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War and Remembrance

War and Remembrance is the follow up to Winds of War.

John Gielgud is cast as the art historian Aaron Plaskow and Jane Seymour replaces Ali Magraw as his niece Natalie. Robert Morley comes in as the jovial British war correspondent Tugsbury whose daughter Pamela (Victoria Tennant) falls in love with Pug Henry (Robert Mitchum).

Steven Berkoff plays Hitler and Robert Hardy Churchill. Edward Marshall gives an excellent performance as Dwight Eisenhower.

It is an epic sweep of the events of the war often seen through the lens of Natalie and Aaron Plaskow who flee from Siena to Marseilles and then to Paris before being sent to Theresienstadt, a concentration camp near Prague, dressed up as Jewish model village to fool the Red Cross as grim stories of wholesale slaughter of Jews began to emanate.

One thing you do not see anymore is actors smoking. This is shame as a smoke provides a pregnant pause.

One of my favourite scenes in the whole of cinema is the first appearance of Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca.

You see a chess board (Bogart was a brilliant chess player who gave his name to an opening), an ash tray in which a cigarette is scrunched, then the face of Rick Blaine in a white tuxedo. Robert Mitchum as Pug Henry and Polly Bergen as his wife Rhoda never stop drinking and smoking and that is how it was in those days.

The author and screenwriter Herman Wouk lived to the ripe old age of 103. He served in the Pacific which features strongly as Pug Henry’s son Byron married to Natalie, the displaced Jewess, is captain of a submarine. Submarines played a significant role in the naval conflict in the Pacific, sinking 300 Japanese vessels.

The ending when Natalie is reunited with her son Lewis might be bit cheesy but there was tear in my eye not least that the war was over, Hitler, Himmler and Goebbels all committed suicide leaving only Goering for Nuremberg of the big beasts. War dramas continue to be made with regularity but none have the quality of acting, the vast sweep of history and human interest of this series.

About Neil Rosen

Neil went to the City of London School and Manchester University graduating with a 1st in economics. After a brief stint in accountancy, Neil emigrated to a kibbutz In Israel. His articles on the burgeoning Israeli film industry earned comparisons to Truffaut and Godard in Cahiers du Cinema. Now one of the world's leading film critics and moderators at film Festivals Neil has written definitively in his book Kosher Nostra on Jewish post war actors. Neil lives with his family in North London. More Posts