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“No Time for Sergeants”
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: Warner Brothers
Genre:
Comedy
Release Date:
5/17/10
Special Features:

Nothing

Review:

Although one could deny it, “No Time for Sargeants” the classic Andy Griffith film clearly inspired both “The Andy Griffith Show” and, more importantly, “Gomer Pyle, USMC” (and for the record there WAS a TV show spin-off of the movie that didn’t’ have Griffith nor did it last more than a couple of episodes as it lacked the witty writing the original Broadway Play but, more importantly, the cast of the play and film. ***

Andy Griffith distinguished himself as talented and versatile actor taking on the role of Will Stockdale a backwoods hillbilly who ends up being drafted into the U.S. Air Force. Naïve more than dense (although he certainly IS dense at times)Stockdale is escorted to the bus that will take him to the induction center catching the watchful eye of local bully Irvin S. Blanchard (Murray Hamilton) who discovers the perfect target for his torment in Stockdale (or so he thinks). Stockdale himself finds a buddy immediately with the near sighted Ben Whitledge (Nick Adams in one of his best comedic performances) who wants nothing to do with the Air Force; he’s game to fight but he wants a fair fight in the infantry! ***

Once the inductees are in boot camp all heck breaks loose as the D.I. Sergeant Orville C. King (Myron McCormick) quickly discovers that Stockdale isn’t trying to be a problem soldier because he’s a smart alec—he discovers that Stockdale IS a problem because he’s so darn dense and naïve to the workings of the real world. King discovers that “misplacing” this soldier and restricting him to latrine duty (he cleans it spotless EVERY time) can’t protect him from aggravation. King just wants to serve out his last year in peace but finds that he’s got his work cut out for him and will be embarrassed every step of the way. ***

Featuring a terrific cameo by Don Knotts (who also appeared in the Broadway production and worked so well with Griffith that he ended up on Griffith’s show as Barney Fife), “No Time for Sergeants” holds up remarkably well as a comedy and none of that is due to the often stiff drection of Mervyn LeRoy who often helmed Warner’s stage to film adaptations. LeRoy isn’t a bad direction but his static set ups and poorly framed compositions designed to highlight a “Broadway Play” NOT a movie adaptation of a Broadway Play. There are many ways a number of talented directors could have opened this up without damaging or altering the material. The truth is that LeRoy’s direction is strictly serviceable and does the film no favors. Most of the vitality of the film springs from the strong performances and the clever writing of the play not from anything that LeRoy brings to the table. ---

Image & Sound:

A nice looking black and white transfer in a slightly altered aspect ratio of 1.85:1 looks quite good, the compositions seem a little tight and forced suggesting that this isn’t the intended aspect ratio for the film at all. Image detail is crisp throughout while the blacks vary a bit but are mostly on the darker side with nice contrast. It’s clear that this was pulled from a variety of sources as the image quality varies a bit (the box claims that this is from the original source material and that could be but if that’s the case, some of it has aged and needs a restoration). Overall the image quality is quite good. ***

Audio is in the original mono with dialogue crisp and clear.

Special Features:

Nothing not even the original trailer for the film are included.

Final Words:

A good comedy that glides along on the performances and charm of the actors and the writing, “No Time for Sergeants” stalls in the last third primarily due to LeRoy’s flat, uninspired direction (although an argument could be made that the film should have been trimmed by about 15 minutes). Truly, the original presentation of the play on The United States Steel Hour while lacking the resources of the film probably played better with more inspired direction (and a sharp, witty script by Ira Levin).

 

 
 
 
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