Set on a racially-segregated military base in rural Louisiana during World War II, A Soldier’s Story is a film adapted from Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize-winning production, “A Soldier’s Play”. Directed by Norman Jewison, the film centers around the investigation by U.S. Army Captain Richard Davenport (Howard Rollins), an African-American officer from the Judge Advocate General’s Corps, into the murder of Master Sergeant Vernon Waters (Adolph Caesar), who is also African-American. Taking place in 1944, in the Jim Crow-dominated South, racism drastically impacts Davenport’s investigation. Both White and Black officers feel they don’t have to respect Davenport and his rank, simply because of his race.
The film opens with the murder of a drunken Sergeant Waters, also called “Sarge” by his colored soldiers. His body is found and the following day, Davenport is dispatched to the military base. Because Sarge is found with his military regalia intact on his uniform, some don’t believe that the killing was committed by members of the local branch of the Ku Klux Klan, who would have removed it. Is all really as it seems to appear?