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ROD STEIGER COMMANDS 'THE SERGEANT' WITH JOHN PHILLIP LAW

Year: 1968 Rating: ****1/2

It's not just what THE SERGEANT is about, or even who it's about: An American World War II hero returned to France ten years later for a peacetime gig not as risky or daring: This Army Sergeant of military construction laborers wielding old-school brass tactics to shape things up... until both someone and something distracts him...

MSgt. Albert Callan is a closet homosexual, and on the surface, Rod Steiger portrays a lonely Army lifer who finally finds a true friend he can mentor and/or simply hang around with... 

Rod Steiger and John Phillip Law in The Sergeant

Of course it's deeper than that; but as a film from 1968 about 1952, John Flynn directs with a unique, strategic, cautious approach aptly suited for and catered to Steiger's creepy-harsh yet desperately sympathetic performance.

On the other side is  tall, handsome John Phillip Law, who often plays calm wooden types but he plays them well... His targeted Pfc. Swanson to Steiger's subtle style of persuasive bullying... after being shifted to his personal office clerk... is, in its own way, equal to the intense title role...

Rod Steiger in The Sergeant

Law's oblivious reactions to the passive/aggressive action that only an offbeat genius like Steiger could effectively pull off within this sparse, subtle maze countered by French starlet Ludmila Mikaël as Law's gorgeous town-next-door girlfriend (who he's captured to like Steiger is to him), caught in the middle of something that would not only be considered completely impossible back then, but never fathomed in the first place. 

And yet, putting the controversial theme aside, THE SERGEANT is an outright buddy flick bromance coinciding with the gentle male/female love story. Surprisingly, it's the latter that lacks conviction and seduction.

Rod Steiger in THE SERGEANT
Rod Steiger in THE SERGEANT
Ludmila Mikaël THE SERGEANT
Rod Steiger in THE SERGEANT
John Phillip Law and Rod Steiger in The Sergeant 
John Phillip Law and Rod Steiger bonding in THE SERGEANT by Seven Arts Productions
Top: Rod Steiger with Bottom: John Phillip Law gunning for THE SERGEANT
Cute and flirtatious, uncredited French girl in THE SERGEANT
Lovely French ingenue Ludmila Mikaël as Solange Gérard in THE SERGEANT
The supercool Warner Seven Arts Logo on the bottom right for this powerful poster of THE SERGEANT
Quentin Tarantino shouts-out THE SERGEANT in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood
Rod Steiger (beating Simon Oakland for the gig, thankfully) and John Phillip Law in The Sergeant
Rod Steiger as The Sergeant, a role heavily campaigned for by Simon Oakland... the right choice was made
John Phillip Law rides Ludmila Mikaël as Solange Gérard in THE SERGEANT

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