In 1981 Howard Rollins' role as Coalhouse Walker, Jr. in the Depression Era drama, "Ragtime", probably paved the way for him to become a first rate black actor in Hollywood. However, it was his role as Capt. Davenport in 1984's "A Soldier's Story" that solidified that thought. Anyone who has seen 1967's "In the Heat of the Night", starring the one and only Sidney Potier, would certainly draw comparisons to the two performances. Rollins' performance is simply marvelous. As a World War II army officer, he is sent by his superiors to a base in a racially divided southern town to investigate the murder of a platoon sergeant under mysterious circumstances. Adolph Caesar's performance as Sgt. Waters(the victim in question), a veteran soldier(who happens to be black)who wreaks with animosity towards his own race is riveting. Although slightly built, his domineering persona, bigoted conviction, and ornery demeanor are imposing to say the least. Denzel Washington,(in one of his early roles) as Pfc. Peterson, is his usual conspicuous self. Wings Hauser, as Lt. Byrd,is perfect as a racist army officer who is a prime suspect in the case. Although most people who haven't seen "A Soldiers Story" will undoubtedly be shocked by its conclusion, it is the perfect ending to a movie that depicts how people are not only preyed upon by other races but also by corrupted descendants of its own lineage. As for Howard Rollins becoming the next Sidney Potier, his downfall and untimely death are well documented. However, the torch was obviously passed on to another actor featured in the film, Mr. Denzel Washington, who, like Sir Sidney Potier, is now considered one of the greatest actors of all time, black or otherwise.