The first of the Carry On
movies, 1958's Sergeant
is rather different from its successors, much more a film of its time (the latter days of National Service) and rather less a bawdy picture postcard. Sergeant Grimshaw (William Hartnell long before Doctor Who
) is about to retire and hopes that he can get his last platoon into shape as Champion Platoon of its intake. Unfortunately, the new recruits include the clumsy Golightly (Charles Hawtrey), the barrack-room lawyer Bailey (Kenneth Williams) and the hypochondriac Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor). Love interest is provided by Bob Monkhouse and Shirley Eaton--newlyweds separated by the call-up and reunited by her taking a job in the canteen--and by the pursuit of Horace by Dora Bryan's Nora. The film relies heavily on a mixture of slapstick and paradoxical revelations of character complexity--the obnoxious Bailey nonetheless takes the trouble to coach the incorrigibly dense Herbert (Norman Rossington); the series' later obsession with low comedy only really emerges in the scenes between Horace and the medic Captain Clark (Hattie Jacques). The platoon's eventual coming together as other than total incompetents is predictable, but likable.
On the DVD: The DVD has no frills whatever except for a widescreen picture and chapter selections; it has been cleaned up however so that we get a remarkably crisp mono picture and mono sound, which brings out the quality of the military-band score by Bruce Montgomery, who was also the writer Edmund Crispin. --Roz Kaveney
This farce, about a sergeant (William Hartnell) who takes a bet that the last recruits he trains will win the 'Star Squad' award, was the first in what was to become a long and popular series. Inept recruits include Bob Monkhouse, Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey and Kenneth Connor.