Chiefs (TV Mini-Series 1983) Poster

(1983)

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9/10
absolutely riveting with strong visuals
mollymischief30 March 2006
My entire family was riveted to the "Chiefs". I feel that it is one of the best written and casted films to this day. I'd promote this movie until I die. It was intelligently written, eluding to hideous crimes without the overkill of blood and gore. Anyone that appreciates old cars, old cycles and vivid acting would benefit to rent, buy or borrow Chiefs. I like to tell anyone that will listen that they will be on the edge of their seats for most of the movie. I was a teenager when it came on TV. To this day I can remember how I felt during the 'handlebar scene'. Sad to say, this movie's plot is the first thing I think of every time I hear of a disappearance or kidnapping in the real world. I'd rate this as one movie I would want on my TV line up once a year. A remake is in order if it could be cast with such strong actors again.
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10/10
Excellent adaptation.
Vassago28 December 2003
I still place Stuart Woods's "Chiefs" among the best police dramas ever written. Since I learned that a TV adaptation of the book was made, I've always wanted to see it, and, a few months ago, I finally bought the DVD release of the series. I actually did not expect much, but what I received surprised me - and it was a positive surprise. The series is an excellent adaptation of the novel and manages to do it justice, which is a rarity... as is the fact that very little of the book's plot is omitted. Certainly, some of the details - such as Will Henry's growing obsession with the mysterious murders, and the technical sides of his investigation - have to be treated superficially, but every important subplot and aspect of the book is present in the film; consequently, the series manages to be just as thrilling and involving as the novel. Amusingly enough, the credits on the box of the DVD misled me slightly - I assumed Charlton Heston, Keith Carradine and Billy Dee Williams would be playing the three chiefs, chronologically; of course, this is not the case.
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Great Cast, good history.
hlw2730 July 1999
If you like movies about dusty, small southern towns that are hiding a crime/mystery/secret, then this one's for you! It has all of the elements to keep you watching. Centered around the police chiefs of the town and serial killer, over a long period of time. Psssst....The men who play the police chiefs are all great actors.
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Superb story and performances by all
jnoecker3 July 2002
One little correction to a previous comment, the story begins in the early 1920's and goes through the mid 1960's. Although the murders are the thread that ties the 3 generations together, it is the evolution of a town, the growing pains of a culture, and the ultimate acceptance of those once rejected that makes the story. Charlton Heston is superb in his role as he "ages" through the generations, as is Keith Carradine.

One word of caution, if you haven't seen it be sure you get an uncut version. The full movie (originally a TV mini series in 3 parts)is about 4-1/2 hrs. There are several commercially produced versions out there of varying lengths. Some are so badly chopped up you miss key elements of the show.
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A Great Story
Sargebri27 July 2003
This is definitely one story I wish someone would either release on DVD or show on television again. This is a wonderful story that shows is a wonderful look at how life was in the south as shown through the eyes of three generations of police chiefs. Wayne Rogers is great in his role as the first chief, Will Henry Lee, and Brad Davis is great as the racist chief Sonny Butts. However, Billy Dee Williams gives an outstanding performance as Chief Tyler Watts (aka Joshua Cole), the chief who manages to break the case that had been dogging the town for years. Also, Keith Carradine plays the perfect killer in Foxy. His portrayal of the maniacal serial killer really gave you the impression that he had a dark side. But the performance that really surprised me was Charleton Heston as town founder, Hugh Holmes. Normally, I'm not the biggest fan of Mr. Heston, but he turned out an outstanding performance as the man who is the tie to the three generations of police chiefs. This mini-series is definitely a classic.
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9/10
I give this movie high ratings
LexDee3819 April 2004
I first watched this movie when it debuted on television in 1983, I was 19 years old. My whole family would get together each night for the ac- casion. I have to say, that even though the movie was quite long, it grapped at you for more and with that, it was well worth to watch. It has got to be the best "Chief" movie of all times. I loved it then and still feels the same for it now in 2004. I use to rent this movie to show other people who didn't get the chance to see it, and they all felt it was the best thing going. Even 21 years later, it's still the best thing going. I strongly recommend "CHIEFS" to all those who has not seen it. I applause all the characters especially Charlton Heston, what a great man. This is a must see.
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A Masterpiece
magellan33325 January 2001
This movie will grab you and keep you in it's grasp from beginning to end! You find yourself cheering for one of the bad guy's at one point. The entire film is acted very well and it is interesting to see the characters and town age and change over time. I think Charlton Heston did a great job, better than Andy Griffith would have done had he gotten the role as planned. It was originally a mini series and it might take you two or three sittings to see the entire film, but when it is over you will be glad you did.
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Stuart Woods's best book and film!
AbeStreet17 February 2004
This film was made at a time when the big networks, in this case CBS, took pride in making tv movies and mini-series. Excellent attention to detail in just about every aspect of this 3 part movies. As the film movies from the 1920's to the 1940's and eventually the 1960's the viewer gets to see the town of Delano Georgia grow and change. It almost seems as though Delano is a real town. The costumes, settings and props for each time setting are well done.

