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  • Death of a Soldier [VHS]
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Death of a Soldier [VHS]

4 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: James Coburn, Bill Hunter, Reb Brown, Maurie Fields, Max Fairchild
  • Directors: Philippe Mora
  • Writers: William L. Nagle
  • Producers: David Hannay, Honnon Page, Lance W. Reynolds, Oscar Scherl, Richard Jabara
  • Format: NTSC
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainme
  • VHS Release Date: November 20, 1986
  • Run Time: 93 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6301798465
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #225,997 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 20, 2008
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
Based on a true story, the tale of the Brownout Strangler - an American GI in Australia during World War II who turned serial killer, was tried and hanged - this film succeeds as a minor gem. It has good acting by many of the principals, include James Coburn as a reluctant legal representative and Reb Brown in what is perhaps the best role of his career.

In 1942, the war in the Pacific is not yet going in the Allies' favour, and the arrival of US troops in Australia causes upheavals for the locals beyond what the war had done so far. Among the troops around Melbourne was Edward Leonski, an unstable private whose parents were abusive alcoholics, and whose siblings had trouble being either in jail or in mental institutions. Leonski was the sort to drink and party a lot, but had a violent streak in which he killed several women. According to Leonski's testimony, he strangled them because he wanted to possess their voices.

The attorney intended to defend Leonski had health problems, so the task fell to another office, Rothgerber (whose name for the film was changed to Dannenberg). The Uniform Code of Military Justice was not yet available, so Leonski had what many consider an unfair trial, not least because he was not able to use mental deficiency or insanity as a plea. Complicating matters even more was the irritation on behalf of the Australian authorities at having the Americans try him apart from their courts. About the only thing the Australian and American authorities had in common was the desire to see Leonski hanged - not exactly a recipe for fair and impartial trials.

Coburn as Dannenberg and Brown as Leonski put in first rate performances.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gex144 on March 19, 2011
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
This is actually a good move. Normally when you see Reb Brown during this time period, you think that, at best, it's going to be a "so bad, it's good" movie with the most entertaining over-the-top acting from the man himself (e.g. Strike Commando). But to my surprise, he actually does a solid acting job in this movie, not to mention it got him nominated for best supporting actor in Australia. On top of that, the movie itself is solid as well.

Based on a true story, American soldiers are stationed in various areas of Australia before shipping over towards the Japanese islands to fight in the war. When things start off, tensions aren't so good against the Americans and the Australians. Brown's character, a soldier with obvious mental problems, especially when he drinks, and boy does he binge drink. Just see that sequence in the first 10 minutes of the movie where he downs 2 full glasses and 3 shots in 1 take, and you see his transformation from enjoyable life of the party guy and childlike goofball into a terrifying monster. Over a period of time after each drinking session, he goes out, finds a woman, and strangles her to death in his deranged state, which makes the ticking time bomb go off between American and Aussie relations. Bar fights ensue, a train shootout takes place (which is currently an urban legend that in real life several people say it did and didn't happen, so who knows if it's true), and the situation becomes dire. The American higher ups then decide to catch this serial killer after finding out it's an American doing the killings, fix the trial he goes to, and hang him to set an example and restore relations with Australia.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By 50s sci-fi Fan on May 18, 2011
Format: VHS Tape
Others here have given the history of the film and how Edward Leonski was something of a scapegoat.

I know from my own experience - in the film I played an officer at the Court Martial - that the actual medical reports showed that Leonski, apart from having a very troubled childhood, had an unusual chemical reaction to alcohol that made him violent, i.e. he was not simply drunk.

There were tensions between the American servicemen and the Australian public that put General MacArthur in very touchy position. If he let Leonski be found insane and simply be sent to a hospital in the States, he would have had a riot on his hands, with Melbourne shouting about "the Americans protecting their own." Leonski was hanged at the Old Melbourne Jail by the US army.

The walking on the hands picture is what gave Leonski away...the only cue the police found near the bodies was hand prints in mud.
The film is a good case study and worth a look.

BILL HUNTER 27 February 1940 - 25 May 2011 (Det.Sgt. Adams)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By John Howard on March 11, 2010
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
A little seen film based in Australia where an American soldier becomes a serial killer of young Aussie women. Very well done. Very believeable.
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