The Winds of War (miniseries)

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The Winds of War (miniseries)
Genre Historical novel-based
Created by Dan Curtis
Written by Herman Wouk
Directed by Dan Curtis
Starring Robert Mitchum
Ali MacGraw
Jan-Michael Vincent
John Houseman
Narrated by William Woodson
Theme music composer Robert "Bob" Cobert
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 7
Producer(s) Dan Curtis
Location(s) Germany
United Kingdom
United States
Cinematography Charles Correll and Stevan Larner, ASC
Editor(s) John F. Burnett
Bernard Gribble
Jack Tucker
Peter Zinner
Running time 883 minutes
Production company(s) Paramount Television
Jadran Film
Distributor Paramount Television
Original network ABC (US)
Original release February 6 (1983-02-06) – February 13, 1983 (1983-02-13)
Followed by War and Remembrance

The Winds of War is a 1983 miniseries, directed and produced by Dan Curtis, that follows the book of the same name written by Herman Wouk. Just as in the book, in addition to the lives of the Henry and Jastrow families, much time in the miniseries is devoted to the major global events of this period. Adolf Hitler and the German military staff, with the fictitious general Armin von Roon as a major character, is a prominent subplot of the miniseries. The Winds of War also includes segments of documentary footage, narrated by William Woodson, to explain major events and important characters.

It was followed by a sequel, War and Remembrance, in 1988, also based on a novel written by Wouk and also directed and produced by Curtis.[1]


The film follows the plot of Wouk's novel closely, depicting events from March 1939 until the entry of the United States into World War II in December 1941.

The almost 15-hour-long series was shown by ABC in seven parts over seven evenings, between February 6 and February 13, 1983,[2] and attracted an average of 80 million viewers per night.[3]

Part Title Original air date
1 "The Winds Rise" February 6, 1983 (February 6, 1983)
2 "The Storm Breaks" February 7, 1983 (February 7, 1983)
3 "Cataclysm" February 8, 1983 (February 8, 1983)
4 "Defiance" February 9, 1983 (February 9, 1983)
5 "Of Love and War" February 10, 1983 (February 10, 1983)
6 "Changing of the Guard" February 11, 1983 (February 11, 1983)
7 "Into the Maelstrom" February 13, 1983 (February 13, 1983)

Main cast[edit]


Production in Vienna in 1981

Author Herman Wouk was very negative and skeptical about a motion picture adaptation of his beloved, and scrupulously researched, novel, since he was most displeased with several earlier adaptations of his novels. But in 1983, The Winds of War eventually became a successful mini-series on the ABC television network, directed by Dan Curtis. Wouk himself wrote the teleplay for the series and had considerable influence on the production itself, and gave detailed instructions on what, and how many, commercials would be allowed. Wouk also has a cameo as the archbishop of Siena. The music was composed by Robert "Bob" Cobert, a composer often associated with Curtis. Nazi concentration camp-survivor Branko Lustig was an associate producer in the miniseries, and also on Schindler's List.[4]

  • The series consists of 7 episodes and has a runtime of 14 hours 40 minutes. (Episodes ranged from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours.) The script was almost 1000 pages. The estimated budget was very large for its time, about $35 million ($85 million in 2016 dollars).
  • The series was shot all over the world, but main shooting locations were Germany, the United States, Italy, the UK, Croatia and Austria. For example, the opening scene sub-titled "Berlin" was actually filmed in and around the Hofburg in Vienna.
  • The official casting of Lee Strasberg as Aaron Jastrow was publicly announced.[5] But Strasberg had to withdraw from the production due to ill health (he died in 1982), and he was replaced by John Houseman.[6] Houseman himself had to withdraw from the sequel miniseries, War and Remembrance, due to his own ill health (he died in 1988), and he, in turn, was replaced by John Gielgud.
  • The Paramount production made use of battle scenes from other films during the attack scene on Pearl Harbor and during the German attacks on the Soviet Union, including scenes for both battles from Tora! Tora! Tora!
  • The OpsRoom at RAF Uxbridge, from which the Battle of Britain fighter defenses were commanded, is only rarely made available to the public. Such producers as Dan Curtis managed to get permission to film there.


The show was a success throughout the United States and received many accolades, including Golden Globe nominations and various Emmy wins and nominations.[7]

Emmy Awards[edit]


  • Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or a Special
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement - Costumers
  • Outstanding Individual Achievement - Special Visual Effects


  • Outstanding Art Direction for a Limited Series or a Special
  • Outstanding Directing in a Limited Series or a Special
  • Outstanding Film Editing for a Limited Series or a Special
  • Outstanding Film Sound Editing for a Limited Series or a Special
  • Outstanding Film Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or a Special (three individual episodes nominated)
  • Outstanding Limited Series (Dan Curtis, producer)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or a Special (Ralph Bellamy, for playing Franklin Delano Roosevelt)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or a Special (Polly Bergen, for playing Rhoda Henry)


External links[edit]