5.3/10
154
10 user 7 critic

Death of a Soldier (1986)

R | | Crime, Drama, War | 16 May 1986 (USA)
Based on a true story, James Coburn portrays a military lawyer assigned to defend a confessed psychotic killer. Set in the context of WWII and the uneasy US-Australian military alliance. ... See full summary »

Director:

Writers:

(screenplay) (as William Nagle), (story) (as William Nagle)
Reviews
2 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
Det. Sgt. Martin (as Maurice Fields)
Max Fairchild ...
Maj. William Fricks
Belinda Davey ...
Margot Saunders
Randall Berger ...
Pvt. Anthony Gallo
...
Jon Sidney ...
Nell Johnson ...
Maisie
Pippa Wilson ...
Singer in Boomerang Bar
Kim Rushworth ...
Band in bar
John McTernan ...
Col. Williams (as John McTiernan)
Earl Francis ...
Police Doctor
Ron Pinnell ...
Mr. Harmon
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Storyline

Based on a true story, James Coburn portrays a military lawyer assigned to defend a confessed psychotic killer. Set in the context of WWII and the uneasy US-Australian military alliance. The accused killer claims to have killed 3 women in order to possess their voices. Despite the defense lawyer's concerns that the killer is not fit to stand trial, the US military presses forward with the case and its desire to have the killer executed in order to strengthen the shaky alliance. Written by Fryingham

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The obscenity of war. The brutality of murder. The travesty of justice.

Genres:

Crime | Drama | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 May 1986 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Dein Lied - Dein Tod  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Eastmancolor)| (archive footage)| (archive footage)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The screenplay was written by William L. Nagle, who also wrote the the screenplay for the war movie The Siege of Firebase Gloria (1989) as well as writing the novel that was filmed as the Australian Vietnam war movie, The Odd Angry Shot (1979). See more »

Connections

Featured in The Spoony Experiment: Death of a Soldier (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

Jersey Trot
music by Allan Zavod
published by Filmtrax PLC
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User Reviews

 
Not as well-known as it should be
5 February 2003 | by (California) – See all my reviews

Despite a previous poster's wildly inaccurate and hysterical right-wing rantings (among other things, the fact that he kept calling it a "Hollywood" film when it was in fact made by an Australian company with an Australian director and was shot in Australia, and his claim that the "Hollywood" filmmakers wanted to let Reb Brown's character go free when no such thing was even remotely suggested leads one to suspect that this guy never actually saw the film and is just repeating what he read on some shrill far-right-wing website) this is a very good movie, and is based on an actual event. Eddie Leonski (played to near perfection by Reb Brown) was a brain-damaged (caused by a combination of years of heavy drinking and severe beatings by his parents when he was a child), acutely alcoholic American soldier with obviously severe mental problems who was stationed in Australia during WW II. He murdered several young women during a string of off-duty binges of heavy drinking. When he is finally caught (turned in by a fellow soldier to whom he had inadvertently admitted the murders), provost marshal James Coburn is assigned to his defense. Although not happy about it, once Coburn meets his client it's obvious to even his untrained eye that Leonski has serious mental defects and little if any grip on reality (at one point Coburn wonders how someone like Leonski with such glaringly obvious mental problems managed to even get into the army). When he tries to get Leonski placed in a hospital for the criminally insane, however, he discovers that the authorities--American and Australian--are determined to hang him, their decision based more on political considerations than Leonski's shockingly obvious mental deficiencies. The performances by the two leads and the mostly Australian cast are excellent, with Coburn standing out as usual. A subplot concerning his budding romance with a local girl is unnecessary and doesn't go anywhere anyway, but otherwise this is a crackerjack little picture, a fascinating and little known story told well with first-rate performances by Coburn and Brown. Well worth watching.


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