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a right carry on

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carry on sergeant 1958

rating

**********

cast
 

Sgt Grimshaw William Hartnell
Charlie Sage Bob Monkhouse
Captain Potts Eric Barker
Mary Sage Shirley Eaton
Nora Dora Bryan
Horace Strong Kenneth Connor
Peter Golightly Charles Hawtrey
James Bailey Kenneth Williams
Corporal Copping Bill Owen
Miles Heywood Terence Longden
Herbert Brown Norman Rossington
Andy Galloway Gerald Campion
Captain Clark Hattie Jacques
Gun Sgt Cyril Chamberlain
Specialist Gordon Tanner
Specialist Frank Foresyth
Specialist Basil Dignam
Specialist Jack Gatrell
Specialist Arnold Diamond
Specialist Martin Boddey
Medical Corporal Ian Whittaker
Injured Recruit Bernard Kay
Stores Sgt Anthony Sagar
Storeman Alec Bergonzi
Storeman Graham Stewart
Storeman Alexander Harris
Storeman Pat Feeney
Storeman Edward Judd
Storeman Ronald Clarke
Storeman David Williams
Mr Sage Martin Wyldeck
Mary's Mum Helen Goss
Sgt O'Brian Terry Scott
Sgt Matthews John Matthews
Sgt Russell Ed Devereaux
Sheila Leigh Madison
Recruit Jack Smethurst
Recruit Brian Jackson
Recruit Leon Eagles
Recruit Don McCorkindale
Recruit Malcolm Webster
Recruit Patrick Durkin
Recruit James Villiers
Recruit Haydn Ward
Recruit Graydon Gould
Recruit Jeremy Dempster
Recruit Henry Livings
Recruit Terry Dickenson
Recruit Bernard Kay
Recruit Michael Hunt
 
Screenplay Norman Hudis
Producer Peter Rogers
Director Gerald Thomas

plot

For six years Sergeant Grimshawe has been a training sergeant but never the leader of a Star Squad. He accepts a bet from another sergeant that in the next intake, his last before retirement, his squad will pass out top.

The next day Sergeant Grimshawe and his corporal, Corporal Copping, keenly survey the new arrivals. Among them are Charlie Sage, who was married the same morning to Mary and received his notification to report at once to the army during his wedding reception; Horace Strong - a weak willed hypochondriac who imagines himself to be suffering from every disease known to medical science and many that aren't; Miles Heywood - a popsy chasing layabout; Andy Galloway - a rock and roller; Pete Golightly - the clumsiest of clumsy types; and James Baily - an out-and-out individualist who considers the army old fashioned. Unfortunately for Sergeant Grimshawe, all these have been assigned to his squad.

Grimshawe tells Corporal Copping that he's been lumbered with a right shower and has no chance of winning the bet. The Corporal advises him to try kid glove tactics instead of his normal raging manner with the recruits.

That night the new boys visit the NAAFI along with Herbert Brown who has been on one training course after another and never qualified. Charlie, much to his delight, finds that Mary, his newly wedded wife, has followed him to the camp and wangled a temporary job in the NAAFI. She is befriended there by Nora who falls for Charlie's mate Horace. He is petrified when Nora starts making advances towards him.

Mary tells Charlie that Nora has fixed a spare bedroom for their wedding night. This doesn't work out quite as planned as both end up talking words of love to Sergeant Grimshawe!

The following morning Horace reports sick with a long list of imaginary ailment and is shocked to see a female medical officer - Captain Clark. This is the first of many visits to the M.O.....

As days of training pass by, Sergeant Grimshawe and Corporal Copping are becoming more and more gloomy. The squad is the most awkward and difficult they have ever handled and there seems no chance at all of them winning to coveted Star Squad prize. They have an uncanny aptitude for making the worst possible mess of everything they tackle.

The M.O. is fed up with Horace's visits. So she takes him to six specialists who confirm that there is nothing whatsoever wrong with him. What's more, they manage to convince him of the fact and he emerges a new man. Nora is delighted, but more than a little frightened when the new Horace gives her the caveman treatment.

In the hut the night before passing out parade (Sergeant Grimshawe's last day in the army) the shower decide that he has, after all, treated them pretty decently. With the new Horace in fine form they decide to give him an end of service present - and win the Star Squad award.

The passing out parade is watched by Captain Potts who is amazed to see what the Grimshawe squad can do. As they perform task after task with fantastic efficiency Grimshawe watches with tears in his eyes.

The squad have made it and with the Sergeant at their head, they march past the Inspecting General as the Star Squad. Grimshawe's ambition has been fulfilled.

review

In March of 1958 the first 'Carry On' film started rolling. Obviously unaware that they would turn into a series of 31 films, Sergeant is a pretty standard example of British comedy towards the end of the 1950's. Indeed, the popular ITV sitcom 'The Army Game' had recently had a film version made entitled 'I Only Arsked'. This had taken a great deal of money on the local cinema circuit and keen to tap in to the same audience, the Carry On creators made this, the first Carry On.

A major boost to the picture was the presence of William Hartnell, who was taking a sabbatical from the aforementioned Army Game in his role of Sgt. Bullimore. Other famous names were Charles Hawtrey and Norman Rossington who were also linked with the Army Game, 'Billy Bunter' Gerard Campion, a young comedian by the name of Bob Monkhouse was cast as the romantic lead, Kenneth Williams man of a thousand voices from 'Hancocks Half Hour', and stealing the film completely - Kenneth Connor. All were well known faces, but none was a cinema star. That however, would soon change.

Interestingly enough, none of the players who would go on to be series mainstays (Connor, Williams, Jacques and Hawtrey) got high billing in this first outing. Although its fair to say that they all steal the show in whatever scenes they're in, especially Connor.

Overall this was a good solid start to the series, although compared to the later Carry Ons, very coy. The romance in the film between Bob Monkhouse and Shirley Eaton is something that we can do without and doesn't really add anything to the film. We want to see bumbling recruits and their exasperated Sgt, rather than Bob and Shirley's antics on their wedding night. Thankfully after this one, the romance aspects of Carry On was gradually phased out, and disappeared completely when Talbot Rothwell took over writing duties from Norman Hudis. However Hudis' script does contain more than enough 'awful' jokes that would typify the series.

However, at the time Army comedies were proving very popular with the Cinema-going public. The film made its money back within a few days on release so a sequel was inevitable, although nobody would have imagined 30 of them developing...

other information

Apparently William Hartnell was rather like his character off screen, and could regularly be heard barking at actors who fluffed their lines. Indeed, a visiting brigadier was highly complementary to Hartnell's drilling technique.

Kenneth Williams was paid just 800 for his role as James Bailey in Sergeant. This rose to 5,000 when Cruising started filming.

Location filing took place in the Queens Barracks in Guildford, Surrey.

Sergeant became the the third highest grossing film for 1958.

Kenneth Williams was up to his old tricks on the film. Whilst everyone's back was turned, he smeared the rope used in the assault course with butter. Leading to much exasperation from Bob Monkhouse.

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