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CBS Playhouse: "The Final War of Olly Winter" (1/29/67)

CBS Playhouse: "The Final War of Olly Winter" (1/29/67)
March 8, 2013 - 7:30 pm
Tina Chen.

Directed by Paul Bogart

In innumerable productions over his long, pioneering career, including roles in Raisin in the Sun (on Broadway and on film) and the landmark social drama, Nothing But a Man (1964), Ivan Dixon’s talents would far exceed the fame he achieved in his role on the 1960s sitcom Hogan’s Heroes. During his five seasons with Hogan, Dixon purposely utilized his time on-set to learn filmmaking, observing episodes as they were directed and edited. Despite the security the series provided, Dixon, one of the first African American regulars on network television, left the popular program to pursue other ambitions. He went on to a highly successful career as a television director, helming episodes for a diverse range of series, including The Bill Cosby Show and The Waltons. Among his most notable achievements, Dixon also directed two motion pictures that would leave an imprint on cinema history, Trouble Man (1972) and the uncompromising, The Spook Who Sat by the Door (1973).

Produced as the premiere presentation of the ambitious late 1960s television anthology CBS Playhouse, playwright Ronald Ribman’s poetic teleplay,”The Final War of Olly Winter” represents an exceptional showcase of Dixon’s considerable skills as an actor. In one of the earliest television dramas to realistically portray the trauma of the Vietnam War, Dixon stars as the titular character, a career soldier who is the lone survivor when his platoon is ambushed. As Winter attempts to make his way back to friendly territory he encounters a young Vietnamese woman and the two strike an uneasy bond. Though she does not speak English, Winter and the young woman must learn to communicate with each other as they trek through dangerous jungle terrain (actually, an inventive indoor set at CBS Television City). The New York Daily News hailed the experimental production as “a haunting, mordant work of infinite pathos, with a memorable virtuoso performance by Ivan Dixon.” The special was nominated for five Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Dramatic Program. For his poignant work, Dixon earned an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Drama.

Mark Quigley

CBS. Producer: Fred Coe. Writer: Ronald Ribman. With: Ivan Dixon, Tina Chen, Patrick Adiarte.

Digital Betacam, color. 90 min.

Preserved from the original 2" master. Video transfer at the CBS Media Exchange

“The Final War of Olly Winter” courtesy of CBS Broadcasting, Inc. 

Please note: Admission to this screening is FREE.