The Execution of Private Slovik (TV Movie 1974) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
26 Reviews
Sort by:
Extraordinary, heart-breaking tale of injustice.
gfe2216 August 2001
This is a film that will leave you crying, angry and filled with righteous indignation, as it should.

Of the thousands of GI's who deserted during WW2, only one, Eddie Slovik, paid the ultimate price. His story is one of sheer bad luck on an appalling scale. Having done time for a minor offence (it was Grand Theft Auto), Slovik is determined to put the past behind him and start afresh. He gets a job, finds a wife and settles down, happy in the knowledge that his prison record means he's a 4F when it comes to military service. But when the army changes the rules and he registers as 1A, he finds himself in a situation he's emotionally unable to cope with.

Eddie Slovik should never have been on the front line. He was terrified of guns and at boot camp they had to cheat to get him through the rifle range. Right from the start it was clear this was not the sort of man any soldier would want defending his rear, since he was incapable of doing it. Despite this, he was sent into Europe after the D-Day landings. Separated from his platoon he found a niche for himself as a forager for a Canadian unit and there, frankly, he should have stayed. When ordered back to his own unit, which was on the front line, he deserted, having made his situation plain. It's a downhill run from there.

The film uses actual letters written by Slovik and comments from people who knew him to fill out the background of this tragic story. Sheer bad timing, combined with a belief that no one would see the sentence through (since it had never been down before) contributes to the film's heartbreaking conclusion.

Martin Sheen's performance is stunning. He manages to capture the pathos, fear, confusion and final terrified resignation of the man in the face of the inevitable. Slovik is the victim of fate and circumstance; the little guy, totally unprepared for the world in which he finds himself, more than willing to apply those skills he does possess to the war effort, but incapable of fulfilling what the army demands of him. While you can appreciate the army's need to make a point, you are left with the unalterable conclusion that here they picked the wrong man.

This film left me feeling extremely angry, and it's a rare one that does that. It also made me want to find out more about the circumstances surrounding the events and I was pleasantly surprised to find the film, by and large, stuck to historical fact.

Highly recommended.
39 out of 45 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Pretty Well Balanced
rudge492 June 2009
I read the book in 1970 or so when I was in the Army, I thought the movie was pretty well balanced. The book starts with Huie visiting the "Dishonored Dead" section of the US Oise-Aisne Cemetery in France where Slovik was initially buried-his remains were repatriated in 1987. The author keeps asking why only one death sentence carried out and why Slovik, why if the purpose was to make an example of him was the execution carried out in secrecy. From there he goes into Slovik's troubled youth, his criminal record which initially protected him from the draft. But as the Drill Sergeant tells him and his fellow recruits in Basic, "You guys are the bottom of the barrel. But now the heat's one, Uncle Same needs bodies, and the bottom of that barrel is starting to look mighty good." Armies-and the governments they serve-have a funny way of lowering their standards as wars drag on. The official name of the Draft in the USA was (and is) Selective Service, by 1943 they were a lot less selective. Slovik was a good example of what WWII GIs called "The Sad Sack" (in my day, 1967-1971, a "dud", in civilianese we might say a loser.

One poster said Slovik gambled and lost, a very apt description. He repeatedly declared he would desert if given the chance, he was given a chance to redeem himself, he refused-I can clearly recall the scene where he tells the JAG officer "I want my court martial." Eisenhower hoped he could equal Pershing's record of no executions for desertion, but as the author notes he had a lot of other things on his plate. The author notes the court martial was made up of rear echelon officers, he notes the presence of some combat arms officers would have been better but they were otherwise engaged. I recall the scene where the president of the court reads the written secret ballots, realizes the vote is unanimous for death, tells the others "Let's have another cigarette and think about this."

Worth watching, very true to the source, this is one you watch and you draw your own conclusions.
9 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
This movie still haunts me
Even now, 25+ years later I remember this movie. It made an impact on me.

I've only seen it twice, but it still hurts me to remember it. As the execution is played out, you hear Bing Crosby sing "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas". Every time I hear that song, the memory of that movie floods me with terrible, sad feelings.

