No Time for Sergeants (1958)

Film Title: No Time for Sergeants notime

Year: 1958

Studio: Warner Brothers

Silent or Talkie: Talkie

Genre: Comedy

Starring:

  • Andy Griffith
  • Myron McCormick
  • Nick Adams
  • Don Knotts

Review

Andy Griffith is perhaps best known as Sheriff Andy Taylor, the law enforcement in a little town called Mayberry. Later in his career, he would bring another timeless character to life – Benjamin Matlock, a lawyer as famous for his accent as he was for winning cases. But the latter did not appear until the 1980s and the former was introduced to the public in 1960. Prior to those, Griffith was a rising star whose comedic abilities promised to take him far in the entertainment world. He began his career as a monologist and eventually transitioned into television work, performing in a 1955 teleplay version of No Time for Sergeants (as part of The United States Steel Hour), a farce adapted from the best-selling novel by Mac Hyman. The story was then taken to Broadway, opening at the Alvin Theatre on October 20, 1955. Griffith reprised his role as Will Stockdale, a country boy drafted into the United States Army Air Force during WWII, and received a 1956 Tony Award nomination for Best Actor.

In 1958, Warner Bros. released a film version of No Time for Sergeants, assigning the lead role to Griffith, whose performance the year prior in A Face in the Crowd, garnered him critical acclaim. Sergeants was directed by Mervyn LeRoy and co-starred Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, and Don Knotts. It was Knotts’ first film, but like Griffith, he’d appeared in the Broadway adaptation. That first meeting of the two comedians developed into a close friendship; the camaraderie would strengthen a few years later, when Griffith, looking for someone to play Deputy Barney Fife on his new television show, remembered Knotts’ talent for comedy and hired him.

The 1958 film version of Sergeants once again trails Will Stockdale, a hillbilly accused of dodging the draft, but who claims that his father has been tearing up his draft notices. After professing his patriotism, he’s taken to the bus station to await departure. A huge series of misadventures follow, some more ludicrous than others, and the Air Force soon realizes that the war may be the least of its problems.

On Video

Warner Bros. released No Time for Sergeants on DVD in 2010, opting for a regular mass release instead of including it as part of their Warner Archive subdivision. There are no bonus features, but the film itself has been digitally re-mastered from the original elements. The widescreen video is crisp and clean, and the audio is well-balanced throughout. With so many variations of Sergeants floating around, including the subsequent television series which debuted in the fall of 1964, it would have been nice to see a documentary chronicling its foundation as a novel and eventual success as a play, film, and television show. Aside from the lack of extras, the disc is nicely presented.

Conclusion

Anyone looking for a good time will enjoy No Time for Sergeants. It benefits from its own silliness as well as from the professionalism of its cast. Andy Griffith is perfect as Will Stockdale, and Myron McCormick and Nick Adams are great as Sgt. Orville King and Pvt. Ben Whitledge, respectively. Throw Don Knotts as Cpl. John Brown into the mix and you end up with laughs from beginning to end.

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