Winds of War, 1983, is literally an epic piece of media history. Taking place in the late 1930s into the early 1940s, Winds of War is the perfect candidate to recast. However, considering the entire “feel” of the film isn’t like a Classic film, it’s rather difficult imagine this film featuring classic movie stars in the lead. It has been several years since I’ve seen Winds of War (total classic film fan, right?), but I’ll give this recasting a shot! Let’s take this film back to the year 1950, and see what happens. Technicolor? Yes.
Winds of War follows the Henry family through WWII: the struggles, escapes, romance, and war. Robert Mitchum, plays the lead role as Victor Henry – father of the Henry family and U.S. Navy admiral. Mitchum was the ideal actor to portray Victor Henry in 1983, but in 1950 this would hardly be the case. In 1950, Mitchum was off playing Jeff Cameron in the film noir ”Where Danger Lives”. For this role, we need a man that is older, mature, masculine, with strong hints of a tough character to portray Victor Henry.
This is a difficult problem to solve in 1950. No names instantly pop into my head to fit the role as well as an older Mitchum except perhaps…well, 3 names. Humphrey Bogart has many of the attributes we’re looking for in this role, although there would be a few problems with the setup. Perhaps a few lines would have to be changed to fit Bogart better, and Bogart might dislike being married and have grown – up children. Another star that comes to mind is Claude Raines. An excellent candidate in my opinion, although we’ve all noticed Raines’ height (Small compared to Mitchum and what Victor Henry is supposed to be portrayed as). Finally, there’s Walter Pidgeon. Of all the cadidates, I think Mr. Pidgeon fits the role as well as anyone – he has the build, the strength, and the personality of Victor Henry.
In addition to Victor “Pug” Henry, we have the rest of his family (For the sake of this article, I’ll only cover the Henry family and their relations). There’s Byron Henry – trained as a submarine officer – winds up in Europe at the start of WWII with girlfriend and later wife, Natalie Jastrow. Then there’s Rhonda Henry – Victor’s wife. We also have Warren Henry, another son and US Navy airman at the time of Pearl Harbor. Janice Henry is Warren’s loving wife. And last but not least we have Madeline Henry – daughter.
The role for Byron Henry is an easy one – dashing, courageous young man. Typical of classic Hollywood leading men. For this role, the instant person to come to my mind is John Garfield. Perhaps it’s because I’ve seen him with Cary Grant in “Destination Tokyo” as a submarine crew member, but this seems to fit well. Traveling Europe during WWII, close escapes, romance in the air. Fits.
Next we have Byron’s girlfriend and future wife, Natalie. Natalie has a strong character, isn’t as young as we’d wish, and must be a brunette actress. Joan Crawford or Bette Davis comes to mind here (why is that when I think of one, I think of the other?). As much of a Bette Davis team fan as I am, I feel like Crawford would fit this role much better than Davis would. (No, don’t bring up Humoresque)
Next up is Warren – handsome Navy Airman who gets caught at Pearl Harbor on the 7th. I’ve often thought about recasting Warren Henry for some reason, and William Holden seems to fit this role beautifully. While perhaps not as much screen time as Byron, Warren is still an important leading character in Winds of War. As for Warrens wife, she must be blonde and have a loving personality. Lana Turner comes to mind here, but I can’t quite see her playing a sweet role in 1950. Aside from that, the role of Janice Henry is a relatively small one – not something that Lana Turner would be looking at in 1950. Marilyn Monroe is an option, but in 1950 she was just beginning her film career in “All About Eve”. Gloria Grahame is a strong possibility here in terms of her 1952 role “The Bad and the Beautiful”. Her accent isn’t a plus here, but can be tolerated Janice Henry, played by Gloria Grahame.
Next we have Rhonda Henry, Victor’s wife. We would all love to see Greer Garson playing opposite Walter Pidgeon in this wouldn’t we? But unfortunately the characters don’t match here. Rhonda isn’t nearly as sweet as Greer, a little more stuck-up, and I couldn’t think of Greer being wooden. No, someone like Mary Astor in 1950 might work here.
And finally we have the easiest in my opinion, Madeline Henry – a slightly rebellious child that reminds me somewhat of Jeanne Crain in “Cheaper by the Dozen”.
So, in conclusion here’s what we’ve got pegged up for this ultimate 1950s WWII film starring Walter Pidgeon, John Garfield, Joan Crawford, William Holden, Gloria Grahame, Mary Astor and Jeanne Crain. Wow, star filled film – going to be a great hit in the theaters!