This mini-series stick very close to the original story written by Stuart Woods. During a 40 year time frame 3 different police chiefs try to solve the various and ongoing murders that are taking place in the vicinity of Delano. Young male transients are being kidnapped and sexually assaulted before they are murdered. Racial tensions run high in Delano and add to the difficulty in solving the murders. Good acting by all who participated. Charlton Heston, Paul Sorvino, Brad Davis and Billy Dee Williams were at the top of their acting game in this mini-Series.

I was able to tape the original 3 part mini-series when it was first aired and despite some drop in quality due to age this mini-series is a favorite of mine and viewed at least once a year. For those who enjoyed the film they may want to read and or watch the story and film GRASS ROOTS. This story continues to follow the Lee family as one of their members attempts to become a U.S. Senator. During the race another racially motivated murder in Delano complicates matters.
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9/10
One Good Mini Series
wlmlbl1 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
This was one of the best mini series I have seen. The plot was well written, and had a great cast. Charlton Heston was outstanding as Hugh Holmes, the man behind the town of Delano. It is a small southern town in need of a police chief. the mini series is in three parts, covering three generations. The first part is 1924. A meeting is held, and there are only two candidates for the job. One is a well known farmer, Will Henry Lee. The other is a World War I veteran named Foxy Funderburke. Foxy is breeding dogs, but a lot of people in the town think he is strange. Will Henry Lee is a fair man, and well liked. He has to deal with a county sheriff named Skeeter Willis. Willis is very bigoted, and has the backing of the Ku Klux Klan. Will Henry investigates a death, and leads him to begin an investigation of disappearing young men. As is turns out, they are being murdered by Foxy. Will Henry dies after being shot by a man that has malaria. The man mistakenly shoots Will Henry, and sends his son away before being executed for his crime. The second part takes place in 1945. Many of the towns soldiers are returning after the war, including a very bigoted Sonny Butts, who becomes police chief. He is involved in the beating of a returning veteran named Marshall Peters. Peters was set up in business by Hugh Holmes, and befriended by Will Henry Lee's son, Billy. Butts happens upon the investigation that Will Henry Lee began 20 years before, and goes to visit Foxy. Foxy kills Sonny, and buries him and his motorcycle. The third part takes place in 1962, and Delano is again in need of a police chief. Billy Lee is running for governor, and suggests a retiring army officer named Tyler Watts be given consideration for the job. Watts gets the job, and it is revealed that he is the son of the man that shot and killed Will Henry Lee almost 40 years before. Again young men are disappearing, and Tyler Watts begins an investigation of his own. He runs into trouble when he wants to search Foxy's property, but eventually does get permission to search the property. One of the agents there trips over what he thinks is a pipe, but it turns out it is the handlebar of Sonny's motorcycle buried almost 20 years before! Foxy gets his rifle and shoots Tyler, and then is shot by agents. More than 40 bodies are unearthed on his property. Billy, Tyler, and Hugh are saddened by what they have found out. In the end, Billy is elected governor, and Tyler reveals his true identity to Billy by recalling a conversation they had almost 40 years before. Billy is brought to tears as he realizes it is his long lost friend.
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the best
flippi99920 October 2003
This is the best miniseries ever put on TV.However, do not buy this in VCR format because scenes are cut out in order to save money and space.They record in EP so they can get most of the movie on it, however they still come up short. VCR 200 min. Original movie is close to 4 hrs Also the quality suffers. Thank You.
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Great Story: I would Give It A+
dlp21 February 2002
Charlton Heston, was a great narrator in this series. Through three generations, how murders were happening under their noses. The murderer was among them. Each Chief investigated the murders. I didn't like Sonny Butts. He was a womanizer and likewise wasn't police material. They should have found another Will Henry Lee. It did keep your attention. However you know the murderer, from the first.
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10/10
A Truly Great Southern Tale
griffic-219 May 2009
It's been a long time since I've seen this mini-series, but I recorded all three episodes on VHS back in the 80's (I think my mom may still have it). After finally reading Stuart Woods' original novel, it just took me back to how great the teleplay was (it was THAT faithful)!