22 out of 26 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
First hand observer
hbm-128 September 2005
I was there when Slovik was murdered. I heard very few GIs condemning Slovik. Eisenhower received universal criticism for his cowardly decision. Making an example of someone seldom has the desired effect. I was a M/Sgt but saw the dire consequences of Commisioned Officers' decisions costing many lives unnecessarily. None of them were ever court martialled for that.. Slovik's not fighting cost less lives than Officers' mistakes. I try to remember only the Good things of that War as few as they are. I watched the movie only a short while and it brought back so many bad memories I couldn't watch the rest. Since then, I don't watch war movies, the Real thing can never be portrayed via the Media.
33 out of 42 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Injustice: Military style
yenlo13 April 2000
I saw this made for TV film when it originally came out. Martin Sheens star was rising and the network that broadcast it hyped it pretty well but didn't over do it. It has a number of documentary type scenes in it which keeps the whole story of Slovik on track . The story was going to be made into a film a number of years earlier with Steve McQueen in the title role but some political pressure blocked it. The fact is Eddie Slovik wasn't the only American soldier executed in WWII. He was the only one executed for desertion. All these years later his execution clearly was something that shouldn't have taken place. The officers who made the decision to shoot him were more than likely worrying not about his life but about their life and military career. Even though the viewer knows that Pvt Slovik will be executed the scene in which he is led out, tied up, hooded, last rites given then shot is very moving. Ned Beatty turns in a good performance as an Army Chaplain. Another film that has an Army execution scene in it that will grip the viewer is `The Victors' Check that one out as well.
19 out of 23 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
very fine film
jdmartin6125 January 2007
I am 45 years old and I watched this 'Movie Of The Week' on TV when it was new. As I grew older I saw it again and would notice certain things that I didn't see when I was younger. The TV Movies, now called TV Mini-series were so much better in the early to mid 1970s, I think.

Now, I would find it very hard to watch because many people believe Pvt. Slovik should not have been executed considering the overall circumstances and also because of so many other experiences over my years. This film helped shaped my heartfelt opposition to the death penalty. I'm happy to say that I have always respected the work of Martin Sheen and his sons over the years.

John Martin, Fort Worth, Texas
12 out of 14 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Bryce Rumbles10 October 2003
This has been one of my favorite films since it was first broadcast back in '74. I read William Bradford Huie's book, from which the film is based, and I also recommend it highly.

This should be required viewing for anyone who claims to be a WWII buff, like myself. It helps you see some of the truth of military life that isn't in the purvue of such excellent works as Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and that other "other side of the WWII Army" movie, Catch-22.

Who do we have to harass to get this released on DVD??
21 out of 28 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Bring on the DVD!
tarmcgator13 July 2007
It's been many years since I last saw "The Execution of Private Slovik," and I look forward to its release (someday soon, please!) on DVD. In particular, I recall a terrific performance by Ned Beatty.

Those who condemn this film as an anti-military screed should reconsider. The tenor of most war films of the early 1970s was undoubtedly influenced by a national revulsion with the war in Vietnam (which, unfortunately, was taken out far too often on the Americans who fought there). But the impetus to get beyond the "triumphalism" of most American war films of the '40s, '50s, and '60s would eventually lead to "Platoon," "Saving Private Ryan," and "Blackhawk Down," films that respected fighting men by demonstrating more effectively the hell that they endure. "The Execution of Private Slovik" was an excellent effort to get beyond the myth of "The Good War" and demonstrate that war inevitably degrades and damages all who are involved.

As to whether Eddie Slovik deserved his fate: Slovik was an emotionally troubled young man who never should have been put into combat in the first place, but as the U.S. casualties began to mount in the ETO in the fall of 1944, his requests for non-combat duty were rejected and he was sent to a rifle company as a replacement. He was a "coward" in the traditional sense of the word, but he was only one of more than 21,000 U.S. servicemen convicted of desertion during WWII. Of the 49 who were condemned to death for desertion, Slovik was the only one actually executed; all the others had their sentences commuted to prison time. (Another 141 U.S. servicemen was executed by the U.S. government during the war, all for the crimes of murder and rape.) If justice is supposed to be fair and impartial, it certainly appears that Slovik was singled out as an example to deter other would-be deserters. Why Slovik? One of the officers who sat on his court-martial would write years later that his execution was "an historic injustice."

See: /articles/magazine/ah/1987/6/1987_6_97.shtml Army/deserters.html /story/index.cfm?id=103&category=people

My father was an infantryman in the Philippines and was injured in combat a few weeks after Slovik was executed. I'm glad my father and millions of other Americans overcame their fear and did their duty, but Slovik didn't deserve death for his "cowardice." Punishment, yes; dishonor, perhaps. But not a firing squad.

