DVD Review: No Time for Sergeants (1958)

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Mention the name Andy Griffith and undoubtedly one of the first images that enters your head is the sight of him walking towards the fishing hole with young Ron Howard during the whistled credits of The Andy Griffith Show.

Yet to only know the actor from his television series work is to underestimate him completely and for the most daring of film fans, there is no greater thrill in discovering his immense range than by taking a look at two very different movies he made just one year apart.

Namely, take the time to seek out A Face in the Crowd by Elia Kazan which helped pave the way for Network and then the far more comedic, satire-free 1958 release No Time For Sergeants that's been released by Warner Brothers in a gorgeous remastered edition that's removed grain to make it as shiny as a military sergeant's boots during inspection day.

When viewed today for the first time in a post-Forrest Gump world, I couldn't believe how very much the two films had in common as Griffith plays a sweet but dimwitted Southern farmboy who gets called to the draft to serve the United States Air Force.

Obviously he doesn't sit on a park bench with a box of chocolates. However, if you watched No Time for Sergeants just before viewing Gump's entire military sequence involving his new friend Bubba (in this film embodied by his pal Ben Whitledge played by Nick Adams) and Forrest's Lieutenant Dan that's Sergeant King (Myron McCormick) in No Time, you'll no doubt be able to appreciate some of the similarities of this possible influence on not just Tom Hanks and director Robert Zemeckis but also on Eric Roth's screenplay adaptation of the Winstoon Groom novel.

Of course, they're very different movies overall but it's safe to say that if you're nuts about one, you'll no doubt fall laughing head over shaking feet for the other in this hilarious classic that follows the adventures of Will Stockdale (Griffith) as he tries to do his best in the Air Force. Unfortunately in doing so, he takes everything literally to the point where instead of regular training, he's given the job P.L.O. or Permanent Latrine Orderly by the exasperated Sergeant who persuades Will he's been given a promotion before he's even been classified.

Helmed by Mister Roberts director Mervin LeRoy and featuring many of the same Broadway cast members like Griffith, Don Knotts, and McCormick who earned accolades and/or acclaim for their turns on stage, Sergeants is one release guaranteed to keep you in stitches, all the while making you curious to seek out some of the other feature films that the versatile Sheriff of Mayberry – Mr. Andy Griffith – took part in during his enviable career.

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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received a review copy of this title in order to evaluate it for my readers, which had no impact whatsoever on whether or not it received a favorable or unfavorable critique.