It's a tale about murder, for sure. But it's a tale about the South specifically. Race relations, politics and family. It's gripping, suspenseful and even important.

All the performances are uniformly excellent. Charlton Heston, Wayne Rogers, Billy Dee Williams, Keith Carradine, Tess Harper, Paul Sorvino, Lane Smith, Victoria Tennant, Stephen Collins and Danny Glover are just some of the major performances noteworthy. There's a nice bunch of southern actors mixed in with the (inevitable) few non-southern ones. If one actor is to be singled out for their performances, it's Brad Davis. His brooding, explosive performance as the bullying racist Sonny Butts reminds one of the intensity of a young Jack Nicholson or Marlon Brando. I hear the heavily edited 200 minute version of CHIEFS has cut a lot of the Brad Davis chapter. Too bad!

Which brings me to the DVD release. WHERE IS IT? Seriously, considering all the TV movies that have been released on disc over the years, it's time for CHIEFS to get what it deserves: A handsome DVD release, digitally remastered in a multi-disc box set. Completely uncut. Is this too much to ask?
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Riveting Generational TV Thriller
ega5227 February 2004
Warning: Spoilers
SPOILER ALERT!!! Three generations of police chiefs struggle with changing times, racial issues, and a vicious serial killer in the southern town of Delano, spanning 40 years. The growing community's first official chief, a failed farmer played by Wayne Rogers, is hired by town patriarch Charlton Heston (narrating the tale and chewing the scenery a bit) in the 1920s much to the chagrin of veteran redneck county sheriff Paul Sorvino, who along with Heston's character has a role in each of the pivotal lawmen's lives. Sorvino predicts that Rogers is not tough enough for the job, and sure enough the first Chief is killed in a tragic shooting just as he is about to reveal the identity of the local oddball who is secretly a sexual murderer of hitchiking boys. The Chief's grown son (Stephen Collins) finds recognition as a WWII hero and returns to take a place in the town's political leadership, while sneering tough guy Sonny Butts (a terrific Brad Davis) comes home as well, joins the police force, and quickly makes a name for himself as the racist terror of Delano. After murdering an innocent black man (Danny Glover) Butts finds himself under investigation for that crime, attempted rape, and other offenses and sees a way out when he discovers the old chief's serial killer evidence. But before he can reveal what he knows and save his job and his skin, the killer takes him by surprise and he joins the lengthy list of missing victims, along with his fancy police motorcycle. 20 years later Stephen Collins is now a Senator who pulls strings to have Delano get its first black police chief (ass-kicking Billy Dee Williams),a war veteran who whips his good ole boy lawmen into shape. Amid skirmishes with unenlightened local yokels, bigoted cops from neighboring communities, and the Klan, the Senator is unaware that he and the black cop share a tragic-sweet childhood bond as he runs interference for the Chief's attempts to bring the aging serial murderer to justice. Great television miniseries as these things go. Very effective building of suspense, full of characters you love and hate. Acting heavyweights above as well as Keith Carradine, Tess Harper, Victoria Tennant, and John Goodman. Look for the little boy from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" as the son played later by Collins. Certainly no "Roots" but a must-have on my video shelf along with "Lonesome Dove", "Rich Man Poor Man" and "The Stand."
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10/10
Great Book & Greatest Mini-Series!
brendarobinsonyates-16 January 2009
So nice to hear of others who truly appreciate this story... so well written by Stuart Woods. A very good social-history/crime/drama very cleverly woven. I believe this was the best mini-series ever. Great casting and acting!!! I wish more people had seen this story! The thread about casting an updated remake is very interesting. Perhaps we'll see that one day! I'm starting to read some other Woods books. Very good continuity of the characters and themes. I'm a big fan! So nice to hear of others who truly appreciate this story... so well written by Stuart Woods. A very good social-history/crime/drama very cleverly woven. I believe this was the best mini-series ever. Great casting and acting!!! I wish more people had seen this story! The thread about casting an updated remake is very interesting. Perhaps we'll see that one day! I'm starting to read some other Woods books. Very good continuity of the characters and themes. I'm a big fan!
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10/10
waiting anxiously
graceegee10 February 2007
This movie is a must see. I first saw the movie when it came out on television as a mini-series. If you love drama, suspense, and mystery you will enjoy this movie. Each scene leaves you waiting for more. Being still in grade school, it opened up my eyes as to the many injustices life has. Although it is a fictionalized movie, life in the deep South is portrayed through characters that will have you either hating them or sympathizing with them. I have been searching all over for the DVD, but have yet to find it. I'm waiting patiently for its release on DVD. I have the VHS but it is wearing down because of its use. Again--can't wait for the DVD!!
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It was better than I remembered
cherieanne22 April 2000
I couldn't sleep last night after I watched it. I really enjoyed watching the movie. I watched it when it was first aired and again about 10 years ago and again last night. The acting was very even and very good. I was impressed that the local actors were as good as the "Hollywood" stars and future stars. Usually can tell the locals from professional actors 'cause they really stand out.
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10/10
Gripping mini-series that deserves more recognition
safenoe5 November 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Chiefs is an outstanding mini-series and if I had to take only one mini-series with me to a desert island, then Chiefs would be it.

