Soldier's Story

Soldier's Story

5.0 2
Director: Norman Jewison, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Dennis Lipscomb

Cast: Norman Jewison, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Adolph Caesar, Dennis Lipscomb

     
 

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Inspired by the Herman Melville novel Billy Budd, writer Charles Fuller created the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, which he then adapted into this film drama in 1984, for socially conscious, liberal director Norman Jewison. In the racially-divided 1940s, Fort Neal, Louisiana, is a military base where black soldiers are sent not to fight in WWII

Overview

Inspired by the Herman Melville novel Billy Budd, writer Charles Fuller created the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play, which he then adapted into this film drama in 1984, for socially conscious, liberal director Norman Jewison. In the racially-divided 1940s, Fort Neal, Louisiana, is a military base where black soldiers are sent not to fight in WWII but to play baseball against other armed forces teams. The murder of a black sergeant, Waters (Adolph Caesar) brings an investigator, Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins, Jr.) to the base. Davenport, the first black officer that most of the men have ever met, suspects that a pair of white men were responsible for Waters' death, but his probe reveals that nearly everyone, regardless of skin color, had ample reason to kill the loathsome but pitiable Waters. The cast of A Soldier's Story features early supporting performances from several African-American actors who would go on to greater prominence, including Denzel Washington, David Alan Grier, and Robert Townsend. The film was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Caesar) and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
This occasionally preachy but mostly intense, intelligent and captivating racially provocative drama was adapted for the screen by Charles Fuller from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play. The turbulent setting -- a Southern military base during World War II -- and the murder mystery at the center of the plot allow the film to explore the issue of racism in unexpectedly complex manner. Director Norman Jewison (In the Heat of the Night) is right at home with this sort of material, and evokes a series of excellent performances from his largely unknown cast. Most of the Negro Ensemble Company cast that appeared in the original stage production reprise their roles in A Soldier's Story. Making notable appearances are future stars like Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend and David Alan Grier, but the film really belongs to Adolph Caesar, whose performance as a tyrannical, vicious and masochistic army sergeant resulted in a deserved Academy Award best supporting actor nomination. Inspired by Herman Melville's Billy Budd, the film is more about character study and self-examination than whodunit. Howard Rollins Jr., who leads the investigation into the murder, is a sympathetic figure, but a bit too unfocused to stay in our memories when compared with the superbly defined performance of Caesar, who appropriately enough gets the film's last words. The score by Herbie Hancock and bluesy musical support of Patti LaBelle also contribute well to the film's atmosphere. A Soldier's Story was nominated for three Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Caesar) and Adapted Screenplay (Fuller).

Product Details

Release Date:
12/07/2010
UPC:
0014381689723
Original Release:
1984
Rating:
PG
Source:
Image Entertainment
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:37:00
Sales rank:
11,877

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Howard E. Rollins Capt. Davenport
Adolph Caesar Master Sgt. Waters
Dennis Lipscomb Capt. Taylor
Art Evans Private Wilkie
Patti LaBelle Big Mary
Denzel Washington Pfc. Peterson
David Alan Grier Cpl. Cobb
Wings Hauser Lt. Byrd
Larry Riley Pvt. CJ Memphis
Tom Howard Actor
Bobby McGee Actor
David Harris Pvt. Smalls
Robert Townsend Cpl. Ellis
William Allen Young Private Henson
Scott Paulin Capt. Wilcox
John Hancock Sgt. Washington
Trey Wilson Col. Nivens
Patricia Brandkamp Ida Nivens
John Valentine Umpire
Michael Williams Barracks Soldier

Technical Credits
Norman Jewison Director,Producer
Caroline Biggerstaff Editor
Russell Boyd Cinematographer
Reuben Cannon Casting
Thomas Dawson Costumes/Costume Designer
Greg W. Elam Stunts
Charles Fuller Original Story,Screenwriter
Herbie Hancock Score Composer
Walter Scott Herndon Production Designer
Melvin Jones Stunts
Charles Milhaupt Associate Producer
Patrick Palmer Producer
Thomas Roysden Set Decoration/Design
Ronald L. Schwary Producer
Peter Sova Cinematographer
Chuck Velasco Costumes/Costume Designer
Mark Warner Editor
Charles Wilborn Musical Direction/Supervision,Sound/Sound Designer

