The Winds of War (1983)

Although I heard about this TV series, I never saw it until I managed most of it as background noise. Just because Robert Mitchum – the last great survivor of the age noir – played a key part, and because The Caine Mutiny (with Bogart) was adapted from Herman Wouk’s first WWII novel.

It is intriguing to see how the doctrinaire attitude to Nazi Germany had changed, and even Hitler was to look like a savant rather than evil personified. I’m not sure that I concur, but I see that many others do.

I confess that the characters of Aaron and Natalie Jastrow, as well as Rhoda Henry, exasperated me with their obdurate stupidity, but I guess this was part of the 1960s-1970s exemption from reason for women and ethnic minorities. A special little jewel of politically correct cowardice and guilt.

I also wonder how Jan Michael Vincent could have been so wooden and impervious to the concept of acting in his 40s – after doing it for almost 20 years.

Nevertheless, despite the length and soap-opera diversions, I got my money’s worth to watch Mitchum say it the way it ought to have been said.

Credits

Paramount Television, 883 minutes, colour.

Directed by Dan Curtis. Written by Herman Wouk. Cinematography by Charles Correll and Stevan Lartner. Produced by Dan Curtis. Music by Bob Cobert.

Featuring Robert Mitchum as Victor ‘Pug’ Henry, Ali MacGraw as Natalie Jastrow, Jan-Michael Vincent as Byron Henry, John Houseman as Aaron Jastrow, Polly Bergen as Rhoda Henry. Lisa Eilbacher as Madeline Henry, David Dukes as Leslie Slote, Topol as Berel Jastrow, Ben Murphy as Warren Henry, Deborah Winters as Janice Lacouture Henry, Peter Graves as Palmer Kirby, Jeremy Kemp as Brigadier General Armin von Roon, Ralph Bellamy as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Victoria Tennant as Pamela Tudsbury, Günter Meisner as Adolf Hitler, Howard Lang as Winston Churchill, Michael Logan as Alistair Tudsbury, Barry Morse as Wolf Stoller.

Crossfire (1947)

crossfire-blog-001Brooding shadows, a murder mystery, a sultry blonde, and a fatalistic sense of an inevitably disconsolate outcome give Crossfire the film noir credibility claimed for it by reviewers, but especially by contemporary marketers of home video DVD and BluRay discs, looking for a way to dress up the merchandise.

Crossfire doesn’t really need to be dressed up like a cheap streetwalker. It has significant appeal in its own right, albeit not as the film noir I think it is despite itself.

Strong performances are delivered by Robert Ryan as the fearful Montgomery, Robert Mitchum as the reliably cynical anti-hero Keeley, and Robert Young as the disconsolate homicide detective Finlay. Gloria Grahame as the even more sad and embittered dance-hall girl, Ginny, was nominated for an Academy Award despite, or maybe because of, representing the unpalatable truth about how a generation of such women got by.

These performances, and the positive contemporary reviews it attracted, went a long way to earn the film a reputation rising far above its $500,000 B movie status. But there was far more below that surface.

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