The Sergeant (1968 film)

The Sergeant is a 1968 American drama film directed by John Flynn and starring Rod Steiger and John Phillip Law. It was released by Warner Bros.-Seven Arts.[2]

The Sergeant
Directed byJohn Flynn
Produced byRobert Wise
Richard Goldstone
Written byDennis Murphy (screenplay)
Dennis Murphy (novel)
StarringRod Steiger
John Phillip Law
Ludmila Mikaël
Music byMichel Magne
Distributed byWarner Bros.-Seven Arts
Release date
  • December 25, 1968 (1968-12-25)
Running time
108 min
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.2 million (US/ Canada rentals)[1]


A dedicated, decorated war veteran, Master Sergeant Callan (Rod Steiger), is posted in France at a fuel supply depot in 1952. Finding a lack of discipline under the frequently drunk Capt. Loring, he takes charge in a tough, no-nonsense manner.

But distracting the sergeant is a physical attraction to one of his men, Private First Class Thomas Swanson (John Phillip Law), that seems at odds with everything in Callan's personality. He makes Swanson his orderly and befriends him socially, but behind his back scares off Solange, the private's girlfriend (Ludmila Mikaël).

Callan's confusion and depression grows and he begins to drink. Unable to resist the urge, the sergeant attempts to kiss Swanson and is violently warded off. He turns up for morning formation hungover and Loring relieves him of duty. Callan goes off to a nearby woods alone, rifle in hand, and commits suicide.



In 1966, Robert Wise set up a company to produce low-budget films that others would direct. He optioned Dennis Murphy’s novel The Sergeant and hired his former assistant, John Flynn, to direct. Flynn says Simon Oakland badly wanted to play the lead, but so did Rod Steiger, who was in much demand at the time, and Steiger played it for less than his usual fee.[3]


The film was excerpted in the documentary film The Celluloid Closet (1996).

See also


  1. "Big Rental Films of 1969", Variety, 7 January 1970 p 15
  2. IMDB entry
  3. Harvey Chartand, "Interview with John Flynn", Shock Cinema 2005 accessed 16 February 2015

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