Soldier's Story

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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. ...
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William Allen Young, Howard E. Rollins Jr., Robert Townsend, Larry Riley, Dennis Lipscomb, David Harris, David Alan Grier,... 08/31/1999 DVD New 1984 Run time: 101. Free ... upgrade to 1st class shipping on all domestic orders under 13OZ. Read more Show Less

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DVD New in new packaging. 1984 Run time: 101.

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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.
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Special Features

Interactive menus; Production notes; Languages: English 2-channel [Dolby Surround], Spanish; Subtitles: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese, Korean, Thai; "March to Freedom" documentary narrated by Paul Winfield; Director Norman Jewison's commentary; Original theatrical trailer; Bonus theatrical trailer; Scene selections; Full screen and widescreen formats
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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).
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/31/1999
  • UPC: 043396040892
  • Original Release: 1984
  • Rating:

  • Source: Sony Pictures
  • Region Code: 1
  • Aspect Ratio: Pre-1954 Standard (1.33.1), Theatre Wide-Screen (1.85.1)
  • Presentation: Wide Screen / Pan & Scan
  • Sound: Dolby Digital Surround
  • Language: English, Español
  • Time: 1:41:00
  • Format: DVD

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Howard E. Rollins Jr. Capt. Davenport
Adolph Caesar Master Sgt. Waters
Dennis Lipscomb Capt. Taylor
Art Evans Private Wilkie
Patricia Holt Big Mary
Denzel Washington Pfc. Peterson
David Alan Grier Cpl. Cobb
Wings Hauser Lt. Byrd
Larry Riley Pvt. CJ Memphis
Tom Howard
Bobby McGee
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
Tom 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
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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]
Read More Show Less

Menu

Side #1 -- WIDESCREEN
   Play Movie
   Languages/Audio
      English 2-Channel (Dolby Surround)
      Spanish-Español
   Subtitles
      English
      Spanish-Español
      Portuguese-Português
      Chinese
      Korean
      Thai
      No Subtitles
   Special Features
      "March To Freedom" Documentary narrated by Paul Winfield
      Director Norman Jewison's Commentary: On
      Director Norman Jewison's Commentary: Off
      Theatrical Trailers
         A Soldier's Story
         Also starring Denzel Washington...Devil In A Blue Dress
Side #2 -- FULL SCREEN
   Play Movie
   Languages/Audio
      English 2-Channel (Dolby Surround)
      Spanish-Español
   Subtitles
      English
      Spanish-Español
      Portuguese-Português
      Chinese
      Korean
      Thai
      No Subtitles
   Special Features
      "March To Freedom" Documentary narrated by Paul Winfield
      Director Norman Jewison's Commentary: On
      Director Norman Jewison's Commentary: Off
      Theatrical Trailers
         A Soldier's Story
         Also starring Denzel Washington...Devil In A Blue Dress
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 22, 2012

    Without a doubt, this is one of the finest films made. I cannot

    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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    A Soldier's Story is an excellent story

    ''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.

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