Director: Martin Sheen
Screenwriters: Dennis Schryack, Gordon Weaver

Institute History

  • 1991 Sundance Film Festival


Martin Sheen's motion-picture directorial debut focuses on the story of a young soldier whose father's death fuels an apathetic rebelliousness that lands him in the stockade. In the film, set in West Germany in the midsixties, F.F. Bean, played by Charlie Sheen, goes on a drunken spree which results in a ninety-day sentence. Upon checking into the confined barracks, he's confronted with the reality that all his barracksmates are black and grouped tightly to resist his presence. But gradually their mutual hatred for Sergeant McKinney (Martin Sheen) and the common ground of their imprisonment pave, the way for an unsteady alliance among these men whose existence is defined by their marginality. McKinney sees the possibility of rehabilitating Bean if he can separate him from the others, hut McKinney's estrangement from his own son magnifies the struggle to win Bean over. Ultimately the young private's intransigence sparks a confrontation which has predictable, but tragic, consequences.

The film exists as a complex of issues and subtexts: racism, the tension between authority and rebelliousness, the strength of social groups, and the psychopathology of family relationships. It's highlighted by strong performances by Charlie Sheen, Fishbume and the other soldiers.

Based on the novel Count a Lonely Cadence

— Geoffrey Gilmore

Screening Details

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