Publicity

 

 


Story

As retirement looms ever closer, Sergeant Grimshaw (William Hartnell) dreams of ending his Army career on a high with his last intake of recruits taking away the coveted Star Squad prize.  But Grimshaw’s hopes appear dashed when he meets his recruits, a group of misfits and malcontents who have anything but the right stuff.

Charlie Sage (Bob Monkhouse) received his call-up papers on his wedding day, so a life in the Army is the last thing on his mind.  His fellow recruits show similar promise – hypochondriac Horace Strong is convinced that he’s suffering every disease known to medical science (and a few more besides), James Bailey (Kenneth Williams) resents the very presence of the Army and would much rather focus on the finer things in life. Pete Golightly (Charles Hawtrey) is the clumsiest recruit in this, or any other man’s army; and Miles Heywood’s (Terence Longdon) father is a top ranking General – he only enlisted because he is slumming it.

Faced with this set of the rawest of raw recruits, Sergeant Grimshaw resigns himself to going out with somewhat less than a bang.  But what Dragon Platoon lack in the right stuff, they make up for out of sheer determination.

 

A Peter Rogers Production
Directed by Gerald Thomas

1958
Black & White

Screenplay: Norman Hudis, based on The Bull Boys by RF Delderfield
Additional material - John Antrobus
Music: Bruce Montgomery
Certificate U
83 minutes

Sergeant Grimshaw - William Hartnell
Charlie Sage Bob Monkhouse
Mary - Shirley Eaton
Captain Potts - Eric Barker
Nora - Dora Bryan
Corporal Copping - Bill Owen
Horace Strong - Kenneth Connor
Peter Golightly - Charles Hawtrey
James Bailey - Kenneth Williams
Miles Heywood - Terence Longdon
Herbert Brown - Norman Rossington
Captain Clark - Hattie Jacques
Andy Galloway - Gerald Campion
First Recruit - Jack Smethurst
Thirteenth Recruit - Henry Living

 

 

 

"Kenneth Williams, Kenneth Connor and Charles Hawtrey are the prankish misfits who become the hilarious bane of an army officer's existence when he takes a bet he will turn them into Star Award soldiers - or bust!"

 


Review

The Carry On films get off to an unassuming start with perhaps the most traditionally comic entry in the series.  Of course, at the time the team had no idea they were taking the first steps on the road to becoming a comedy legend. Carry On Sergeant was simply a low-budget, stand-alone comedy; just another in the string of movies put together by Rogers and Thomas.  When Carry On Sergeant went before the cameras, there were no particular expectations other than that “The Bull Boys” (as it was originally known) should make people laugh and return a profit.  Judged solely on these criteria it was a resounding success.

The characters (or caricatures) that we have come to know and love as the series goes on are embryonic in this first outing, but their foundations are there.  Kenneth Williams represents the puffed up voice of rebellion, haughty and somewhat snobbish; Charles Hawtrey is the delicate, effete fool and Kenneth Connor a bumbling mess of nerves. He’s a somewhat heightened “everyman” character with whom the audience can easily sympathise. 

The real stars of the film are those who’ll go on to become the Carry On team, although whether that was the intent at the time is debatable; I would suggest not.  The success of Carry On Sergeant is the serendipitous result of a talented cast of seasoned professionals, a scriptwriter who knows his onions and a director with a flair for physical comedy all coming together to create a perfect vignette of life in National Service.

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