February 19, 1979 12:00 PM

NBC (9 p.m. ET)

Wisely declining to clone the 1953 Burt Lancaster-Deborah Kerr epic, NBC produced a six-hour version (additional segments run Feb. 21 and 28) that may be even closer to James Jones’ bestseller about the Army just before Pearl Harbor. William Devane strips the polish Lancaster applied to the Sergeant Warden role, and the result is a fine portrayal of a tough topkick. His affair with Natalie Wood—perfect as the spoiled officer’s wife—is steamier than the movie treatment. Steve Railsbach as Prewitt, the bugler; Kim Basinger as a prostitute; Peter Boyle as the sadistic Fatso, and Joe Pantoliano as Maggio, the role that brought Sinatra back from obscurity, are also good enough to forestall nostalgia for the earlier version.

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