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DVD Review HTF DVD REVIEW: No Time for Sergeants

Discussion in 'DVD' started by Ken_McAlinden, May 3, 2010.

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  1. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Well-Known Member
    Reviewer

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    No Time for Sergeants

    Directed By: Mervyn LeRoy

    Starring: Andy Griffith, Myron McCormick, Nick Adams, Murray Hamilton


    Studio: Warner Bros.

    Year: 1957

    Rated: NR

    Film Length: 119 minutes

    Aspect Ratio: 16:9

    Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish

    Release Date: May 4, 2010

    The Film ****

    In No Time for Sergeants, Andy Griffith plays Will Stockdale, a young man from the back woods of Georgia who is drafted into the Air Force. A series of misunderstandings begin when he is mistaken for a draft dodger as a result of his "Pa" never letting him see his induction letters. He arrives at the barracks mistaken for a troublemaker and unwittingly makes an enemy of fellow recruit Irving Blanchard (Hamilton) who tries to "pull rank" on him based on his "almost a year" of ROTC training. He does manage to make one friend in the form of Private Benjamin Whitledge (Adams) although their friendship is tested by the ever-escalating farcical circumstances that result from people over or under estimating Stockdale's intelligence and worldliness. The most humorous misunderstandings emanate from the relationship between Stockdale and Sgt. Orville C. King (McCormick).  King's career Air Force "don't rock the boat" philosophy is constantly being capsized by the tsunami of backwoods logic informing Stockdale'a every word and deed.

    Mervyn LeRoy's No Time for Sergeants is a cinematic adaptation of the successful Broadway play from 1955. From the original play's cast, it reunites lead actors Andy Griffith as Will Stockdale and Myron McCormick as Sergeant Orville King. It also brings back Don Knotts and James Millhollin in comic supporting roles as military personnel who attempt to evaluate Stockdale's manual dexterity and psychological health, much to their own frustration. Significant newcomers to the cast include Nick Adams as Ben Whitledge, a diminutive recruit who becomes Stockdale's best friend, and Murray Hamilton as Irving Blanchard, a recruit who begins to view Stockdale as his nemesis.

    The play firmly established Griffith's acting career when it debuted in 1955 as both a one hour teleplay on the "United States Steel Hour" television program and a Broadway production that earned him a Tony nomination. The character of Will Stockdale is only a slight extension of the persona adopted by Griffith in his popular stand-up comedy act. By the time he was able to re-create his signature stage role on the big screen in 1958, he had already managed to subvert this persona to chilling effect in A Face in the Crowd. Other than looking a bit old for the part, he has no problem slipping back into the lovable rube role and his comic chemistry with King remains formidable.

    The cinematic adaptation sticks close to the play, but opens it up in logical, but nonetheless clever ways, even working in some rear projection special effects process shots for a sequence where Stockdale and Whitledge find themselves on a training plane run unwittingly hurtling towards a nuclear explosion. In the end, it does what any good film adaptation of a successful play should do, but very few actually manage to accomplish. It captures the signature performances of its two leads for posterity, faithfully conveys the essence of the source material, and still manages to feel distinctly cinematic.

    Fans of cinematic bathroom portrayals will have to debate whether this film officially trumps Psycho as the first on-screen depiction of a functioning toilet in a major studio film or not. The scene where Stockdale takes an inordinate pride in his position of "Permanent Latrine Orderly" and rigs the seats of a row of toilets to perform a salute may be considered by some to be a "grey area" since the toilets are not technically performing their primary function.

    The Video ****

    The DVD approximates the film's original theatrical aspect ratio by filling the entire 16:9 enhanced frame. While free from significant digital artifacts, the transfer appears to have been created from an element more than a couple generations removed from the original negative. This results in a bit less sharpness, a bit more contrast build-up, and slightly higher grain than would otherwise be apparent. Optical titles and fades look especially "dupey", but are brief enough not to be a serious distraction. Those small caveats aside, the DVD appears to be a more than fair rendering of the source element used with a natural looking range of greyscale that does not appear to have been heavily manipulated in the digital video domain and no excessive detail-robbing filtering of the film grain.

    The Audio ****

    The Dolby Digital 1.0 mono tracks appears to have been derived from one or more high quality magnetic sources. Fidelity and dynamic range are more than acceptable for this only modestly ambitious theatrical mix.

    The Extras ½

    There were rumblings a few years ago that Warner was approaching Andy Griffith to participate in the production of this release in some manner, but for whatever reason, there are no extras on the disc as it has finally been released.

    Packaging

    The disc is packaged in an Amaray-sized "Eco-Box" case with no inserts.

    Summary ****

    Warner has belatedly but welcomely released No Time for Sergeants, Mervyn LeRoy's entertaining cinematic adaptation of the stage play that firmly established Andy Griffith as a leading actor, to DVD.  It is presented with video that accurately captures the appearance of the mildly limited source element, excellent mono audio, and no extras.

    Regards,

     
  2. Dave B Ferris

    Dave B Ferris Well-Known Member

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    Excellent review.

    I have ordered this for pick-up at my local Barnes & Noble.

    I have as much fun storing and organizing my DVD's as with any other aspect, so here's a question: do you think this DVD should be stored with other 'satires', or with other 'straight comedies'?
     
  3. Ken_McAlinden

    Ken_McAlinden Well-Known Member
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    It definitely straddles the line, but I would tip the scales in the favor of "satire".

    Regards,
     
  4. Steve...O

    Steve...O Well-Known Member

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    Ken, thanks for the great review! My own copy has been pre-ordered from Deep Discount, which was selling it for less than a Hamilton. Definitely a great price (but one that reflects the bare bones nature of the disc).

    I'd be curious to hear why Andy was ultimately not included as a bonus feature after WHV hinted at his participation in an earlier chat. I suspect his health may be at play here. He's always seemed very proud of this movie.
     
  5. Richard Gallagher

    Richard Gallagher Well-Known Member
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    I have fond memories of this movie and am anxiously awaiting delivery. Thanks for the review, Ken.
     
  6. Randy_M

    Randy_M Well-Known Member

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    This is a key release for me....I've been waiting years for it.

    Now, if they would release "The Flim Flam Man", that would just about complete me.
     

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