PHIL SILVERS SHOW, THE {AKA "YOU'LL NEVER BE RICH;" AKA "SGT. BILKO"}: THE COURT MARTIAL (TV)

Summary

One in this series of comedies starring Phil Silvers as Sgt. Ernie Bilko, a fast-talking confidence man stationed at Fort Baxter in Kansas. Fort Baxter is chosen as the reception center for a major recruitment drive, and the top officials hope to streamline the process of induction for the purposes of a greater quantity of new recruits. An important general is coming later to inspect the place, and Colonel Hall is especially sardonic about Bilko’s presence. Bilko is responsible for processing a dozen incoming recruits, but unbeknownst to him one of them has snuck a trained roller-skating chimpanzee onto the base. The chimpanzee breaks loose and Bilko and his recruits struggle to hide him as the general arrives with Colonel Hall. They manage to conceal the chimpanzee; the incoming recruit who brought him in, Charlie, explains that the chimpanzee is part of his vaudeville act. The men try to conceal the chimp long enough for Charlie to meet with his brother and get the chimpanzee off the base. However, the recruits are called away for processing and the chimpanzee follows them and is accidentally waived through the expedited processing, given the name “Harry Speakup.” Bilko desperately tries to alert his superiors about the presence of the chimpanzee before it is discovered. However, Colonel Hall refuses to listen to him or stop the processing. Somehow the army officials in charge of the processing fail to recognize the chimpanzee as he passes various inspections. When no one listens to him, Bilko once again attempts to conceal the chimpanzee in order to prevent an investigation, falsifying “Harry’s” intelligence test. Finally Bilko manages to get through to Colonel Hall, but it is too late and the men are sworn in, including the chimpanzee. Colonel Hall is beside himself, believing that he will be discharged over the incident. Bilko is forced to tell the other officers and the visiting general about the chimpanzee, and the general puts the base on lockdown until the matter is straightened out. However, the recruit’s records have already been sent to the Pentagon, and to alter them now would cause a high-level investigation. They seek a legal reason to discharge “Harry,” and get their chance when they learn that he bit a sergeant’s finger, giving them enough cause to hold a court martial. Bilko is at risk of being blamed for the whole thing and the general appoints him as the chimpanzee’s defense counsel. The court martial begins and the officer the chimpanzee bit, Master Sergeant Sowici, testifies that the chimpanzee bit him. The general tries to swiftly end the court martial but Bilko drags it out by cross-examining Sowici, pointing out that he grabbed the chimpanzee first, and thus the bite was in self-defense. However, Charlie is caught and Bilko denies ever meeting him; the court discovers that Bilko ordered him off the base and thus Bilko is put on trial for facilitating him going AWOL. However, Bilko manages to save the day by making a hardship case for the chimpanzee, arguing along with Charlie that him entering the army would break up the vaudeville act and thus negate the sole financial support for Charlie and his family. The chimpanzee is discharged and the general orders all present to keep the matter a secret for the foreseeable future. Commercials deleted.


Details

  • NETWORK: CBS
  • DATE: March 6, 1956 8:00 PM
  • RUNNING TIME: 0:25:47
  • COLOR/B&W: B&W
  • CATALOG ID: B:51534
  • GENRE: Comedy
  • SUBJECT HEADING: Comedy
  • SERIES RUN: CBS - TV series, 1955-1959
  • COMMERCIALS:

Credits

  • Nat Hiken … Producer, Created by, Writer
  • Al DeCaprio … Director
  • Coleman Jacoby … Writer
  • Arnie Rosen … Writer
  • Phil Silvers … Cast, M/Sgt. Ernest Bilko
  • Harvey Lembeck … Cast, Corporal Barbella
  • Paul Ford … Cast, Colonel Hall
  • Allan Melvin … Cast, Corporal Henshaw
  • John Boruff … Cast, General Rogers
  • Nicholas Saunders … Cast, Captain Barker
  • Joey Faye … Cast, Charlie Chapman