Note: The execution of Slovik (though the soldier is never named) also was depicted, briefly, in an earlier antiwar film, "The Victors," directed by Carl Foreman and released in 1963. The scene is played without dialog; in a savagely ironic gesture, the execution is played out while Frank Sinatra croons "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on the soundtrack. Even more ironically, Sinatra himself once owned the film rights to William Bradford Huie's book, "The Execution of Private Slovik," but he sold them to another person before Richard Levinson and William Link obtained the rights to make this film. "The Victors" is an excellent film in its own right -- until it comes out on DVD, catch it if you can!
6 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
"Execution of Private Slovik" is interesting piece of WWII history
chuck-reilly10 June 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Since only one US serviceman has been executed for desertion since the Civil War, "The Execution of Private Slovik" stands out as a unique piece of history. But Private Slovik wasn't the only US Serviceman executed during World War II, just the only one executed for "desertion." Over a hundred GIs were executed after D-Day for a variety of offenses during the final year of the war, and many of them were Black soldiers. Their story has yet to be told. This movie concentrates on Eddie Slovik, a manipulative and somewhat dim-witted private who believes that the worst thing that can happen to him is a short prison sentence at Fort Leavenworth. Unfortunately for him, desertion during the brutal Battle of the Bulge was becoming a big problem for the US Army command, and Slovik's "open and shut" case gave the brass just the "example" they were looking for.

Martin Sheen does fine work here in one of his more memorable roles. He portrays the nervous and misguided Slovik as someone who has convinced himself that his earlier career in petty crime is the basis for all his troubles. Ned Beatty matches him with a sterling performance as the chaplain assigned to remain with Slovik during his ordeal. The movie stays close to the facts and tries its best to steer clear of any easy judgments. It's obvious that Slovik would've received a lighter sentence in a civilian court, but Army justice in 1945 was harsh, swift and unforgiving. In reality, Slovik had few friends and the firing squad, made up of his former comrades-in-arms, didn't flinch when the order to "FIRE!" rang out. They firmly believed that Slovik got what he deserved. Viewers may be split on that verdict. Significantly, it was future US president General Dwight D. Eisenhower who gave the final approval for Slovik's execution. According to all reliable historians, Ike didn't lose any sleep over the decision.
4 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Great movie, not really history though ...
arjunahawaii7 July 2004
I'm surprised at the number of reviewers who've viewed this movie as if it were actually history -- it is not. Well, it IS history if your idea of documentary history includes such fare as Oliver Stone's "JFK" -- which is heavy on Drama, however light on actual facts. This movie should not be viewed as pristine untainted, unpoliticized history. When viewing this movie, one should keep in mind the political bent of Hollywood, especially in light of the fact that this movie was released in the closing months of America's Vietnam era, when Hollywood was VERY anti-war.

This movie takes a real event, the execution of Private Slovik, and dresses it up to produce a Drama that will hold your attention, while attempting to subtly impart a clearly political message. The message? War is wrong, military agencies and the U.S. government are generally inept, and passivists are actually tortured hero's.

In fact though, Private Slovik WAS a deserter. In fact, Private Slovik was given many chances to recant his status as deserter -- but refused. In fact, as a member of the armed services in WWII, he knew that the penalty for desertion could be death. The fact that he was the only person executed for desertion does not mitigate the fact that his execution was justified. An argument can be made that the US Army did not properly carry out the UCMJ by executing everyone that was convicted of desertion, but no argument can be made that Private Slovik's execution was unjust. His execution was completely in accordance with military law and tradition.

This movie does a poor job of actually portraying Private Slovik, the real man. The fact is, Private Slovik was a man of dubious upbringing who was out for himself during an extremely critical time in our planet's history when freedom itself was in the balance. The people he refused to fight against, were Nazi's -- probably the most extreme evil movement that has ever reared it's head in the history of the earth. That movement was responsible for the near extinction of the Jewish race. Particularly telling to me is the fact that, as the son of Polish immigrants, Private Slovik was unwilling to fight the very movement that kept the Polish people in chains.

The men and women (and yes, there were women) who fought the Nazi's -- not the people who didn't -- are the real hero's. Private Slovik was a confused and unfortunate man who always seemed to make the wrong decisions (mostly because his decisions were centered around himself and his own happiness, rather than what was right) This movie does a poor job of portraying this certain truth.

