Production at the Hofburg
in Vienna in 1981
Author Herman Wouk was very negative and skeptical about a motion picture adaptation of his beloved, and scrupulously researched, novel, since he was most displeased with several earlier adaptations of his novels. But in 1983, The Winds of War eventually became a successful mini-series, co-produced by Paramount Pictures and the ABC television network, on which it aired, and directed by Dan Curtis.
- I, Claudius screenwriter Jack Pulman was originally hired to adapt the novel, and he and Wouk worked together for months preparing an outline. After Pulman passed away suddenly in 1979, Wouk himself wrote the teleplay for the series.
- Wouk had considerable influence on the production itself, and gave detailed instructions on what, and how many, commercials would be allowed. Wouk also has a cameo as the archbishop of Siena.
- The series consists of 7 episodes and has a runtime of 14 hours 40 minutes. (Episodes ranged from one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half hours.)
- The 962-page script contained 1765 scenes and 285 speaking parts.
- The estimated budget was very large for its time, $38 million ($120 million in 2017 dollars).
- The series was shot at 404 locations in Europe, California and Washington state over a 14-month schedule, starting in December 1980.
- Principal locations were Los Angeles, California; Zagreb, Opatija and Rijeka in Croatia (at the time part of Yugoslavia); Berchtesgaden, West Germany; Siena and Rome, Italy; London, UK; Vienna, Austria; and aboard the RMS Queen Mary in Long Beach, California and US Navy vessels at Port Hueneme, California and Bremerton, Washington.
- The opening scene sub-titled "Berlin" was actually filmed in and around the Hofburg in Vienna.
- The casting of Lee Strasberg as Aaron Jastrow was publicly announced in February 1981. Strasberg had to withdraw from the production before filming any scenes, due to ill health (he died in 1982). He was replaced by John Houseman. Houseman later had to withdraw from the sequel miniseries, War and Remembrance, due to his own ill health (he died in 1988). Houseman was replaced by John Gielgud.
- The Paramount production made use of battle scenes from other films during the attack scene on Pearl Harbor and during the German attacks on the Soviet Union, including scenes for both battles from Tora! Tora! Tora!
- The OpsRoom at RAF Uxbridge, from which the Battle of Britain fighter defenses were commanded, is only rarely made available to the public. Such producers as Dan Curtis managed to get permission to film there.
- The music was composed by Robert "Bob" Cobert, a composer often associated with Curtis.
- Nazi concentration camp-survivor Branko Lustig was an associate producer in the miniseries, and also on Schindler's List.