November 4, 2019 is the thirty-fourth anniversary of the 1985 television miniseries North and South.
Do you remember what you were doing at 9:00PM on Sunday, November 3, 1985? I do.
My twenty year old self was watching An ABC Novel for Television adaptation of John Jakes’ North and South, a sweeping saga set two decades before the Civil War where we met George Hazard (James Read), a northern from Pennsylvania and Orry Main (Patrick Swayze), a southern from South Carolina. Despite the differences in their upbringing and the conflict brewing between their two regions, the men developed a life long friendship starting when they became cadets at the military academy at West Point.
The friendship of Orry and George formed the narrative for showing the problems of the north and south. The Main and Hazard families each held onto opinions based on their teachings. They only knew about northerners and southerners from what they heard, having never had the opportunity to experience each other’s way of life until Orry and George became friends. Then, each got to see first hand. In Pennsylvania, Orry was surprised by the living quarters of the immigrate at Hazard Iron (The foundry owed by George’s family). And while visiting The Mains’ plantation Mount Royal, George’s sister Virgilia (Kirstie Alley), a fiery abolitionist fell in love with a slave named Grady (George Stanford Brown) and helped the man escape.
The casting, script, wardrobe and score all contributed to the scope of North and South, bringing John Jakes’ masterpiece from the written page to the small screen.
From the opening bars of the soundtrack theme to the closing credits, I was enchanted by this marvel of storytelling. And for thirty-four years, North and South has remained my favorite movie of all time.
A few of my original newspaper and magazine clippings from 1985:
Photos taken from the internet; credit given to original sources
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