By the way, I am not Jewish, but I am a descendant of a very brave 1st Division Private who stormed the beaches of Normandy, then fought bravely through 4 months of hell as the Army marched toward Berlin. He was finally killed in combat at the Battle of Hertgen Forrest -- but it was guy's like him -- THOUSANDS of guys like him -- that kept freedom alive for our generation. We owe them a debt of gratitude -- one that we do not owe Private Slovik.
28 out of 56 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
MacArthur should have been charged for war crimes.
mastoforoff24 June 2004
War is a brutal business, and people are going to die. But to execute anyone, for simply not wanting to kill or be killed to me is outright murder. I could understand sending him to the stockades for a few months, but to out and out order his murder just to make an example is wrong on so many levels. Personally forcing anyone to kill or be killed is way more cowardly than what Eddie Slovik did. Slovik, at least as far as the way the movie presented him, while not being an angel, was a man of principals after he left the reformatory. He never lied about his intentions, all he wanted was a discharge. He was willing to spend time in the stockades and face contempt most likely when he got back to the states. I liked at the end of the movie after he was pronounced dead where Ned Beatty's charachter said "the bravest man here today was Eddie Slovik". War is a horrible thing that has been going on for around 5000 years, and probably will keep on for another 5000, if we as a people don't kill ourselves and our planet first.
16 out of 32 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
A Tough Call
ccthemovieman-113 March 2006
This was made-for-TV movie shown about 30 years ago about the only American since the Civil War to be shot for desertion. Slovik (Martin Sheen) was a strange person and I didn't know how to react to this story, frankly. I knew Hollywood was going to give it its usual liberal bias, especially with Sheen in the starring role, so I tried to look at this objectively with no prejudices - something I don't see here with any of these reviews.

Unfortunately, in trying to be totally neutral, it's easy to watch this film and come away with no definite stance. On one hand, you can't blame the military because it would be in chaos if every soldier who didn't want to fight could get out of it. That's ludicrous. On the hand, Slovik was such a nice, gentle guy, the death penalty for his actions seemed severe, too. Couldn't something else have been worked out? I don't know, and at least I'm being honest. I never was in the military and maybe if I was, it would be an easier call. It is a tough call....but at least the film - except for a couple of lulls with the romance angle - kept my attention and made me think about an issue, so it served its purpose.
15 out of 31 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Not History, but has a History Lesson
pierredb31 January 2005
First of all, I am amazed at the number of people who think this is a factual account. NO movie or TV show that is a "docudrama" or even a documentary is completely factual. (Even Ken Burns made over 1000 documented errors in his Civil War series.) Everyone who puts on a uniform of the military knows the penalty for desertion during wartime. True, few pay that full penalty, but the idiots I have read who ask "why" obviously have no concept of what real war is.

Is there someone out there who really believes that World War II was not necessary? Should the US have let Hitler conquer Europe and his allies take Asia? Has the US become so afraid of fighting that we no longer value our freedoms? Slovik should not have died, but the facts in this docudrama are far from complete. It was, and remains, a "Vietnam-esque" view of the military.

During the Civil War, cavalry was often put in the rear of the infantry. If men tried to run from the fight, the soldiers had orders to shoot them.

The message was clear: Fight the enemy, you may die -- run and you WILL die.

In time of war, the Army must be harsh. War is brutal, but that is why it should be the avenue of last resort. Once the die is cast, it must be fought with all the violence and fury needed. Only if we are willing to fight will we maintain our freedom.
12 out of 27 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Moving, but justifiable
Sheldon Berger18 April 2005
I remember reading the book in 1966 and seeing the movie in 1974, and the facts seem to be correct. Some think the movie was made as a statement after the war with Viet Nam. I am not going there. I am a Viet veteran myself, and feel this dissection of the movie is guesswork. Martin Sheen was absolutely great. He captured the emotions of Pvt. Slovik very well. You could almost feel your own stomach churning as he headed for his execution. Did he deserve to die, yes, was it an extremely unfortunate situation, again yes. Faced with a firing squad, there is no doubt, as weak-kneed as I would be, I would take my chances on the battlefield as I assume, most would. I believe Pvt. Slovik truly believed he would not be executed, but picked the wrong time in history to make such an assumption.
10 out of 22 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Only Soldier Executed for Desertion in WW II
lexvmi2 August 2007
William Bradford Huie was a terrific writer and this fact based movie of his book is also terrific. Though Huie believed that Eddie Slovik should not have been shot, I disagree. War is hell and no man should shirk his duty when called upon to do his duty as many were willing to do; he was unwilling to do his duty when called upon. He was a coward, a very selfish man, and his criminal record shows this and demonstrates his unwillingness to conform to society and be productive. He was willing for others to do his duty while he wanted to live his life as he wanted. If everyone was allowed to do what he wanted to do we may very well have lost WW II--what a horrible thought! Martin Sheen gives his best performance of his career in this movie; too bad that it had to be so unsympathetic a role. Slovik received what he deserved; too bad others think not.
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The Irrationality of War
lord woodburry10 December 2005
This film received and deserved the many comments it has received. Indeed I think of Private Slovik whenever I see The Bush decked out in his cute little airforce suit declaring victories in Irak. But for a rich Dad, The Bush's story could have been the same.

