The Americans is an American drama series that aired on NBC from January to May 1961. The series is set during the American Civil War, and is seen through the eyes of brothers on opposite sides of the conflict.
The series was inspired by James Warner Bellah's 1953 novel The Valiant Virginians which was serialized in the Saturday Evening Post as Tales of the Valorous Virginians from May 9, 1953 through June 10, 1954. The novel was an arc of separate stories on the impact of the war on the young men fighting it. The series focuses upon Ben (Union Army) and Jeff Canfield (Confederacy).
The series was part of the United States' commemoration of the Centennial of the beginning of the Civil War. It came on the air as a mid-season replacement for the canceled western series, Riverboat, broadcast in the 7:30–8:30 PM timeslot on Monday evenings.
Ben Canfield was played by Darryl Hickman; Jeff Canfield was played by Richard Davalos—they were the only two actors who appeared in every episode of the series. The other actors usually appear in only a single episode. Several actors, however, played the same role in more than one episode:
Among the more well-known actors to appear in this series were Jack Lord, Michael Rennie, Nina Foch, Lee Marvin, Dan O'Herlihy, Robert Culp, James Franciscus, Jack Elam, Susan Oliver, Brian Keith, Ray Walston, Lloyd Bochner, Dick York, Jackie Coogan, L.Q. Jones, Carroll O'Connor, and Robert Redford.
Seventeen one-hour episodes were broadcast, although either twenty-one or twenty-six episodes were made. Episodes were written by, among others, John Gay (screenwriter for the film Run Silent Run Deep and of many television adaptions of literary classics), William D. Gordon (who also acted in at least one episode), Andy Lewis (writer of the movie Klute), Carey Wilber (writer of the Star Trek episode Space Seed), and Pat Falken Smith (head writer in the 1970s and 1980s for the soap operas Days of Our Lives and General Hospital). Music for the series was created by composers Bernard Herrmann and Hugo Friedhofer. Henry Steele Commager was the historical consultant.
A tie-in novel of the same name, written by Donald Honig, was released in paperback by Popular Library publishers in 1961.
First-run episodes of the series aired January 23, 1961 through May 15, 1961; repeats aired from May 22, 1961 through September 11, 1961.
- Episode 1: Harper's Ferry (broadcast January 23, 1961)
- The Canfield family finds itself split down the middle after the Civil War breaks out when Confederate forces attack the Union arsenal at Harpers Ferry.
- Episode 2: Rebellion at Blazing Rock (broadcast January 30, 1961)
- Jeff finds two men, one Confederate and one Yankee, preparing to stage a mock battle.
- Michael Rennie played Capt. James Duquesne
- Ray Daley ... Bugler
- John Howard ... Capt. Chilcoath
- Karen Sharpe ... Louanne Higgins
- Adam Williams ... Wilcott
- Episode 3: The Regular (broadcast February 6, 1961)
- A regular-army sergeant, delivering guns to a volunteer unit, is shocked at how badly trained they are.
- Kathleen Crowley played Lucy Vickery
- Ken Drake ... Bravo
- William D. Gordon ... Lt. Barnes
- Maurice Manson ... Mayor Cahill
- William Murray ... Craigie
- Kent Smith ... Capt. Vickery
- Episode 4: The Rebellious Rose (broadcast February 13, 1961)
- The beautiful Rose Greenbow serves the Confederacy by charming susceptible Union officials into talking too much. When Jeff comes to Washington, Rose charms him into committing murder.
- Charles Aidman ... Capt. Wheeler
- Nina Foch ... Rose Greenbow
- Martin Gabel ... Tim Mayhew
- Episode 5: On to Richmond (broadcast February 20, 1961)
- Ben sees that his volunteer soldiers are not the combat professionals he needs for the upcoming battle at Bull Run.
- Diana Millay ... Emma Templeton
- Episode 6: Half Moon Road (broadcast February 27, 1961)
- Jeff goes deep into the backwoods to recruit sharpshooters for the Confederate army.
- James Barton ... Old Goodwin
- Enid Jaynes ... Melissa (as Enid Janes)
- Jack Lord ... Charlie Goodwin
- George Mitchell ... Preacher
- Episode 7: Reconnaissance (broadcast March 6, 1961)
- Jeff is assigned to sneak through enemy lines to gather information, where he discovers his brother Ben is among the Union soldiers stationed there.