On the face of it, it's about three generations of police chiefs in a town in the American south, but there's the undercurrent of a serial murderer on the loose. The first police chief, played by Wayne (M*A*S*H) Rodgers comes close to making an arrest. The second police chief Sonny Butts is incredibly malevolent and is the embodiment of police corruption, and he gets no sympathy at all, and you want to see him fall big time. But...and this is where things get tense...after Sonny is disgraced by his conduct, he then comes so close to arresting the serial killer that has eluded capture for many years. I can imagine viewers were left wondering...if Sonny had arrested the serial killer then he would be sheriff for life and cause and make life unbearable for the citizens. Anyway, the serial killer manages to finish off the sheriff before viewers are asked to consider this.
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10/10
Riveting and Classic. . .
nikita_59523 January 2001
This miniseries was released when I was 6 years old. I remember it clearly. I remember my family watching it and taping it. The fact that we still own the original old VHS tape that this movie is on should tell you something about the quality of this movie. We haven't seen fit to tape over it in 18 years. There aren't many things you can say that about today. This movie touches on everything--all the hard issues. Racism, abuse, runaways, murder, molestation, decline of family values, cowardice, fear, political scandal--shall I continue? In fact, it does more than touch on these things. It winds and weaves them all cohesively together into the tale, the story, the history, the life of a town called Delano and its people. This is all beautifully acted with performances from some of the greatest film legends. And I can assure that even if you don't recognize the name, the work is more than noteworthy.

I honestly can't tell you how many times I've watched and rewatched this miniseries over the years. The only problem I have is that I don't know how to get a hold of another copy. After nearly 2 decades, mine is pretty worn out.

I have seen this title for rent at the odd movie rental store over the years. If this sounds like your thing, pick it up and watch it. You most definitely will not be disappointed.
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7/10
Immersive storyline
*Prometheus*16 November 1998
If you like movies that involve the lives of people from their childhood to their death, mystery, history,a little action, and actors in their early years, then this is the show to watch. The story spans from the late 1800's to present day. It mainly centers around the various Chiefs of Police that were elected during that time frame, and how they changed the town. But the main center of the story is about a murder that happened in the early 1900's and how the murder is not discovered until present day,who did it, and how he hid it for so long. A very long movie, but worth watching.
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10/10
Outstanding on all counts.
bluesman-2014 November 2014
I've read the book by Stuart Woods and always wanted to see the mini series. It came out in 1983 and at that age of 14 I had no interest at the time for that kind of mini series or story. Now pushing 50 I found tastes change . I searched and found the movie on Youtube and watched it. And I was greatly rewarded for it. Chiefs is a thriller on a major level here. One they can't seem to do today. It begins with a murder. And As the small town of Delano grows the need for a police department is needed. And the first police chief is a modest humble farmer named Will Henry Lee. Will is a gentle man who does his best to live up to the responsibilities of the job. Soon after he begins a murdered boy is found on the outskirts of town. And Will Henry is given a murder case. He becomes obsessed with solving it as more boys are reported to have disparates near his town. Will Henry soon discovers Who the murderer is but he is killed before he can arrest him. Flash forward to 1946. Sonny Butts is a war hero. And a racist bully a drunkard and a man with a nasty streak a mile long. Sonny Butts becomes Police Chief and soon falls under the spell of Will Henry's old case. While he makes mistakes and breaks the law to enforce his racist sense of justice. He knows a murderer is on the loose. And while Sonny Butts is far from a good man he knows he cannot let this murderer go. While the Sins of Sonny's life are closing in around him. he figures the only way out of his trap is to bring the murderer in. Sonny Butts tries and is murdered by the killer. Flash Forward to 1962. And Delano is on the cusp of history the first southern town to hire a black Police Chief. Tyler Watts is a no nonsense former army major.He knows police procedure. And as Tyler not only fights for his life and his job he fights to bring in a murderer thanks to clues left by Will Henry and Sonny Butts. Three Generations of Police Chiefs chasing the same man . With one goal to bring a serial killer to justice.