The film was excellently made. Martin Sheen departed from his usual tough guy All American role to play the snivelling coward Pvt Slovik whose very name excited the passions of the surviving veterans of "The Big One" whenever a Democratic President proposed rehabilitation as Johnson and Carter would have but for the intense opposition they encountered. Certainly one can sympathize with the character Sheen played as he happily profits while others receive draft notices or volunteer for war.

But wars, even one so popular with the liberal intellectuals as World War II, cost. The manpower pool drains and less likely men such as Slovik must be called upon.

Oh yes Slovik was no kind of soldier. A Sergeant had to fake Slovik's rifle range card to get Slovik out of BCT (Basic Training.) It would seem Slovik's military career got off to an inauspicious beginning. In combat Slovik deserts and refuses to return to the front.

Was Pvt Slovik justified in being afraid? Of course he was! Every sane person who heard rifles crackle was afraid. Pvt Slovik differed. He acted on his fears. If everyone in a military unit acted on fear, the resulting panic would lead to disastrous defeat. In combat with an enemy like the German Reich or Imperial Japan, defeat would not have been a matter like paying off the enemy with a grain deal but would have had a direct and disastrous effect on major segments of the American population.

Slovik played the system. Offered the chance to return to the front, he gambled on a courtmartial and lost. With the type of casualties incurred in combat, the result was obvious. Slovik figured the sentence would be remitted and reduced to 30 years. With bravado not shown to the enemy, Slovik prophesied that after the war it'd be reduced to time served.

Instead he was led to the firing squad, the only possible end under the circumstances. He stands as a tribute to the irrationality of war. We can only justify the sacrifices of combat by the punishment meted out to those who shrink from it.
6 out of 13 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
That's Right, Give Him Another Volley, You Like It So Much!
richard.fuller14 July 2005
It was 1974 and it starred Martin Sheen.

That alone says what to expect of this movie.

And it was a movie. According to the movie, Slovik had reformed, got a good woman, and didn't want to fight.

In real life, Slovik may have been a naive innocent, or he may have just wanted to manipulate the system.

Whoever Slovik was or wasn't is for history to decide, but this was a movie that dealt with dessertion at a time when a country was questioning why it was fighting, and the movie took sides.

With no regard to servicemen who were in Viet Nam either in 1974 (as Willie Nelson would say, let's tell the truth, it was about the Viet Nam war, not WWII), EoES was as propagandistic as Gung Ho was in the forties.

According to this movie, Slovik stated his position, plain and simple. He had a nervous problem. Heck, I have a clinical nervous condition, and trust me, if I had done military duty, it would have been no problem for me to either just let my nerves go and fail at my tasks and get a demotion or put on KP duty or latrine duty with no problem.

If we believe the teleflick, Slovik didn't have that option, no doubt because of his criminal history.

Whatever the viewer wants to believe is up to the viewer. I've learned that movies from this decade or that decade, in dealing with service or military duty, will pretty much take the same stance over and over.

1940s and 1950s, serve your country.

1960s and 1970s, mock your country.

This is the history.

The whole movie seemed predictably Hollywood to me. He refused to serve and only when he was being strapped up to be executed does he show emotion.

Such an emotional outburst could have easily worked to his advantage in his declaration of his nervous condition, but obviously the movie wanted to show him as a human being and only when he is about to die does he become sorrowful.

I'm not a Catholic, but I thought the recital of the hail Mary by Ned Beatty and Sheen at the end, with the Lord's prayer, was funny as it sounded like they were trying to see who could say it faster.

