MovieChat Forums > The Winds of War (1983) Discussion > worst casting / acting ever?

worst casting / acting ever?

i was looking forward to see this miniseries whuch I had missed when on TV ..Altough I enjoyed the parts that deal with the war itself I found myself doing fast forward on all the other scenes...boring the dialogues
-pug / ronda,natalie /byron, ronda /kirby etc etc

-I like Mitchum but at 66 too old for the part ..cant imagine Vitoria Tennant falling for him
-Ali Mc Graw....A major disaster -- horrendous acting ...At 46 and showing it he was given a difficult role and she manages to be the most obnoxious caracter in the series
-Vincent -He does not know how to act ...a non-starter
-Hitler -The actor plays the part as a comedian imitating Hitler ..horrendous ...made me laugh
-Peter Graves appears constipated -Polly Bergen Ok acting but an impossible caracter to play
-John Houseman.A fine actor ..probably his WORST perfomance playing a jewish writer...With all the fine jewish actors they cast a typical WASP to play the part

I was also puzzled by the choice of the actress playing the fiancee of the other son of Pug.....She appears to have a glass eye ...I saw her in the first scene after that I probably fast forwarded ...can someone confirm this?

A dissapointment in the non-war end of the series badly acted and miscast and interminable dialogues ..
Cannot understand how experienced directors and producers can screw up so badly...


Can't argue with any of your observations. I bought this DVD series, as well as "War and Remembrance" after reading the novels, and was pretty disappointed. The whole thing seemed terribly miscast from the onset - it almost makes you wonder if the director/producer/casting person had stopped seeing movies or watching TV in 1972 - too many of the cast seem to be somebody's list of favorite has beens.

Just for fun, who would you cast if you were going to remake this series now? Some of my thoughts (assuming they would all be available, work cheap, commit to a TV mini)

Pug = Bruce Willis
Rhoda = Sharon Stone (just to bring somebody back from the original)
Byron = Lucas Black (provided he could loose the southern drawl)
Natalie = Jolene Blalock or Linda Cardellini
Aaron Jastrow = Patrick Stewart
Lelie Slote = Sean Maher

just to name a few.


I have not bought war and remembrance After this experience I am not sure I will .....Is it worth it?

your casting ideas are perfect willis,stone and stewart....frankly i do not know the other 3 suggestions would be
natalie ------cate blanchet of the few acteresses I can think of
that could (and surely would) play this part without irritating
me and 99% of the viewers.
byron ---------ANY actor under 30 would do better ...
slote .......seymour hoffman


I thought War and Remembrance was much better than W.O.W., but still a little lacking. Hart Bochner (Byron) and Jane Seymour (Natalie) were a quantum leap improvement over Jan Micheal Vincent and Ali MacGraw. Steven Berkoff (sp?) played Hitler like Wouk wrote the character - evil yet cloying - and in my opinion turned him into a character with more than cartoon villian depth. Barry Bostwick did a surprisingly good performance as Carter Aster. (although he, like too many of the actors in this project, was too old for the role.)

Lacking: the wooden performance by Mitchum and some really hokey special effects.

I guess then I wouldn't feel guilty if I said I thought it was worth the investment.

I think you have some good thoughts on Cate Blanchet, and hit really hit the nail on the head with Seymour Hoffman.

Just FYI, since I watch too much damn TV and need to justify it somehow:

Lucas Black - most recently in "Jarhead", and "Friday Night Lights", and years ago in "American Gothic".

Linda Cardellini - is currently on "ER", but made her breakthrough role in "Freaks and Geeks".

Jolene Blalock - most recently was 'T'Pol' on "Enterprise".

Sean Maher - was 'Dr. Simon Tam' on "Firefly" and the movie sequel "Serenity".

Happy viewing!


thanks ...will buy it in WOW one can always FF the boring scenes.


Well you CAN rent it via Netflix, as we're currently doing (perhaps Blockbuster also by now.) Even though they skewed the order of the DVDs they were sending at first. Much of the family segments are draggy, I agree, and there HAD to be actors of the correct age, and more suited to the material, than people like Mitchum, Bergen, etc., though it could be forgiven in the first series. It's an unfortunate blot that they were brought back 6 years later and visibly even more aged (plus BOTH I suspect, had some "tightening" done that made them look even older, which is weird.) It's unfortunate because Mitchum and Bergen were pretty good film performers back in their heyday. Mitchum would have made a splendid senior Nazi rather than the starring-role of a rather passive "hero."

The subsequent casting of the kids, etc. was a vast improvement, though the daughter Madeline doesn't seem to have much of a part in W&R as compared to WoW, and even though their youth makes the parents seem ancient. Gielgud just blows me away--- it's easier to understand why Natalie insisted on staying with THIS version of Aaron in spite of all advice to the contrary, compared to John Houseman's, though I have to say Jane Seymour does not convey Natalie's initial arrogance (which was in the book) as well as Ali McGraw did. Poor Natalie in the second story has to quickly de-volve from a woman of the world to a pursued victim and terrified mother.

