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The Execution of Private Slovik (1974)

The story of Eddie Slovik, who was executed by the Army in 1945, the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the Civil War.


Lamont Johnson


Richard Levinson (written for television by), William Link (written for television by) | 1 more credit »
Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 1 win & 7 nominations. See more awards »


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Cast overview, first billed only:
Martin Sheen ... Eddie Slovik
Mariclare Costello ... Antoinette Slovik
Ned Beatty ... Father Stafford
Gary Busey ... Jimmy Feedek
Matt Clark ... Dunn
Ben Hammer ... Lt. Col. Leacock
Warren J. Kemmerling ... Maj. Fellman (as Warren Kemmerling)
Charles Haid ... Brockmeyer
Kathryn Grody ... Margaret
Paul Lambert ... Joe Sirelli
Jon Cedar ... Holloway
Joe George ... 109th Regiment Sergeant (as Joseph George)
Laurence Haddon Laurence Haddon ... Piper
James Burr Johnson James Burr Johnson ... NCO
Tom Ligon ... Childs


The story of Eddie Slovik, who was executed by the Army in 1945, the only American soldier to be executed for desertion since the Civil War.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Was it an Act of Cowardice... or an Act of Conscience?


Biography | Drama


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English | French

Release Date:

13 March 1974 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Execução do Soldado Slovik See more »

Filming Locations:

Montréal, Québec, Canada See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


About 35 minutes in, as Eddie (Martin Sheen) is leaving for his late-night walk, he tosses his jacket on over his head in the move made famous by Sheen's Jeb Bartlet portrayal in "The West Wing" (1999). This is due to a shoulder injury Sheen suffered at birth. See more »


Father Stafford: Give it another volley if you like it so much!
Lt. Col. Leacock: Take it easy, Padre! None of us are enjoying this.
See more »


References The Victors (1963) See more »


Is You Is Or Is You Ain't My Baby
Written by Louis Jordan and Billy Austin
Performed by Louis Jordan
See more »

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User Reviews

Great movie, not really history though ...
7 July 2004 | by arjunahawaiiSee all my reviews

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.

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