I don't see how this movie could be watched without realizing it was aimed at Tricky Dick Nixon and the Viet Nam war.

I hope it was all worth it for Slovik and anyone who chose to follow his example.
9 out of 24 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
not a hero, but not a criminal
rcca-3881229 October 2017
Warning: Spoilers
warning: Spoilers in the comment.

I don't agree with those who try to cast Slovik's case as some kind of brave act of civil disobedience. It certainly was not. Slovik was expecting the same leniency as other deserters received before him; and when he realized his case was really going end up in execution, it was too late.

However it confirmed my conviction, that no American citizen should be forced to fight for the sake of an Allied country. It maybe sometimes reasonable for a country under attack, in a middle of an existential threat, to conscript able-bodied men against their will, and execute them if they refuse to fight; because there is no room to retreat, it is fight or die. However, neither Slovik nor million other non-volunteer US conscripts were a French or Belgian citizens. It was not their moral obligation to fight and die in Europe. Of course, U.S. did the right thing to intervene; and it should have sent all the volunteers she could muster. However a moral line was crossed when young men were conscripted against their will at the threat of jail punishment; and another line was crossed, when one of them was executed for refusing.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Posing The Question, "Could This Have Been Avoided?"
John T. Ryan7 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
ALL OF THIS recent attention about the Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl exchange for five (5) top Al Queda mastermind murderer/terrorists has brought this story from World War II about Private Eddie Slovik. He is the only member of U.S. Armed Forces to have been executed for desertion since the Civil War.

THE STORY WAS brought to the screen by Universal Television and the NBC TV Network in 1974, March 13th, to be exact. We well remember that this TV movie was heavily promoted and being treated as a very special event. This is one time that the ballyhoo boys were correct., absolutely.

THE STORY DOES a great job in explaining the situation. Private Eddie Slovik was an experienced and battle tested combat veteran. He became separated from his outfit; which afforded him a sort of respite from the life of battle.

WHEN HE FINALLY is to be reunited with his Company, he refuses to do so; opting instead for incarceration in the Guardhouse. Lengthy efforts were made to the young soldier in order to get him to change his mind. His obstinacy leads him to finally being executed by firing squad.

METICULOUS STORYTELLING IS employed in order to get the story behind all of this incredible, but true, story. We get a glimpse of the man as a boy, who had a difficult childhood. He married young and soon after his former Draft Classification of 4-F was changed to 1-A and he was inducted into the Army.

BEAUTIFULLY AND MOST realistically mounted, the production has a great and most authentic appearance. It literally transports us to 1944 Europe, France to be exact, with a World War yet to be won or lost. The cast, headed up by Martin Sheen, is outstanding. In support, we have Mariclaire Costello, Gary Busey, Matt Clark, Ben Hammer, Warren J. Kemmerling, Charles Haid and many others. Ned Beatty stands out as Chaplin, Father Stafford.

THE INHERENT DRAMATIC intensity of the story hits a tearful crescendo as Private Slovik (Mr. Sheen) continually repeats the Hail Mary; while he prepares to meet the Firing Squad. it is as emotionally charged as any scene in any film, even a theatrical production. (This could have done well as a Feature Film to be shown in the Movie Houses.)

IT WAS WELL received and heavily honored at the Emmy Awards. The sympathy was clearly with the hapless Private Slovik from the very start, or even before the start; as the promotional material poses the question, "Was it Cowardice or Conscience?"

IN PLAYING THE role of 'Devil's Advocate', we must ask the following question. It concerns the man who is implicitly rendered as being the bad guy in this affair. That is Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces, General Dwight D. Eisenhower. One must consider the circumstances of War. With thousands of men being killed and seriously wounded all the time, the execution of one deserter wouldn't rate very highly.
0 out of 0 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
I found this an enjoyable movie, in spite of its "dark" theme
donjasper28 April 2003
Well acted, emotional movie As informative as anyone could expect from an historical/documentary movie. I didn't spot "filming location(s)unfortunately.
3 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Trying to ID a similar scene in another movie
carterike9 January 2007
A scene in another movie loosely based on Private Slovik's execution, done ironically (presumably anti-war), with "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" (sung by Frank Sinatra, maybe?) as background music. Can anyone tell me the name of the movie?

I think the movie plot is the experiences of a particular platoon of men fighting in Europe in World War II, engaging in one battle after another. I don't remember the actors, or who played the soldier being shot.