That's the Story more or less. The Subplots are just as engrossing as the main story. Great acting by all involved .

Heston is the very heart of the story providing a moral voice . Wayne Rogers portrayal of a gentle man thrust into a hard and cruel job is a wonderful performance. Brad Davis portrays Sonny Butts a misguided man with a Heart of Darkness. And While his Sonny Butts isn't evil he really isn't a good man either. he is conflicted. And Brad Davis does it beautifully. But the Showcase performance here must go to Billy Dee Wiliams. Williams portrays Chief Tyler Watts as a man with a sense of justice. And a outrage for the injustices done by those who hide behind a badge or a white hood.

It's a complex story. a long movie but the payoff is worth watching. A classic story. That is well written . and it stays in the mind long after you see it.
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10/10
Chiefs
bogganpm2 January 2007
This is was the first Drama that I can remember viewing in my life, I give this movie two thumbs up, when it was first aired, it took two days for it to completely air, my favorite part was when the police chief was in the back yard and he said "I know they are here, I can feel it". This is a the first black movie in a while to grab the attention of the viewers beside Roots. It was the perfect time to come out, and with out the hanging of just Afro-American people, it showed that it is not only Afro-Americans that can kill there own kind(as they use to say back in the day) and stuff. Anyone that views this movie and say that it is not a EXCELLENT Movie. Must not know the struggle of all races that went through struggles back in the 40's - 60's. This movie depicted that all Afro-Americans are not dumb and have the capability to be just more than a colored person.

TWO THUMBS< EIGHT FINGER > AND TEN TOES UP.

Pamela Boggan Station in Djibouti Africa.
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10/10
Powerful realistic gripping drama of southern politics
gup7430 December 2006
I list this movie the all time greatest. For illustration of close system politics and how wrong and what evils this system can unknowingly defend on its principles of hard nosed justification. Its more than a story of human drama its a lesson that opens the mind. Thats how powerful this lesson is and Americans have a fundamental right to know the true and a duty to right the wrongs. Evil cannot last it will always be discovered and dismantled. It cannot be hidden in a document its content will speak boldly beyond reason. We can thank the directors and producers along with the actors. For this movie it is a beacon of light. I wonder why it was a mini-series but i'am glad it was.
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8/10
Chester, SC
bender_dave11 October 2018
I lived in Chester, where Chiefs was filmed, while I was in college. EVERYONE in town talked about the making of the movie, and their interaction with the actors that were in it. After several months, I rented the movie from the video store, and watched it with my family. It was such a nice movie, and we were able to see people whom we attended church, who were used as "extras." I bought the DVD a few years ago, and it was wild to see and compare what those actors look like then, compared to now. You will barely be able to recognize John Goodman!
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Great Series
evarts46 February 2017
Warning: Spoilers
I saw this series when it was on TV and then read the book. As usual, I loved the book more than the series, but overall the series was true to the novel.

The casting was perfect. Charlton Heston was great as Hugh Holmes, the guiding hand of Delano. Wayne Rogers played the first police chief of Delano. The next focused on was Sonny Butts, the "returning hero" from World War II who was vicious in his life and in the manner in which he executed his functions as Police Chief. Finally, Billy Dee Williams was superb as Chief Watts.

The series is available on DVD now, but I could not get it through Amazon. They have it listed today as currently unavailable. I did find it through eBay on DVD and new. Good luck if you are looking for it. This series is WELL worth watching!
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5/10
I vaguely remember this series
Arthur-nose12 August 2008
In the late 70s and early 80s, there was a craze for miniseries - not full soap operas like Dallas and Dysentery, but not short shows like The Twilight Zone, originally shown by ITV under the banner of Best Sellers.

One such miniseries was called Once Upon A Murder.

What does this have to do with Chiefs, I hear you ask? That's what the series was called when it first went out on ITV in the early 80s.

In about 1988, Channel Quatorze acquired what they said was a new series from America entitled Chiefs.

The programme recycled both the plot, characters and even the actors from ITV's miniseries Once Upon A Murder.

I believe that, later, some ITV regions rebroadcast it again under the name Chiefs: Once Upon A Murder.
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