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Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson--Training


The Court-Martial of Jackie Robinson was a low-budget made-for-TV effort that focused more on the racial atmosphere in America during World War II than on military details, but we were fortunate to have a director on the project who believed in getting details right in support of the larger picture. To the extent his meager budget would allow, director Larry Peerce gave Warriors Inc. a free hand in choosing uniforms, vehicles and weapons, and in training the principal performers to portray believable soldiers of the WW II era. Short on cash for major set pieces, we did a lot with period military trucks and a pair of M-4A1 Sherman tanks to fill the screen and keep things moving. Those two tanks provided a solid training base for the main actors involved with the Jackie Robinson character and after a few days of bumps and bruises, we had crews sliding in and out of the tanks like seasoned vets. We learned a lot about Shermans and their operation during this phase of training for the film.

An element of the film requiring extensive and difficult research was the actual court-martial scenes. I obtained a circa 1940 copy of the Manual For Courts-Martial and the Articles of War to study them diligently. I also found a few elderly lawyers who had served in the Judge Advocate General's Corps during World War II to advise me on appropriate procedures in the courtroom. Andre Braugher who played 2nd Lt. Jackie Robinson was an avid student and listened closely to my advice about his performance as a soldier.