The Execution of Private Slovik
The Execution of Private Slovik is a nonfiction book by William Bradford Huie
William Bradford Huie
William Bradford "Bill" Huie was an American journalist, editor, publisher, television interviewer, screenwriter, lecturer, and novelist.-Biography:...

, published in 1954, and an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 made-for-television movie that aired on NBC
The National Broadcasting Company is an American commercial broadcasting television network and former radio network headquartered in the GE Building in New York City's Rockefeller Center with additional major offices near Los Angeles and in Chicago...

 on March 13, 1974. The film was written for the screen by
Richard Levinson
Richard Levinson
Richard Levinson was an American writer and producer who often worked in collaboration with William Link. He was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and attended the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor's Degree in Economics in 1956. He served in the United States Army from...

, William Link
William Link
William Theodore Link is an American film and television writer and producer who often worked in collaboration with Richard Levinson.-Life and career:...

 and by Lamont Johnson
Lamont Johnson
Lamont Johnson was an American actor and film director who has appeared in and directed many television shows and movies. He won two Emmy Awards....

 who also served as film director
Film director
A film director is a person who directs the actors and film crew in filmmaking. They control a film's artistic and dramatic nathan roach, while guiding the technical crew and actors.-Responsibilities:...

. The film stars Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez , better known by his stage name Martin Sheen, is an American film actor best known for his performances in the films Badlands and Apocalypse Now , and in the television series The West Wing from 1999 to 2006.He is considered one of the best actors never to be...

, and also marks the first screen appearance of his then 9-yr-old son Charlie Sheen
Charlie Sheen
Carlos Irwin Estevez , better known by his stage name Charlie Sheen, is an American film and television actor. He is the youngest son of actor Martin Sheen....



The book and the film tell the story of Private Eddie Slovik
Eddie Slovik
Edward Donald Slovik was a private in the United States Army during World War II and the only American soldier to be court-martialled and executed for desertion since the American Civil War....

, the only American soldier to be executed
Capital punishment
Capital punishment, the death penalty, or execution is the sentence of death upon a person by the state as a punishment for an offence. Crimes that can result in a death penalty are known as capital crimes or capital offences. The term capital originates from the Latin capitalis, literally...

 for desertion since the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. The film starred Martin Sheen
Martin Sheen
Ramón Gerardo Antonio Estévez , better known by his stage name Martin Sheen, is an American film actor best known for his performances in the films Badlands and Apocalypse Now , and in the television series The West Wing from 1999 to 2006.He is considered one of the best actors never to be...

 as Private Slovik, a performance for which he received an Emmy Award
Emmy Award
An Emmy Award, often referred to simply as the Emmy, is a television production award, similar in nature to the Peabody Awards but more focused on entertainment, and is considered the television equivalent to the Academy Awards and the Grammy Awards .A majority of Emmys are presented in various...

 nomination for Best Lead Actor in a Drama. Sheen said he did not think actors should be compared, and made it clear he would refuse the award. Many critics and viewers consider this to be one of Sheen's finest performances. Among the other Emmy Award nominations, the film was named for "Outstanding Special."


In 1960 Frank Sinatra
Frank Sinatra
Francis Albert "Frank" Sinatra was an American singer and actor.Beginning his musical career in the swing era with Harry James and Tommy Dorsey, Sinatra became an unprecedentedly successful solo artist in the early to mid-1940s, after being signed to Columbia Records in 1943. Being the idol of the...

 announced that he would produce a film adaptation of The Execution of Private Slovik, to be written by blacklisted Hollywood 10 screenwriter
Screenwriters or scriptwriters or scenario writers are people who write/create the short or feature-length screenplays from which mass media such as films, television programs, Comics or video games are based.-Profession:...

 Albert Maltz
Albert Maltz
Albert Maltz was an American author and screenwriter. He was one of the Hollywood Ten who were later blacklisted by the Hollywood movie studio bosses....

. This announcement evoked tremendous outrage, with Sinatra accused of being a Communist sympathizer. As Sinatra was campaigning for John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 for President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

, the Kennedy campaign
Political campaign
A political campaign is an organized effort which seeks to influence the decision making process within a specific group. In democracies, political campaigns often refer to electoral campaigns, wherein representatives are chosen or referendums are decided...

 became concerned and ultimately prevailed upon Sinatra to cancel the project. Slovik's execution is featured in a scene in the 1963 film The Victors
The Victors (film)
-Overview:The film follows a group of U.S. soldiers through Europe during World War II, from Britain in 1942, through the fierce fighting in Italy and France, to the uneasy peace of Berlin. It is adapted from a collection of short stories called The Human Kind by British author Alexander Baron,...

, coincidentally accompanied by a Sinatra Christmas recording.

In Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

's 1969 novel Slaughterhouse-Five
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death is a satirical novel by Kurt Vonnegut about World War II experiences and journeys through time of a soldier called Billy Pilgrim...

, Billy Pilgrim
Billy Pilgrim
Billy Pilgrim was an American folk rock duo based in Atlanta, Georgia, comprising Andrew Hyra and Kristian Bush. The band's name was taken from the time-traveling anti-hero of Kurt Vonnegut's novel Slaughterhouse-Five. The name was adopted in 1994; prior to that the duo simply billed itself as...

 finds an abandoned copy of William Bradford Huie's book and reads through it while in a waiting room.

In 1949, a Pentagon source revealed to Huie the existence of a European graveyard of unnamed American soldiers. Huie’s probe identified the grave and name of the only American soldier executed for desertion since the Civil War. The story of ne’er-do-well Eddie Slovik is an example of Huie’s masterful reporting and his tendency to anger the mighty. Eisenhower, who authorized the execution, tried to stop the book. Frank Sinatra bought the screen rights but never made a movie. He didn’t want to anger friend John Kennedy. Award-winning filmmaker Richard Dubelman acquired the film rights from Sinatra, and after years of dedicated work finally convinced Universal Studios to help him make it as a TV-movie. It starred Martin Sheen and, according to one website, was the highest rated made-for-TV special until Roots
Roots (TV miniseries)
Roots is a 1977 American television miniseries based on Alex Haley's fictional novel Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Roots received 36 Emmy Award nominations, winning nine. It also won a Golden Globe and a Peabody Award. It received unprecedented Nielsen ratings with the finale still...


External links

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