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A Soldier's Story (1984)

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

Director:

Norman Jewison

Writers:

Charles Fuller (screenplay), Charles Fuller (play)
Reviews
Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Howard E. Rollins Jr. ... Captain Davenport
Adolph Caesar ... Sergeant Waters
Art Evans ... Private Wilkie
David Alan Grier ... Corporal Cobb
David Harris ... Private Smalls
Dennis Lipscomb ... Captain Taylor
Larry Riley ... C.J. Memphis
Robert Townsend ... Corporal Ellis
Denzel Washington ... Private First Class Peterson
William Allen Young ... Private Henson
Patti LaBelle ... Big Mary
Wings Hauser ... Lieutenant Byrd
Scott Paulin ... Captain Wilcox
John Hancock ... Sergeant Washington
Trey Wilson ... Colonel Nivens
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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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

2 November 1984 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

La historia de un soldado See more »

Filming Locations:

Clarendon, Arkansas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$6,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$156,383, 16 September 1984, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$21,821,347
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby

Color:

Color (Metrocolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Fuller went and stayed with Norman Jewison for six to eight weeks, to develop and work on the film's screenplay. Jewison, though, is not credited for co-writing the movie. See more »

Goofs

When the three black sergeants and Pvt Wilkie are seated in the bar, Pvt Wilkie has his unit patch sewn on his right shoulder. We later see Pvt Wilkie with his unit patch on his left shoulder. See more »

Quotes

Drill Sergeant: [a group of soldiers are doing calisthenics when Captain Davenport drives by in a jeep. Everyone stops and stares in astonishment] Alright, soldiers, let's get back to those exercises! Haven't you seen a colored officer before?
GI: No, sir! Have you?
See more »

Alternate Versions

CBS edited 5 minutes from this film for its 1987 network television premiere. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Demon Queen (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

C.J.'s Lament
Written and Performed by Larry Riley
See more »

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User Reviews

A Enthralling film about racism in the military
5 September 2004 | by rcj5365See all my reviews

Commerating the 20th Anniversary of a brilliant classic!

This was one of the most powerful films that came out in 1984. Director Norman Jewison(In The Heat Of The Night)adaptation of the Puliitzer Prize-winning play(by Charles Fuller) and numerous NAACP awards for best achievement in African-American literature,tells about the ramificiations of racism and loyalty through the prism of blacks in the military,revealed through a mystery set in the 1940's deep South. Howard E. Rollins(Ragtime,and from the TV series In The Heat Of The Night)plays a military investigator,Captain Davenport,who is assigned to the murder of a drill instructor,Sergeant Waters,played by Adolph Caesar(The Color Purple),who was in charge of a black platoon during World War II. Under pressure from his superiors to wrap his investigation up quickly,Rollins instead delves deeply into the relationships between the despised drill instructor and his men,uncovering lies and animousity,and confronting the question of what it means to be black in a white man's world. Rollins delivers a riveting,stoic,emotional lead into the role of Captain Davenport while Caesar gives an electrifying performance as the Sergeant. A lot of fresh faces gives brilliant performances throughout the film including one from a youthful Denzel Washington,who makes an early appearance as a soldier with a deep grudge against the drill instructor and a deep mistrust of Rollins' investigator. Look for appearances by Larry Riley, David Alan Grier,Robert Townsend,and Patti LaBelle. A powerfully written story that makes the most of its large and impressive ensemble cast which still is enthralling--some 20th after its release.

MPAA Rating: PG-For Language,Racial Overtones and Comment,Violence.


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