- Diane Jergens ... Sally
- Lee Marvin ... Capt. Judd
- Don Megowan ... Lt. Fairfax
- Jan Stine ... Hollis
- Brad Weston ... Cpl. Blackburn
- Episode 8: The Escape (broadcast March 13, 1961)
- Col. Fry and Ben are captured and sent to the Confederate POW camp at Libby Prison.
- Dayton Lummis ... Maj. Turner
- Dan O'Herlihy ... Col. Fry
- Episode 9: The Guerrillas (broadcast March 20, 1961)
- A band of guerrillas lays siege to a town torn apart by the war.
- Norman Alden ... Paine
- Robert Culp ... Finletter
- Cyril Delevanti ... Canfield
- Berry Kroeger ... Keezer
- Paul Lambert ... Hudson
- Strother Martin ... Wadd
- Sonya Wilde ... Caroline
- Episode 10: The Invaders (broadcast March 27, 1961)
- After a Union force takes over a Confederate town, its captain orders the Confederate flag taken down. Outraged, an elderly resident of the town fires at him.
- Steve Brodie ... Sgt. Rafer
- Myrna Fahey ... Ruth
- James Franciscus ... Lt. Hannon
- Frank Gerstle ... Capt. Bice
- Ian Wolfe ... Sever
- Episode 11: The Gun (broadcast April 3, 1961)
- Jeff is ordered to capture Union cannons.
- Robert Carlyle ... Sergeant
- Lonny Chapman ... Chester Longbaugh
- Jack Elam ... Loper Johnson
- Susan Oliver ... Rachel
- Episode 12: The Sentry (broadcast April 10, 1961)
- Three Confederates are assigned to sabotage an important railroad trestle.
- Ben Cooper ... Ward Roberts
- Robert Hastings ... Lieutenant
- Brian Keith ... Owen
- Judson Pratt ... Sgt. Willers
- Episode 13: The Bounty Jumpers (broadcast April 17, 1961)
- Ben goes undercover to gather evidence on a criminal ring that specializes in phony recruits.
- Larry Gates ... Maj. Eustice Cary
- Anne Helm ... Dulcie Morrow
- Gene Lyons ... Col. Elgin
- Murvyn Vye ... Police Lieutenant
- Ray Walston ... Whit Bristow
- Episode 14: Long Way Back (broadcast April 24, 1961)
- A group of Missouri farmers capture Jeff.
- Patricia Barry ... Jessica
- Charles Bickford ... Peterson
- Ron Nicholas ... Scout
- Walter Sande ... Jayhawker
- Episode 15: The War Between the States (broadcast May 1, 1961)
- Ben is worried when his best friend falls for a Confederate girl.
- Lloyd Bochner ... Lt. Brady
- Lisabeth Hush ... Rebel girl
- John McGiver ... Col. Allen
- Lurene Tuttle ... Mrs. Allen
- Dick York ... Bolick
- Episode 16: The Coward (broadcast May 8, 1961)
- A soldier convicted of cowardice under fire and sentenced to death has his execution delayed. However, two of the soldiers in his company are determined to see the sentence carried out, even if they have to do it themselves.
- Jackie Coogan ... Rowe
- L.Q. Jones ... Yonts
- Carroll O'Connor ... Capt. Garbor
- Robert Redford ... George Harrod
- Episode 17: The Inquisitors (broadcast May 15, 1961)
- The U.S. Congress wants answers about some disastrous battle results for the Union Army.
- Robert Gist ... Gen. Charles P. Stone
- Marsha Hunt ... Jeanie Stone
- Robert Middleton ... Sen. Benjamin Wade
- ^ York, Neil Longely (2001) "Fiction As Fact: The Horse Soldiers and Popular Memory" Kent State University Press ISBN 0-87338-688-4, page 157 (Footnote 27)
- ^ a b The Americans webpage of the Classic Television Archive website
- ^ Honig, Donald (1961) "The Americans" Popular Library ASIN B000MH5BVE
- ^ The Americans, by Donald Honig webpage in the Amazon book section