Charles Fuller adapted his Pulitzer Prize-winning A Soldier's Play for the big screen in 1984. The film version, A Soldier's Story is essentially a murder mystery, played out against a background of inter and intra-racial conflict at a Second World War training camp. To the consternation of his white opposite number at the camp, a black captain (Howard W Rollins) arrives to investigate the death of a black sergeant (Adolph Caesar). Suspicion immediately falls on a pair of bigoted white officers but as the tale unfolds in a series of flashbacks, it soon becomes clear... that a different kind of prejudice is also at work. Assisted by some excellent performances, director Norman Jewison opens the story out from its stage roots. There's a wonderful baseball scene (filmed on location at Little Rock) in which the double standards of Dennis Lipscomb's fidgety white captain are exposed with neat irony; he'll cheer his successful black team all the way home in the name of sport. His gradual, forced liberalisation provides the film with an important comic element. A Soldier's Story wears its heart on its sleeve without being superficial in any way. It's a compelling tale, well told and often highly entertaining, in which nobody gets off lightly, least of all the good guy. On the DVD: The widescreen presentation helps give an epic feel to what could, in other hands, have been a claustrophobic production. The picture quality is fine. But the monaural sound track is often rather muffled, leaving you straining to catch some of the dialogue. This is also a shame because the blues music--an inspired job by Herbie Hancock, assisted by Patti Labelle singing her lungs out as bar owner Big Mary--is an important element of the film's underlying theme and deserves to be better heard. The extras are valuable. Norman Jewison's commentary is detailed and sensitive. As he says, the film deals with "ideas in racism never seen on screen before", and he acknowledges the strength of his actors in getting those ideas across. "March to Freedom" is an excellent short documentary which features the moving testimonies of black servicemen on the insufferable prejudices they encountered while attempting to defend their country during the Second World War; A Soldier's Story is thus put sharply into context. --Piers Ford [show more]
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Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins) is a black US army attorney assigned to tackle the case of Sergeant Waters (Adolph Caesar), a black man who was brutally murdered at a training camp in Fort Neal, Louisiana. Davenport soon discovers that the murdered man was a ruthless and vicious bully, and begins to question the widely-held assumption that the murder was racially motivated. Based on Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize winning play, the film features most of the cast from the original stage production.
Please note this is a region 2 DVD and will require a region 2 (Europe) or region Free DVD Player in order to play. Tensions flare in this gripping film about a murder on a black army base near the end of World War II. Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins Jr.), a proud black army attorney, is sent to Fort Neal, Louisiana, to investigate the ruthless shooting death of Sergeant Waters (Adolph Caesar). Through interviews with Waters' men, Davenport learns that he was a vicious man who served the white world and despised his own roots. Was the killer a bigoted white officer? Or could he have been a black soldier embittered by Waters' constant race baiting? Directed by Norman Jewison from Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, A Soldier's Story is both a spellbinding mystery and a superb drama that transcends race. Actors Howard Rollins, Art Evans, Adolph Caesar, Dennis Lipscomb, Patti La Belle, Denzel Washington & Robert Townsend Director Norman Jewison Certificate 15 years and over Year 1984 Screen Widescreen 1.85:1 Languages Spanish ; French ; Italian ; German ; English - Dolby Digital Surround Subtitles Arabic, Bulgarian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish Duration 1 hour and 37 minutes (approx)