This sweeping epic dramatized the lives of two Georgia families during the early-to-mid 1800s: the Kendricks, who resided on the Beulah Land plantation, and the Davises, who owned the Oaks plantation. Both families loved, prospered and lost during this period, and were both touched by the events of the Civil War.
Epic southern saga
Like Gone With The Wind, Beulah Land is centered around the figure of a southern belle who turns out to have the right stuff to see her’s and another family through the tribulations of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Lesley Ann Warren is the central character here. When we first meet her she’s in the best fiddle-dee-dee tradition of Scarlett O’Hara. But she’s married to Paul Rudd who is weak and self indulgent. Gradually she takes over as head of the family and doing the running of the plantation while Rudd pursues his vices along with neighbor Don Johnson who marries Rudd’s sister.
The prominent black role in Beulah Land is that of Dorian Harewood who is manumitted free and actually becomes the overseer of the plantation known as Beulah Land that Warren runs. Between the two of them they pull both the blacks and whites through a few crises.
The Union Army is hardly seen as liberators. A great of emphasis is placed on General Sherman’s war waged on the Southern aristocracy. In particular his ‘Bummer’s Brigades’ whose mission was to rob and pillage and take their pleasures when they find them.
Though it covers the same ground as Gone With The Wind and a great deal more before and after, Beulah Land when you come right down to it is more like a southern fried Peyton Place. Between the two families, the Kendricks and Davises there’s a lot of sex going on for three generations plus the outsiders drawn in. No doubt the sex sold Beulah Land to the reading public.
Besides those I’ve mentioned pay attention to Meredith Baxter who is Warren’s sister who disgraces her class by going on stage and marrying an actor. She gets disowned, but comes back in Reconstruction to settle some scores.
It’s not Gone With The Wind, neither is it Roots. Beulah Land is good drama with more sex than history.