Rock the Oscars: A SOLDIER’S STORY

A SOLDIER’S STORY, Denzel Washington, 1984

In September and October of 1983, Norman Jewison and the cast of A Soldier’s Story filmed the movie at various locations in Arkansas.  Little Rock’s Lamar Porter Field was the site for the baseball scenes.  Adolph Caesar would receive an Oscar nomination for his performance in this movie.  Howard Rollins had recently been an Oscar nominee for his performance in Ragtime.  Future Oscar winner Denzel Washington was also featured in the cast.

Based on Charles Fuller’s Pulitzer Prize winning A Soldier’s Play, the movie was directed by Jewison from a script adapted by Fuller.  The film was nominated for three Oscars: Best Picture, Caesar in the Best Supporting Actor category and Fuller in the Best Adapted Screenplay category.

While the movie was filming in Arkansas, Governor Bill Clinton visited the set.  He had also been instrumental in making the Arkansas National Guard and some of the military facilities in the state available.  In addition to filming at Lamar Porter, scenes were shot in Fort Smith and at Fort Chaffee.


Heritage Month – Lamar Porter Field

Lamar PorterLamar Porter Athletic Field is located in the Stifft Station neighborhood. Construction started in 1934 and continued for 18 months by the Works Progress Administration on a 10 acre site.

The 1,500 seat grandstand included club rooms, shower and locker rooms and a concession stand. It was first used by Boys’ Club teams in 1936. By 1937, City leagues and American Legion teams used it.  A playground, softball field and tennis courts were constructed next to the baseball field.

Lamar Porter Field is remarkable not only for its architecture, but also for its history.  Thousands of boys growing up in Little Rock played ball here.  One of those was future Baltimore Oriole Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson.  He has come back numerous times and has aided in fundraising efforts to restore the field.

The baseball sequence from A Soldier’s Story with Denzel Washington was filmed at Lamar Porter Field.

The field is named in memory of Lamar Porter, whose family donated the land and some money to help with the construction.  A Little Rock native, he was killed in May 1934 while he was attending Washington and Lee University.

Today Lamar Porter Field and the multipurpose field are home to RBI (Reviving Baseball in the Inner-city) which is an official program of Major League Baseball. Both Catholic High School and Episcopal Collegiate use Lamar Porter as their home field.

Lamar Porter Field was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on December 6, 1990.

12 Days of Christmas Movies: THE BISHOP’S WIFE & THE PREACHER’S WIFE

the-bishops-wife-posterI will admit I have unique taste in movies veering from the ridiculous to the sublime.  This extends to my Christmas movie viewing.

It is not that I dislike It’s A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story or Miracle on 34th Street, it is that they have become cliché. I long since tired of watching them.  Christmas movies should make me laugh, think, and/or feel.

In the final Twelve Days to Christmas, I’ll share my favorite Christmas movies. Some are designed to be Christmas movies, others simply take place at the Christmas season.  In a few instances, I feature two movies because they are linked to each other (doing so allowed me to include 5 more). They are largely in alphabetical order because I could not rank them.  The one exception is perhaps my favorite Christmas movie.

To get things started The Bishop’s Wife and The Preacher’s Wife.

I remember first seeing The Bishop’s Wife when I was a child visiting my grandparents at Christmas.  My uncle loved old movies so he would watch them a great deal.  Back then, there were only five cable stations and the 4 Arkansas broadcast stations (if you count AETN).  But there seemed to be more on TV worth watching then with fewer choices.  Anyway, I remember seeing this movie.

What’s not to love?  Cary Grant, David Niven, Loretta Young?  Any movie with two future Oscar winners and Cary Grant has to be good.  Perhaps it was this movie that planted the seeds of Episcopalianism in my then-Baptist head.  There is much humor and heart in this movie, but it does not hit you over the head with its message.

It was remade as The Preacher’s Wife with Tony winners Denzel Washington and Courtney B. Vance, Tony nominee Loretta Devine and the incomparable Whitney Huston.  Yes, it is inferior to the original, but it is still fun to watch.

ROCKing the TONY AWARDS – Denzel Washington


Little Rock connection: Played baseball at Lamar Porter Field while filming scenes for A Soldier’s Story.

Tony Awards connection: Won the 2010 Tony for Actor in a Play for his performance in Fences. Currently starring in A Raisin in the Sun which is nominated for five Tony Awards tonight, including Best Revival of a Play.

Movies in the Park – REMEMBER THE TITANS

1368478223-movies_in_the_parkDon’t forget that Movies in the Park continues tonight.  The featured film is the 2000 football film Remember the Titans.  Based on a true story, it stars Denzel Washington as a coach charged with leading a newly integrated football team in 1971 outside of Washington DC.

Joining Washington in the cast are Ryan Gosling, Hayden Panettiere, Kip Pardue, Donald Faison, Kate Bosworth, Will Patton, Wood Harris, Ryan Hurst, Craig Kirkwood, Nicole Ari Parker, Earl Poitier, and Burgess Jenkins

Movies in the Park is a free outdoor movie series in Little Rock’s River Market. They take place at the First Security Amphitheatre. The mission of Movies in the Park is help foster a sense of community and enjoyment in downtown Little Rock and throughout Central Arkansas by bringing people together to enjoy a movie in a unique setting along the scenic banks of the Arkansas River.

Movies start at dark. Visitors are welcome to bring picnics but please no glass containers and pick up afterwards. Those choosing not to bring their own picnic, the park does have concessions available for sale.

Bring bug spray, picnic and family and have a good time!

The Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau Technical Services department provides all the equipment for the movies.