7.2/10
7,247
47 user 26 critic

A Soldier's Story (1984)

An African American officer investigates a murder in a racially charged situation in World War II.

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay), (play)
Reviews

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

Videos

Photos

Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

When police officer Xavier Quinn's childhood friend, Maubee, becomes associated with murder and a briefcase full of ten thousand dollar bills, The Mighty Quinn must clear his name. Or try to catch him, which could be even trickier.

Director: Carl Schenkel
Stars: Denzel Washington, Robert Townsend, James Fox
Cry Freedom (1987)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  

South African journalist Donald Woods is forced to flee the country, after attempting to investigate the death in custody of his friend, the black activist Steve Biko.

Director: Richard Attenborough
Stars: Denzel Washington, Kevin Kline, Josette Simon
Carbon Copy (1981)
Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

When a rich white corporate executive finds out that he has an illegitimate black son, things start falling apart for him at home, at work and in his social circles.

Director: Michael Schultz
Stars: George Segal, Susan Saint James, Jack Warden
Crime | Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.7/10 X  

A retired British soldier struggles to adjust to everyday life, with increasing difficulty.

Director: Martin Stellman
Stars: Denzel Washington, Dorian Healy, Sean Chapman
Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

An Indian family is expelled from Uganda when Idi Amin takes power. They move to Mississippi and time passes. The Indian daughter falls in love with a black man, and the respective families... See full summary »

Director: Mira Nair
Stars: Denzel Washington, Sarita Choudhury, Roshan Seth
Crime | Drama | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

An African-American man is hired to find a woman, and gets mixed up in a murderous political scandal.

Director: Carl Franklin
Stars: Denzel Washington, Tom Sizemore, Jennifer Beals
Comedy | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  

A racist cop receives a heart transplant from a black lawyer he hates, who returns as a ghost to ask the cop to help take down the men who murdered him.

Director: James D. Parriott
Stars: Bob Hoskins, Denzel Washington, Chloe Webb
Drama | Music | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Jazz trumpeter Bleek Gilliam makes questionable decisions in his professional and romantic lives.

Director: Spike Lee
Stars: Denzel Washington, Spike Lee, Wesley Snipes
License to Kill (TV Movie 1984)
Drama | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.5/10 X  

A grieving family whose daughter was killed in a car crash with a drunken driver is outraged and frustrated as they encounter the inevitable bureaucratic delays in bringing the case to ... See full summary »

Director: Jud Taylor
Stars: James Farentino, Penny Fuller, Don Murray
Glory (1989)
Biography | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Robert Gould Shaw leads the U.S. Civil War's first all-black volunteer company, fighting prejudices from both his own Union Army, and the Confederates.

Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Matthew Broderick, Denzel Washington, Cary Elwes
Ricochet (1991)
Action | Crime | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

A District Attorney is terrorized by the criminal he put away years ago when he was a cop.

Director: Russell Mulcahy
Stars: Denzel Washington, John Lithgow, Ice-T
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Captain Davenport
...
Sergeant Waters
...
Private Wilkie
...
Corporal Cobb
...
Private Smalls
...
Captain Taylor
...
C.J. Memphis
...
Corporal Ellis
...
...
Private Henson
...
Big Mary
...
Lieutenant Byrd
...
Captain Wilcox
...
Sergeant Washington
...
Colonel Nivens
Edit

Storyline

A black soldier is killed while returning to his base in the deep south. The white people of the area are suspected at first. A tough black army attorney is brought in to find out the truth. We find out a bit more about the dead soldier in flashbacks - and that he was unpopular. Will the attorney find the killer ? Written by Colin Tinto <cst@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Alone, far from home, and far from justice, he has three days to learn the truth about a murder...and the truth is a story you won't forget.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | Mystery | War

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

2 November 1984 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La historia de un soldado  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$156,383 (USA) (16 September 1984)

Gross:

$21,821,347 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

Norman Jewison says of this film on his audio-commentary: "No one really wanted to make this movie... a black story, it was based on World War II, and those themes were not popular at the box-office". See more »

Goofs

After Sgt. Waters is shot, we hear the sound of the Army 45 being cocked for the next shot. A semi-automatic pistol cocks itself when the slide comes back after shooting the round in the chamber. See more »

Quotes

Private Wilkie: Is it true, sir, that when they found him, his stripes and insignia were still on the uniform?
Captain Davenport: Yes.
Private Wilkie: Something's wrong, ain't it, sir? I mean, those Klan boys, they can't stand to see us in these uniforms. They usually take the stripes and stuff off before they lynch us.
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Directors: The Films of Norman Jewison (1999) See more »

Soundtracks

Bright Red Zoot Suit
Written and Performed by Larry Riley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

Outstanding murder mystery centered around a different type of racism...
21 December 2003 | by (Novato, CA) – See all my reviews

"A Soldier's Story," directed by Norman Jewison, tells a very powerful and tragic tale of black racism in WWII America. It is equally puzzling and disturbing and will leave you thinking about it for a long time to come.

The story takes place at a military base in the American South during the last full year of the Second World War, in 1944. Sergeant Vernon Waters, a Black man, is shot to death. The locals, as well as the Black enlisted men at the base, believe it to be the work of the Ku Klux Klan. Captain Davenport, also a Black man, as well as the first Black officer most of the men at this base have ever seen, is asked to investigate this. The White officers all want to see this matter brought to a swift and tidy conclusion in order to prevent what they see as a potential race riot between the Black soldiers and local Whites around town.

Davenport (deftly played by the late Howard E. Rollins Jr.) questions the enlisted men at the base, and begins to learn that the murdered sergeant(Adolph Ceaser in an Oscar-nominated performance) had no shortage of enemies, White and Black.

Through a series of flashbacks, we learn that Waters is a man of great personal pride and dignity, a man who believes that the African-American race has great potential to "take it's rightful place in history" alongside the White race in America. But his pride is also fueled by a terrible hatred of Black men, mostly Southern men, who he believes are hurting the race by presenting themselves as lower-class bumpkins; the stereotypical shiftless, lazy, ignorant types; the smiling, singing clowns; the "yassah-boss niggers."

One soldier, C.J. Memphis, a simple but charming, illiterate, guitar-strumming man, comes to personify these character traits in Waters' eyes. The clash between those two personalities is a crucial centerpiece to this movie's message.

Ceaser is astonishing as Waters, a man so full of loathing and bile towards his own people, you can feel it oozing off the screen. His best moment occurs in a bar where he stares into a mirror and talks in a dark tone about his unit's heroic efforts in France in the First World War, and how one Black soldier destroyed that sterling image in the minds of many White Frenchmen.....and what Waters did in response. It's chilling.

An undervalued film that you may have to look a little harder in your local video store to find, but well worth the effort!


45 of 46 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?