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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Military > Spoof > No Time For Sergeants (1958/Warner Bros. DVD)

No Time For Sergeants (1958/Warner Bros. DVD)


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: D     Film: B-



The military comedy was once a major subgenre prior to the Vietnam fallout and produced some interesting films and TV shows.  Mervyn LeRoy (Little Caesar, Mister Roberts) helmed the original version of No Time Fort Sergeants (1958) and it made likable character actor Andy Griffith a star.  Over a half-century later, he still is.


Before the tremendous success of his Andy Griffith Show (a spin-off from Make Room For Daddy) or the related (and also inspired by this film) Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (a spin-off series as well), Griffith had played the character before on stage and even on a TV special prior to this hit release.  Though some items are obviously dated, this film version holds up incredibly well, and when you are not laughing, you’ll be amazed at the talent involved and just how good this still flows throughout.


Griffith is Pvt. Will Stockdale, a new arrival who has been drafted; something he does not know until he gets a visit from a government man informing him he was sent a draft notice.  He did not know this or somehow did not receive it, but he immediately packs up and ships out.  There, he drives Sgt. Orville King (Myron McCormick) up the wall and this leads to a series of misadventures like no one in any branch of the military has ever seen before.


Griffith is great and you can see why he became the star he did, lively with more manic energy than he would be known for later, but a fine comic performance that made him a star and rightly so.  This is like watching a less broadly silly version of the old Gomer Pyle series, which may appeal to more than a few people.  Other more familiar faces include Murray Hamilton (Jaws), Nick Adams, an uncredited but highly recognizable Jamie Farr and the late, great Don Knotts as an aptitude tester who steals his scenes in an early breakthrough performance himself.  Of course, he and Griffith would be immortalized together on Andy Griffith Show, but even this early appearance shows their chemistry.


Ira Levin (Rosemary’s Baby, The Stepford Wives, Sliver) and John Lee Mahin (Heaven Knows, Mr. Allison) adapted the Mac Hyman novel well and wrote a truly funny, smart screenplay.  I liked the film more now than when I first saw it a very long time ago and it certainly deserves this long overdue DVD release.



The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 black and white image was shot by Director of Photography Harold Rosson (The Bad Seed, The Wizard Of Oz, Duel In The Sun, On The Town, Signing In The Rain) and it is a fine shoot throughout looking pretty good here.  Some shots can be soft and lack detail, but the source print is clean and does not show its age like so many such films from the time too.  This includes good detail and depth in the best scenes.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono is also good and clean for its age, though the compression of this older Dolby codec is holding some aspects of the sound behind.  There are sadly no extras, not even a trailer, though an audio commentary would have been a good idea here.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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