Picks and Pans Review: Sgt. Bilko
Short of resurrecting Phil Silvers, little could have been done to save this miscast retread of CBS's classic series You'll Never Get Rich (later retitled The Phil Silvers Show), which ran from 1955 to 1959. A loud, abrasive borscht-belt-trained comic, Silvers created the ultimate con man in Bilko, a platoon sergeant who used his unit to run all manner of scams. For all his manifold talents, Martin is simply the wrong man for the role.
Hampered by a lackluster script, Martin falls back on his subtle, ironic style and turns the blustermeister into little more than a harmless scamp with none of the requisite edge. The funniest scene involves a boxing match in which both fighters, having been independently bribed by Bilko, try simultaneously to throw the fight. The rest of the time Martin is bogged down in a tiresome romantic subplot that matches him with the wan Headly as his long-suffering fiancée. Aykroyd, who probably could have rendered a weightier Bilko, plays the dense base commander, while the artful Hartman is a major with a grudge.
The trend of recycling old TV comedies into clumsily cast movies has clearly proved itself barren. That, however, is no guarantee that we won't have to suffer through Rosie O'Donnell in My Little Margie, Happy Days with Brad Pitt as the Fonz or The Andy Griffith Show with Keanu Reeves as the sheriff. (PG)
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