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Broadway Theatre Archive: Andersonville Trial, The (1970)
Starring: Richard Basehart, Jack Cassidy, Buddy Ebsen, Cameron Mitchell, William Shatner, Martin Sheen
Director: George C. Scott
Category: Drama, Classic
Studio: Image Ent.
141 mins



A powerhouse courtroom drama.

This post-civil war court martial drama focuses on the trial of a Confederate officer who ran the notorious prisoner of war camp in Andersonville, Georgia, where over 14,000 Union prisoners died from disease, starvation and neglect. The defendant, Captain Henry Wirz, justified his actions with a plea that he was only following orders. He believed he was relieved of any personal responsibility because he was performing his duty. The Army prosecutor contends, however, that moral men must rebel against barbaric or inhumane orders "even if they are within the framework imposed by military discipline." This riveting real-life story has elements of Inherit the Wind, The Caine Mutiny, A Few Good Men and especially the Nuremberg and Eichmann war crimes trials. George C. Scott, who had played a starring role in the original 1959 Broadway production, directs the Hollywood Television Theatre adaptation and prompts uniformly strong acting from a brilliant cast that includes William Shatner, Martin Sheen, Richard Baseheart, Jack Cassidy, Buddy Ebsen and Alan Hale.

Winner of three Emmy Awards in 1971 for Outstanding Single Program-Drama or Comedy (Lewis Freedman, producer), Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama (Saul Levitt, writer) and Outstanding Achievement in Technical Direction and Electronic Camerawork (Gordon Baird, technical director; Tom Ancell, cameraman; Rick Bennewitz, cameraman; Larry Bentley, cameraman; Jack Reader, cameraman). Nominated for both Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role (Jack Cassidy) and Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Direction (Ken Dettling, lighting director).