7.2/10
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A Soldier's Story (1984)

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1:23 | Trailer
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)
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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 6 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:

A Soldier's Story 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

Gross USA:

$21,821,347

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$21,821,347
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Columbia Pictures, Caldix See more »
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

The film was made and released a year after the very similarly titled film The Soldier's Story (1981) and five years prior to another, called A Soldier's Tale (1989). See more »

Goofs

Cpl Cobb mixes military and civilian time when he is being deposed by Cpt Davenport. He states a time frame between "between 2120 and 930"; he should have said "between 2120 and 2130". See more »

Quotes

Master Sergeant Vernon Waters: Them Nazis ain't all crazy. Whole lot of people just can't seem to fit in to where things seem to be going. Like you, CJ. See, the Black race can't afford you no more. There used to be a time, we'd see someone like you singin', clownin', yassuh-bossin'... and we wouldn't do anything. Folks liked that. You were good. Homey kind of nigger. When they needed somebody to mistreat, call a name or two, they paraded you. Reminded them of the good old days. Not no more. The day of the Geechee is gone, ...
See more »

Alternate Versions

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

Connections

Referenced in Crap Shoot: The Documentary (2007) See more »

Soundtracks

Low Down Dirty Shame
Written by Larry Riley
Performed by Patti LaBelle and Larry Riley
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
A military attorney from the North arrives in a Southern base to investigate a murder of a detestable sergeant
5 June 2012 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Interesting and electrifying movie with African American all-star-cast who makes memorable performance , it packs suspense , mystery , thrills , jazzy music and is quite entertaining . An African American officer (Howard E. Rollins) from the North is sent to a Southern base stationed in Louisiana to investigate a killing of an unpopular sergeant (Adolph Caesar) in a racially charged situation in World War II . He has three days to learn the truth about a murder and the truth is a story you won't forget plenty of racism in outside the corps . There he finds a motley group of soldiers (Art Evans , Denzel Washington , David Alan Grier , William Allen Young , Robert Towsend) and various suspect white officers (Scott Paulin , Wings Hauser) .

This intriguing and totally absorbing film features solid acting , suspense , whodunit , mysterious elements , racism , jazz and blues . From the Pulitzer-prize winning play by Charles Fuller , with the most of the Broadway cast and dealing about an incisive probe into racism . Adolph Caesar, Denzel Washington, and Larry Riley all recreated their roles from the original 1981 Lucille Lortel Off-Broadway production; when the play was revived in 2005, James McDaniel assumed Caesar's Sgt. Waters character . Magnificent performances from main cast as Howard Rollins and Adolph Caesar as a hateful sergeant who achieved prize as the best actor given by L.A. Films Critics 84 . Extraordinary support cast as a then little-known Denzel Washington -who went on to win an Academy Award for Glory- , William Allen Young whose role of Pvt. Henson in "A Soldier's Play", was played by Samuel L. Jackson in the stage version . Jazzy and atmospheric musical score by Jazzman Herbie Hancock is full of blues , and wonderful songs sung by Patti LaBelle . Evocative cinematography by Russell Boyd , being filmed in Little Rock and Fort Smith , Arkansas .

The motion picture was professionally produced and directed by Norman Jewison . He is a prestigious and veteran filmmaker, his greatest film is of course ¨Jesus Christ Superstar¨ . He directed successful movies as ¨Fiddler on the roof¨ , ¨Agnes of God¨ , ¨Moonstruck¨ , ¨Thomas Crown¨ and ¨Cinncinati Kid¨ . However , he also got some flops as ¨Bogus¨, ¨In country¨ , ¨Only you¨ and ¨Other's people money¨ and his last picture titled ¨The statement¨. He considers ¨The Hurricane¨ (1999) the last in a trilogy of racial bigotry movies he's realized, the first two being ¨In the Heat of the Night¨ (1967) and ¨A Soldier's Story¨ (1984) . Rating : Better than average .


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