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"A Soldier's Story" Coming Out On Blu-ray DVD Dec 6

by Sergio
September 3, 2011 3:23 AM
6 Comments
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Slowly but surely more and more older black films are being released on blu-ray which means more and more black people, and people who genuinely like good movies, are getting blu-ray players.

I'm still waiting for that blu-ray DVD release of Malcolm X which has been held back since January because of a music clearance problem. (And while we're at it how about blu-ray versions of Mo' Better Blues and Jungle Fever as well?)

But fortunately there's one excellent black film which will soon come out on blu-ray DVD to add to the list, and that's Norman Jewison's 1985 A Soldier's Story through Image Entertainment, on Dec 6th.

Based on the 1982 Pulitzer Prize winning play by Charles Fuller, who also wrote the screenplay adaptation, it deals with a black officer, played by Howard Rollins Jr, who comes to a segregated Army base in the deep South during World War II to investigate the murder of a tough and hated drill sergeant played by Adolph Caesar.

The film does not exactly manage to entirely remove it's obvious stage origins, but nevertheless it's a pretty intense and compelling film that is perhaps more relevant today since it deals with the conflict between those who want to move black people forward and those who seem to be holding us back. (You know, sort of like the debate between people who like Tyler Perry and those who like Spike Lee)

The film briefly made stars of Rollins, who was, at the time, on a roll, after his film debut in Ragtime. But he was a horribly self destructive, tortured man in private, whose career failed to catch fire. He battled for years with drug problems as well as dealing with his true sexuality, and died in 1996 at the age of 46 from AIDS.

Caesar, a veteran stage and film actor with a tremendous deep resonant voice that made him a popular voice-over actor as well, and who recreated the role he performed in the stage production of Story, wasn't able either to capitalize on his success, dying suddenly the very next year, after the film's release in 1986.

But actually it was a young intense actor named Denzel Washington, playing the breakout, sort of angry, militant, embryonic Malcolm X type in the film, who caught everyone's attention. Check the film out when it comes out. It's definitely worth watching

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6 Comments

  • Dankwa Brooks | September 6, 2011 12:24 PMReply

    I finally saw this films a couple years back and despite the aforementioned great performances by Denzel Washington and Adolph Caesar I did not like this movie AT ALL! It was very vapid and superficial to me. After seeing this film I was glad that Spike Lee petitioned to film ‘Malcolm X’ for I blame the director Norman Jewison (who was in line to direct ‘X’). I don’t think he allowed the race to shine through. As I thought when watching this film, I just don’t FEEL the racism. It wasn’t conveyed through the film effectively in my opinion.





    I also didn’t think Howard Rollins Jr was all that great in the lead either.


  • urbanauteur | September 6, 2011 6:25 AMReply

    @Dankwa, you raise a good point, via thru Norman Jewison's parallax view-finder, the charactor suppression of defacto racism NEVER really surface except on some superfacial level its not authenic, those adolf hillbillies are left to chew tobacco & act by numbers, never [push] to venture DEEP into their respective charactors.

  • artbizzy | September 4, 2011 6:10 AMReply

    This is such a wonderful film on so many levels. This, in my opinion, was Denzel, at his best, before he became super-famous. No glitz or glam, just great writing and great acting.

  • Neziah | September 3, 2011 8:13 AMReply

    Very good film.

  • CareyCarey | September 3, 2011 4:58 AMReply

    My man Sergio, you’ve done it this time. I mean, after bringing us those racist cartoons and stirring up mess with The Help, now you’ve brought the young crowd one of the great black films. A Soldier’s Story is a classic with a great cast.

    You mentioned Howard E. Rollins (who can forget his “coming out” on the Tonight Show - WOW!), that dude was talented, but as you mentioned, he fought a few demons. Also, many may not know that David Allen Grier, Patti LaBelle and Robert Townsend was in the movie. Well, Robert Townsend never could act but he did what he did and he brought us The Five Heartbeats so I love him for that.

    I think the dude who played Adolph Caesar’s (Sergeant Waters) major nemesis, Larry Riley (C. J. Memphis) also had a few demons in his closet? But did Sergeant Waters hate that dude or what?! Damn, he couldn’t stand CJ, and whooped Denzel’s for taking up for the dude. **I think that’s why he put an old school ass thumpin’ on Denzel’s narrow young ass**

    Sergio, I love A Soldier’s Story for so many reasons. The acting was tight, it was a great story and it had a great black cast. Even the white dudes carried their load. Well, the head prick was a little campy.

    Oh, speaking of campy, that one actor, Art Evans (Private Wilkie), his whole career was camp personified, but he always “fit” his characters.

    Good heads-up Sergio.

  • darkan | September 3, 2011 4:43 AMReply

    Yes, yes, yes!!! One of the best of all time! Can't wait. Definitely going into my collection. Hopefully "What's Love Got To Do With It" will be coming around soon.

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