In the 1840s, George Hazard (James Read) from Pennsylvania and Orry Main (Patrick Swayze) from South Carolina enroll at West Point and become friends for life… but the increasing tension between North and South threatens to tear them and their families apart. One of the most expensive (and popular) miniseries of its time turns the volatile times of pre-Civil War America into a lavish Dynasty with rose-colored sex, fistfights and cliffhangers. Every character is either a hero or villain, but this is nevertheless hugely enjoyable, effectively orchestrated and there are genuine stabs at treating the issues in earnest ways. Bill Conti’s main title theme is sheer perfection.
1985-U.S. Made for TV. 561 min. Color. Produced by Paul Freeman. Directed by Richard T. Heffron. Novel: John Jakes. Music: Bill Conti. Cast: Patrick Swayze (Orry Main), James Read (George Hazard), Lesley-Anne Down (Madeline Fabray), Wendy Kilbourne, Kirstie Alley, Terri Garber… David Carradine, Jean Simmons, Morgan Fairchild, Forest Whitaker, Elizabeth Taylor, Hal Holbrook, Johnny Cash.
Trivia: Originally shown in six episodes. Followed by two additional miniseries, starting with North and South: Book II (1986).
Last word: “[Swayze] was 31 and I was 30 and it was 1985 so we behaved accordingly. We had enormous fun. It was a huge time of discovery, both of our talent as much as through our party selves. We were a very close-knit group of people and we spent all of our time together for almost a year. We used to go to a club, I think it was called BBT in Charleston, South Carolina. We lived there. He was an amazing dancer, of course. And we all went out dancing, all the time.” (Down, Entertainment Weekly)