A Soldier's Story

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A Soldier's Story is a 1984 drama film directed by Norman Jewison, based upon Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning Off Broadway production A Soldier's Play. A black officer is sent to investigate the murder of a black sergeant in Louisiana near the end of World War II. It is a story about racism and segregation in a black U.S Army regiment with white officers deep in the Jim Crow South, in a time and place where a black officer is unprecedented and bitterly resented by nearly everyone.

The movie was first shown at the Toronto Film Festival. It won the New York Drama Critics Award, the Outer Critics Circle Award, the Theater Club Award, and three Village Voice Obie Awards. It was also nominated for three Academy Awards: for Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Adolph Caesar as the murder victim), and Screenplay Adaptation.



Conflicted, light-skinned Sergeant Waters (Adolph Caesar) ruthlessly heaps abuse upon his men. He calls them all "worthless geechees", but he especially relishes torturing the jovial and highly talented C.J. Memphis (Larry Riley). Racism is deep-rooted in the south during the time. Sergent Waters especially cannot stand the buffoonery behavior from the fellow black men in the platoon.

When Waters is killed, there are plenty of suspects for Captain Davenport (Howard E. Rollins, Jr.). Some soldiers also believe that Sergent Waters was killed by the Ku Klux Klan.

Art Evans plays Private Wilkie, a nervous man too acquiescent for his own good. David Alan Grier plays C.J.'s closest friend, bonded by their Mississippi roots. Denzel Washington, in one of his earliest motion picture roles, portrays the deeply embittered Pfc. Peterson.


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