No Time for Sergeants

With World War II and the Korean War safely in the past, the period sandwiched between them and the Vietnam War was a time for military comedies. On television there was “The Phil Silvers Show,” aka “Sergeant Bilko,” and on the big screen there was “No Time for Sergeants.”

This 1958 release came with a cast of several young actors who went on to greater fame. They included Andy Griffith in the starring role of country bumpkin Will Stockdale; a pre-Barney Fife Don Knotts; a pre-Johnny Yuma Nick Adams; a pre-Cpl. Max Klinger Jamie Farr; and Raymond Bailey, who would make a name for himself as banker Milburn Drysdale in “The Beverly Hillbillies.”

The movie follows the comedic exploits of Stockdale and his compatriots as they face the rigors of Air Force Basic Training. During the induction process, Stockdale completes a medical questionnaire and is asked “Have you ever broken any bones?” To which he replies, “I broke a leg bone once.” Then adds, “He still limps a bit, the feller whose leg bone I broke.”

Eventually Stockdale gets inducted, classified and endures a stint as “Permanent Latrine Orderly,” which he considers a promotion. He graduates from Basic Training along with his sidekick Ben, played by Adams. After some unauthorized hijinks, they both are transferred into the Infantry.

A breezy comedy presented at a time when the American public was ready for a lighthearted look at the military, it was a box office smash. What’s most fun about watching this movie in 2021 are the performances by Griffith, Knotts, Adams and Farr: four young, unknown actors who were about to break through to superstardom.

To view the trailer, click here.

For options to rent or buy, click here.

To view a scene from the movie, click here.

To buy the novel upon which the movie was based, click here.

To view a television production based on the book, click here.

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Steve Corbo

A founding member and corporate secretary of the Italian American Veterans Museum, Steve Corbo is the museum’s curator and a military consultant for Fra Noi. He has served for 25 years as president of S.A. Corbo & Associates Inc., providing professional liability insurance to health care providers. The son and nephew of World War II veterans and a passionate military historian for over 50 years, he has written and published articles on a variety of topics, including military history, and serves as the military consultant for Fra Noi, the Chicago-area Italian-American magazine.

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