All that having been said, both of these programs were highly impressive back in the day and were worth the time I put in seeing them the first go-round, and now, on DVD, well worth investing the time for those who didn't back then. The nice part is, on DVD there's no commercials to dull the impact of certain horrific scenes, yet the obvious intended breaks between scenes make it easy to take a breather once in a while.


Pug= Christopher Plummer
Rhoda= Vanessa Redgrave or Emma Thompson
Byron= Christian Bale or Jim Caviezel
Natalie= Ashley Judd
Aaron= Ian McKellen
Leslie= Liev Schreiber



Sometimes I think I am the only McGraw/Vincent fan (in these roles) on the planet. Theirs is my all-time favorite screen romance. I think they had great chemistry. McGraw was the feisty, headstrong, stubborn, yet vunlnerable, Natalie. Vincent was the alienated, angry, yet talented Byron. Vincent also did a great job portraying Byron's complicated relationship with Pug.

I will say that the casting choices, made by the other posters in this thread, for a remake are fantastic!


McGraw especially. I'm only on disc 4 now, but when her fiance referred to her as "that lioness" I almost spewed out my coffee. Puleeez! My husband said she seemed like she was going through a "first read-through".


McGraw was stiff in many parts and worked in others. It was very odd casting, indeed. I think the recasts in every instance worked. Not saying they were better-I don't feel like arguing that right now-but that they worked to my satisfaction. I agree that there were times where McGraw-and soeme others-seemed like they were doing simple line readings, instead of acting. Dan Curtis was a very good director in many regards, but he did not always get the best performance from his talent. Of course, I think some of the "talent" on this series wasn't up for the task for various reasons.


Pardon me, but John Houseman WAS a Romanian Jew, just like Edward G. Robinson.


Couldnt agree more, forgot how bad an actress ali mcgraw was until i watched this again, victoria tennant was even worse and jan michael vincent was just as wooden, and everytime peter graves appeared you just couldn't help but think of airplane.
All we needed was an appearance by david hasselhoff and that would have completed a real ensemble cast of bad actors
Mitchum was however excellent as was jeremy kemp.


I've just watched the miniseries on DVD, and I must say I agree with you on most counts.

Every scene with Ali McGraw, I was practically gritting my teeth when she spoke her lines. Of course, it was helped by the fact that her character generally acted SO stupidly in most instances. (i.e. Going to Warsaw when the threat of war is days away, etc.)

Victoria Tennant wasn't that bad. However, Robert Mitchum looked so old and worn that you wondered what she found so attractive in him. (In the book, Pug maybe be older -he turns 50 in the course of the novel- but is described as being in very good shape -he supposedly still takes the same pant size as when he and Rhoda married- nad is vigorous.)

Jan-Michael Vincent was somewhat wooden, but overall he gave a decent performance as Byron.

Peter Graves was alright, but you're right about the whole Airplane thing. Heh-heh. I wonder if there's any sort of behind-the-scenes footage of the cast cracking up between takes as they quote Airplane lines?


Gosh, I'm starting to think there's something wrong with me, as I don't see anything weird about Pamela falling in love with Pug, played by Victoria and Mitchum. I'm a couple of years older than she was in the beginning of the story, and I can see what she fell for, it certainly had nothing to do with his age and shape. That being said, I think the two were perfectly cast.


I stand corrected on 2 counts

-Houseman is indeed Romanian by birth ......I always tought of him as a typical English actor born and bred..
I still think his perfomance is horrendous in this series ...but maybe it is the hopeless role in which he was mis-casted

-It is MAC Graw not MC and she was not 46 but 42
I agree she was/is beautiful....
As to her acting ?? skills I still think she was/is a bad actress in general and totally miscasted in winds of war ...


I have a feeling that Houseman's Romanian birth was just a coincidence. His mother was British and his father was Alsatian (now part of France; it went back and forth between Germany and France for many years). The fact that John Houseman's first name at birth was Jacques implies that his father was a French speaker, and the fact that his real last name was Haussmann suggests German ancestry. His father was a businessman who traveled throughout Europe. Houseman, as a child, was quite the traveler as well, but went to school in England and came to the United States when he was 22. He had tried to follow in in father's business footsteps, but went broke during the depression. It was then that Houseman's acting career started, again right here in the U.S.

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When i first saw the miniseries i was a bit upset when they changed Ali McGraw for Jane Seymore in War and remembrance. But when i looked at IMDB when i found the site i understood why. Ali was almost 50 when War and remembrance was to come out and in the book i always figured her somewere 20 and 30.

"Stringfellow hawk" was better in Airwolf than in here. Ok, i give him credit for the more stressfull scence like Warsaw, but i really felt him out of his league in the scenes he and Natalie was supposed to be in love.

Polly Bergen did what she had do to.

There can be only one Pug Henry

Warren had to small part as did Madeleine

Leslie could be played by me, i would really act that affraid to bombardment.

But all in all there was a reason i was stuck like glue in the 80ths when it was shown the first time and i have seen it and war and remembrance atleast 4 times


Most disagree with you, 8.5 is a VERY high rating on this site. VERY high.