Scene Index

Side #1 -- WIDESCREEN
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [3:51]
2. Dead drunk [:51]
3. Precautions [2:04]
4. Captain Davenport [3:06]
5. Colonel Nivens [4:15]
6. Captain Taylor [5:53]
7. Private Wilkie [1:33]
8. Spit & polish [1:42]
9. C. J. Memphis [3:10]
10. Mr. Warm & Mr. Cold [2:48]
11. Private Peterson [1:26]
12. A real big day [2:24]
13. The Mess Hall [9:45]
14. The lesson [3:53]
15. Off the record [2:55]
16. Byrd & Wilcox [3:58]
17. No authority [3:48]
18. Private Henson [1:25]
19. The shooting [6:18]
20. Corporal Cobb [2:37]
21. The stockade [5:54]
22. Officers Club [5:37]
23. Requestioning Wilkie [1:42]
24. Crazy kind of hate [5:19]
25. Awol [2:06]
26. Private Smalls [1:36]
27. Killing Sgt. Waters [5:42]
28. Off to war [4:57]
Side #2 -- FULL SCREEN
0. Scene Selections
1. Start [3:51]
2. Dead drunk [:51]
3. Precautions [2:04]
4. Captain Davenport [3:06]
5. Colonel Nivens [4:15]
6. Captain Taylor [5:53]
7. Private Wilkie [1:33]
8. Spit & polish [1:42]
9. C. J. Memphis [3:10]
10. Mr. Warm & Mr. Cold [2:48]
11. Private Peterson [1:26]
12. A real big day [2:24]
13. The Mess Hall [9:45]
14. The lesson [3:53]
15. Off the record [2:55]
16. Byrd & Wilcox [3:58]
17. No authority [3:48]
18. Private Henson [1:25]
19. The shooting [6:18]
20. Corporal Cobb [2:37]
21. The stockade [5:54]
22. Officers Club [5:37]
23. Requestioning Wilkie [1:42]
24. Crazy kind of hate [5:19]
25. Awol [2:06]
26. Private Smalls [1:36]
27. Killing Sgt. Waters [5:42]
28. Off to war [4:57]

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Soldier's Story 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
jadvik More than 1 year ago
Without a doubt, this is one of the finest films made. I cannot remember if it was ever nominated for an Academy Award but if it wasn't it would have to considered as one of the greatest snubs in film history. With the exception of maybe a few, the acting is absolutely stellar. In fact, the acting is so good, one would have a very difficult time trying to decide who should be nominated for any actor award. I personally believe Denzel Washington was at his acting best. It also allows us to see just how good Howard Rollins was as an actor. It is a shame he is gone. In any event, if you collect movies or are just love a good movie, this should be a must see.
Guest More than 1 year ago
''A Soldier's Story'' is one of the most exciting and original movies ever made. Telling the story of the murder of the black fascist Sgt. Waters (Adolph Caesar) and Cpt. Davenport (Howard E. Rollins, Jr.), who is sent to a Army base in the deep south to report his findings on who actually killed him. This movie is a combination mystery, musical, drama, and comedy. Also, the talent in this movie is near flawless, with performances by the late Howard E. Rollins, Jr., David Allen Grier, Robert Townsend, Art Evans, Denzel Washington, Pattie LaBelle and more. Norman Jewison directs a movie which is continuously believeable and Rollins leads it with phenomenal strength and he leads the movie to a wonderful ending. ''A Soldier's Story'' introduces a side of black culture that no one had ever seen onscreen at this time. I remember seeing it in the early 90's (being that I was a toddler when it came out in '84), and a decade later, it is even better.