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Carry On Sergeant (1959, Charles Hawtrey, Kenneth Williams)

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The first of the Carry On movies was inspired by R.F. Delderfield’s novel The Bull Boys and on a budget of just £73,000 managed to bring back a very healthy gross of around £500,000.

William Hartnell plays Sergeant Grimshawe, the retiring army training sergeant who is faced with possibly the worst group of national service recruits ever to have been called up, including Charlie Sage (Bob Monkhouse), Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor), Peter Golightly (Charles Hawtrey) and James Bailey (Kenneth Williams). Determined to prove that he is more capable than the authorities think, Grimshawe agrees to a bet that means he has to turn his bunch of determined losers into one of the best platoons in the British army. The narrative of the movie follows his attempts to make a silk purse of a sow’s ear as the hapless recruits fall in love, learn to work with each other and discover a sense of responsibility.

Says Variety: ‘A bunch of talented character comedians have been handed these situations and, in their respective styles, they wring a lot more out of them and the dialog than the writers provide.’ Thus began one of the most enduringly popular and financially successful series of films in British cinematic history.

production details
UK / Anglo Amalgamated / 84 minutes / 1959

Director: Gerald Thomas
Writer: Norman Hudis

cast
Charles Hawtrey as Peter Golightly
Kenneth Williams as James Bailey
Dora Bryan as Norah
Cyril Chamberlain as Gun Sergeant
Hattie Jacques as Captain Clark
Eric Barker as Captain Potts
Kenneth Connor as Horace Strong
Arnold Diamond as Fifth Specialist
William Hartnell as Sergeant Grimshawe
Ed Devereaux as Sgt. Russell
Bill Owen as Corporal Bill Copping
Terence Longdon as Miles Heywood
Terry Scott as Sgt Paddy O’Brien
Shirley Eaton as Mary Sage
Edward Judd as Fifth Storesman
Bob Monkhouse as Charlie Sage
Norman Rossington as Herbert Brown
Gerald Campion as Andy Calloway
Gordon Tanner as First Specialist
Bernard Kay as Injured Recruit
Jack Smethurst as First Recruit

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