Question: I'm dating myself, but I remember a very moving and eye-opening television production called The Execution of Private Slovik, which was my introduction to actor Martin Sheen. I can't place clearly whether it was broadcast in the late '60s or early '70s, but I remember there was another actor playing Slovik's friend who impressed me. Who was it, when was it and is it available on VHS or DVD? Laura D., Rapid City, S.D.
Televisionary: Not to worry, Laura; dating yourself is what this column's all about.
The Execution of Private Slovik, based on William Bradford Huie's 1954 book of the same title, told the true story of private Eddie Slovik, who in 1945 was the first American since the Civil War to be executed as a deserter. A little history: Frank Sinatra was the first to try to turn the book into a movie he wanted Steve McQueen for the role but it was TV writers William Link and Richard Levinson who ultimately assembled the project, which aired on NBC in 1974. (Dustin Hoffman was in the running for the part but, as you say, Sheen eventually played it.)
Now, as for who played Slovik's friend: I've never seen it and wasn't able to narrow it down, but I'm betting you're thinking of Gary Busey, Matt Clark or Charles Haid. However, if someone wants to e-mail me the answer, I'll be happy to update the info. in a future column. And as far as I know, the movie's not currently available on either VHS or DVD.