Sergeant Ryker is a 1968 drama–war film directed by Buzz Kulik and starring Lee Marvin and Bradford Dillman. The film was originally broadcast on television as "The Case Against Paul Ryker", a 1963 two-part episode of Kraft Suspense Theatre. It was released as a feature film in 1968 to capitalise on Marvin's popularity from The Dirty Dozen. Its second run paired it as a double feature with Counterpoint.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Buzz Kulik|
|Produced by||Frank Telford|
|Written by||William D. Gordon|
|Music by||John Williams|
|Edited by||Robert B. Warwick Jr.|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Box office||$1,000,000 (US/ Canada)|
Sgt. Ryker (Lee Marvin) is an American soldier charged with treason during the Korean War, he is court-martialled and prosecuted by Capt. David Young (Bradford Dillman) and convicted and sentenced to death.
Ryker's wife, Ann (Vera Miles), insists that her husband received an inadequate defense. She believes his story that he had been on a secret mission, assigned by a superior officer who has since died and can no longer vouch for him.
Capt. Young believes Ryker is guilty, but he too thinks Ryker received an inadequate legal defence. He persuades the commanding general to give Ryker a new trial. The general reluctantly does so, however he insists that this time Young must serve as Ryker's defence counsel. Ryker has already resigned himself to his fate, and has to be persuaded to go along with the re-trial. As it unfolds all the evidence is damning to Ryker, the best Young can do is establish that Ryker's version of events is not impossible. The defence is also undermined by several of Ryker's lies and omissions, which are exposed during testimony at the trial, and also by Ryker's occasional fits of temper. A further complication ensues when a romantic attachment develops between Young and Ryker's wife. Ryker is furious when he realizes it has happened, and the general on hearing about it tells Young he will be court-martialled as soon as Ryker's trial is over.
The prosecutor, Maj. Whitaker, unearths new evidence damning to the defendant's case, and all seems lost. At the last minute, however, Young learns some information from a Sergeant Winkler which verifies some aspects of Ryker's claim, and which when followed up on by Young, is enough to compel that Ryker be set free.
- "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
- "Sergeant Ryker". FilmAffinity. filmaffinity.com. Retrieved 22 January 2016.
- "Sergeant Ryker". Turner Classic Movies. Atlanta: Turner Broadcasting System (Time Warner). Retrieved November 6, 2016.