The scene leaves a vivid impression, with the group of soldiers being forced to attend the execution against their will, and marching to the scene in bitter cold weather, in the snow.
2 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Eddie Slovik
davanmani10 July 2006
I actually saw this film in New Delhi, India of all places in 1987. I was visiting India, the Taj Mahal when I got back to my hotel room. I was looking for an English program because I couldn't understand Hindi and I saw this movie. It was very gripping especially Martin Sheen acting. Also, the title itself was compelling because I caught the movie in mid-flight. I kept wondering what is this guy going to be executed for stealing, or murder which I thought was impossible because he was a nice guy. I remember the final scene and was very confused by There was no internet at the time and I did find an article said he was killed because of desertion which I didn't understand. Why didn't they put the guy in jail or exile for a long time was my thought?

Every said he was a coward but I thought he did the right thing which was his heart. He is not a soldier. There are so many folks who try to be a soldier and kill somebody by mistake or miss their assignment. This whole "America" thing please everybody loves America but nobody likes other Americans as strangers. Period. You may like your group, infantry, team, bible study, family, sqaud, platoon, and friends, but not Americans as a whole. You see more killings, beatings, and hatred of Americans by other Americans. Ask your policeman, domestic violence counselor, doctors, and teachers.

The bottom line is every man for themselves is the mentality because everything is treated as a sport whether its being in the army, the office, schools (elementary, high school, college or grad), music stage, choir, or Hollywood. It is a jock thing everywhere. Yes, that is a correct assessment of why Hollywood produced this film. However, I dare you former soldiers to go against Hollywood. You can bring your bayonets and whatever but you can't beat the word anti-semitic. So, you come with this word "liberal". What is that? Of course, now they are the army side and you guys have to kiss "butt". What is that term "a pen is mightier than a sword".

I do appreciate people who fought for the United States but I also know that most treat it like a business of being the best "jock" soldier mentality. If you don't have that mentality, you will be eaten alive like the American soldier in Japan who got brutally killed by another American soldier in Japan for being gay or the "Tailhook" scandal.

In short, very few Americans fight for other Americans. If you are one of those, you are blessed. You see old-timers who criticize how Americans are today, Bob Feller. Big time, Jock but he can't beat media or Hollywood.
1 out of 5 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
Don't waste your money and definitely not your time
thebigsmokey5 July 2013
There were three issues that made this movie worth the time and money to watch:

1) A cowardly deserter who was afforded a chance to rehab himself was tried, sentenced and executed 2) The leftists that developed the story line did get the name of the 28th ID Provost Marshal correct for the period 3) One of the vehicles depicted was a 28th Division, 28th Military Police Platoon vehicle and it was properly marked.

I believe that this is the first of Martin Sheen's anti-military movies but certainly wasn't his last.

At the time when this country was locked in a war that very well could have been lost, a service member chose to REPEATEDLY desert and promised to do so again. He was tried, convicted and the sentence was death. All of that superfluous bull hockey about being 4F and a "troubled youth" does not come into play. WE WERE AT WAR.

/s/ A lifelong soldier, combat veteran and former Provost Marshal, 28th Infantry Division
0 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
The blame falls on Eddie Slovik and his commanding officers.
dani24720044 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I've never seen the movie, but have such a strong desire to. I'm hoping it'll come out on DVD soon, or that I'll find it on VHS in some consignment shop if I'm lucky. But here's my opinion on his story (not regarding the movie in particular) -- IF it's true that the only way he got to the front lines in the first place was that he cheated, then really, this all falls back on his master chief/commanding officers. THEY were the ones who put him in the awkward position. Granted, he did ask to be placed elsewhere and was denied. But how many people do you think are "emotionally prepared" for war? How many can honestly say they will not be horrified by the things they see? No one can. Eddie Slovik was no different. The only difference between him and the 300,000 American men that died in World War II is that he ran away, and they stood. And fought. And died. Died for freedom, died for the destruction of the Nazi party, died for the eroding of the heartless genocide and for the protection of the United States from those who tried to harm us. Yes, it was wrong for them to make a spectacle out of him. They could have chosen someone who had deserted in more dire circumstances. But, by law, execution IS called for when desertion is committed. George Washington executed many deserters in his own army. Eisenhower was not the first president to oversee an execution, so he should not take the fall for this either. The blame, whether you like it or not, falls on Eddie Slovik and his commanding officers.
0 out of 7 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? | Report this
An error has occured. Please try again.

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews