'Class of '61' - Clive Owen's TV Series That Never Was
The Forgotten Class of '61
In 1992, right after Ken Burns had a huge hit with his documentary, "The Civil War", ABC greenlighted a movie that, it hoped, would take advantage of the Civil War mania sweeping the country.
The movie - and hopefully, TV series - would center on the adventures of Shelby Peyton and his friends, all members of the West Point class of 1861. The series would start just before the Civil War broke out, and deal with the tensions between Shelby - a Southerner - and his two best friends: Devin O'Niel, a proud Irishman, and George Custer - yes, that's THE George Armstrong Custer, who was indeed a cadet at the Point and at the bottom of his class in 1861.
Devin and George (like most West Pointers he had a nickname, in this case "Fanny" because of his long golden curls) were both Northerners and Shelby was a son of the South. What would happen once war broke out?
The TV series pilot was shot, and with its impressive pedigree it seemed it could hardly miss. The executive producer was none other than Steven Spielberg, and the cinematographer wasJanusz Kaminski, who had worked with Spielberg on 'Schindler's List'. John "Passion of the Christ" Debney scored the music.
Then there was the cast. Dan Futterman starred as Shelby and is very good, but it's a very young Clive Owen who steals the show as his pal Devin O'Niel. Look closely and you'll see Laura Linney as Devon's girlfriend LIly, and Andre Braugher as Shelby's boyhood friend and family slave Lucius.
Alas, Clive Owen's small-screen starring role was not to be. ABC took a pass on the series and instead aired it as a one-shot TV movie in April of 1993.
You can buy it as a used VHS at Amazon for about $10. I'm hoping someday it gets a proper DVD release because it was a worthy project and there are enough famous actors in it that it would probably move a few copies.
Included in this page are screen captures I took off the TV broadcast. It's a 16-year-old VHS tape, so I apologize for the graininess! Clive is gorgeous anyway.
'Class of '61' Links
- Class of '61 (1993) (TV) - Full cast and crew
The Internet Movie Database listing for 'Class of '61'
- Amazon.com: Class of \'61: Christien Anholt, Andre Braugher, Dan Futterman, Josh Lucas, Clive Owen,
Amazon.com: Class of '61: Christien Anholt, Andre Braugher, Dan Futterman, Josh Lucas, Clive Owen, Sophie Ward, Sue-Ann Leeds, Laura Linney, Niall O'Brien, Paul Guilfoyle (II), Dana Ivey, Frederick Rolf, Timothy Scott, Beverly Todd, Ed Wiley, Len Car
- Class of '61 Soundtrack Review