Dennis Murphy's novel reaches the screen as a moving production, filmed with sensitivity by debuting director John Flynn, and with robust, appropriately grim physical values. Rod Steiger's title-role performance is generally excellent, and John Phillip Law hits the mark, as the would-be mark.

Dennis Murphy’s novel reaches the screen as a moving production, filmed with sensitivity by debuting director John Flynn, and with robust, appropriately grim physical values. Rod Steiger’s title-role performance is generally excellent, and John Phillip Law hits the mark, as the would-be mark.

To say that this is a story about a homosexual is like claiming that an iceberg floats completely on the surface of water. The pic is about a total, pervading enslavement of one person to another.

A five-minute prolog, in black-and-white for good contrast, establishes Steiger as a hero during the 1944 liberation of France. The heroic deed included the strangling of a helpless, disarmed German soldier. His death grip on the younger man betrays a latent homosexuality.

Time shifts under titles to 1952, with Steiger reporting as first sergeant at a US base in rural France. He effectively seizes command, and works to shape up the slovenly unit. Law attracts Steiger’s attention. Practically dragooned into the company office, Law falls increasingly under the thrall of Steiger.

Story threads are strongly woven, through Murphy’s own fine adaptation of his book as well as Flynn’s incisive direction.

The Sergeant

Production

Warner/Seven Arts. Director John Flynn; Producer Richard Goldstone; Screenplay Dennis Murphy; Camera Henri Persin; Editor Charles Nelson, Francoise Diot; Music Michel Magne; Art Director Willy Holt

Crew

(Color) Extract of a review from 1968. Running time: 107 MIN.

With

Rod Steiger John Phillip Law Ludmila Mikael Frank Latimore Elliott Sullivan
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