, played by Richard Basehart, commander of the infamous Confederate Andersonville prison, where thousands of Union prisoners died of exposure, malnutrition, and disease. A notable cast included William Shatner as the Chief JAG Prosecutor Norton Parker Chipman, Jack Cassidy (who was nominated for an Emmy) as Wirz's defense counsel, Cameron Mitchell as Lew Wallace, a Union general and the future author of Ben-Hur, and Buddy Ebsen as a Georgia physician called in to testify about the fate of many of the Union prisoners.
The cast included three actors who had appeared opposite Shatner in Star Trek: The Original Series: Harry Townes, who played Col. Chandler, was "Reger" in The Return of the Archons, Whit Bissell, who played Dr. Ford, was "Mr. Lurry" in The Trouble with Tribbles, and Ian Wolfe, who was "Septimus" and "Mr. Atoz" in "Bread and Circuses" and "All Our Yesterdays", respectively, was a member of the trial board.
The television adaptation was directed by actor George C. Scott, who had played Chipman in the original stage version.
In Leonard Probst's 1978 compilation of celebrity interviews, Off Camera, Scott explained that what he found most difficult about playing Chipman onstage was that Henry Wirz, the defendant, came across as a tragic, sympathetic victim, although his negligence, according to the verdict, had a great deal to do with the deplorable conditions at Andersonville, and Scott found it very difficult to deal with the fact that the audience was compelled to dislike Chipman, who was, essentially, the hero of the piece, due to his efforts to obtain justice for all the men who suffered and died at the camp.
The TV production of the play won 1971 Emmy Awards for "Outstanding Single Program", for "Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork", and for Levitt's adaptation. It was also honored with a Peabody Award.
Cast and characters
- William Shatner as Lt. Col. Norton P. Chipman
- Cameron Mitchell as Maj. Gen. Lew Wallace
- Richard Basehart as Capt. Henry Wirz
- Jack Cassidy as Otis Baker
- Martin Sheen as Capt. Williams
- Buddy Ebsen as Dr. John Bates
- Albert Salmi as James Gray
- John Anderson as Ambrose Spencer
- Michael Burns as James Davidson
- Woodrow Parfrey as Louis Schade
- Harry Townes as Col. Chandler
- Whit Bissell as Dr. Ford
- Alan Hale, Jr. as court-martial board member
- Ian Wolfe as court-martial board member
- Ford Rainey as court-martial board member
- Dallas McKennon as First Guard
- Lou Frizzell as Jasper Culver (Frizzell was the only member of the original Broadway cast to appear in this production)
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