Before he played the Sheriff without a gun Andy Taylor in what is likely the greatest TV comedy of all-time, The Andy Griffith Show, Andy Griffith started his wonderful career out with a little-known comedy called No Time for Sergeants. While it's not that well-known today, the film helped make Andy Griffith more popular, which led to his role in the acclaimed show I mentioned. As for the film, I can clearly see why Andy was so excellent in his roles.
In the film, Andy Griffith plays Will Stockdale, a Southern American farmer who's been drafted to serve in the Air Force. Despite being dragged to the base in handcuffs (due to his father hiding the draft notices), Stockdale is excited about serving his country, but his lack of knowledge of the military in general brings him to the subject of ridicule. But Stockdale, despite this, still intends to make things right, but he unintentionally keeps annoying his fellow army men.
The film also features Nick Adams as Stockdale's army pal Ben, who longs to join the infantry, Murray Hamilton as Private Irwin, who, according to Stockdale, is suffering from a "disease" called ROTC, Myron McCormick as the annoyed Sergeant King, and in his big-screen debut, Don Knotts makes a one-scene appearance as a coordination officer.
The story started out as a famous novel which was then made into a TV movie also starring Griffith, which would then be made into a Broadway play. Either way you see it, the film version of No Time for Sergeants is a very funny comedy.
Now I was a little skeptical of the film first cause it takes its time for it to develop. The opening scene with Griffith being recruited I felt was a little stereotypical when it comes to depictions of Southerners and there just wasn't much comedy in this scene. But once we go into the barracks, then the film becomes a truly funny masterpiece. Tons of comedic sequences are put in this film, and they're very funny, which is funny cause the film was directed by Mervyn LeRoy, who was best known for directing dramas like I Am a Fugitive From a Chain Gang. But, the great thing is, the comedy is truly funny comedy.
Who makes the film the funny film it is? Well, the answer is easily Andy Griffith. Like his role as Andy Taylor in the already mentioned masterpiece show he starred in for eight years, Griffith could have made his Southern drawl comedic approach a little goofy and silly, but what he does is take the drawl, make it into an form of innocence, and creates a dumb but truly funny character. He also can move people in terms of American pride, especially in a scene where Griffith compliments a trumpeter playing "Taps". As for the comedy, Griffith leads into some very hilarious moments in the film, such as a scene where he becomes the "Public Latrine Officer", a sequence involving Don Knotts (who, just like he would steal the show as Barney Fife in The Andy Griffith Show, would steal his one scene here), a sequence involving a psychiatrist, and the ending involving his supposed death. Nick Adams also had some memorable moments as Griffith's army buddy, and while it might have been funnier had Don Knotts done the role, Adams was still funny in the role just the same. Myron McCormick is also funny as the annoyed Sergeant King, particularly in his facial expressions.
No, it will never outdo The Andy Griffith Show, but for his first film appearance, Andy Griffith provides that sense of innocence and simple country humor that makes No Time for Sergeants a funny film. If you loved The Andy Griffith Show, then you would enjoy this film as well.