DirectorGerald Thomas Film seriesCarry On Duration LanguageEnglish
Release dateAugust 1958 WriterR.F. Delderfield (by), Norman Hudis (screenplay), John Antrobus (additional material) CastWilliam Hartnell (Sergeant Grimshawe), Shirley Eaton (Mary Sage), Eric Barker (Captain Potts), Dora Bryan (Norah), Bill Owen (Corporal Bill Copping), Charles Hawtrey (Peter Golightly) Similar moviesFull Metal Jacket, Stripes, M*A*S*H, The Thin Red Line, Battle: Los Angeles, Empire of the Sun
TaglineIt's all about a Dad . . . a Draftee . . . and a Detonation heard round the camp!
Carry on sergeant uk trailer
Carry On Sergeant is a 1958 comedy film about National Service starring William Hartnell, Bob Monkhouse and Eric Barker; it is the first in the series of Carry On films, with 31 entries. The film was based on a play The Bull Boys by R. F. Delderfield and was adapted into a script by Norman Hudis with John Antrobus contributing additional material and replacing the conscripted ballet dancers of the novel into a married couple. It was directed by Gerald Thomas and produced by Peter Rogers, a partnership which would last until 1978. Actors in this film, who went on to be part of the regular team in the series, were Kenneth Williams, Charles Hawtrey, Hattie Jacques, Kenneth Connor and Terry Scott. The first public screening was on 1 August 1958 at Screen One, in London and it went on general cinema release across British cinemas on 15 August 1958. The soundtrack music was played by the Band of the Coldstream Guards, conducted by the composer.
Carry On Sergeant had not been conceived as the start of a film series; only after the film's surprising success did the producer Peter Rogers and the director Gerald Thomas set about planning a further project. After reusing the Carry On prefix and some cast members in their next project Carry On Nurse (1959) and having success with that film, the Carry On series of films evolved.
Newly married Mary Sage (Shirley Eaton) is distraught when her husband Charlie (Bob Monkhouse) receives his call-up papers during their wedding breakfast. He travels to Heathercrest National Service Depot, meeting fellow recruit Horace Strong (Kenneth Connor), a terminal hypochondriac who is devastated at having been passed as fit.
The new recruits are assigned to Sergeant Grimshaw (William Hartnell). Grimshaw is retiring from the army and takes on a £50 bet with Sergeant O'Brien (Terry Scott) that his last bunch of squaddies will be his first champion platoon.
With beady-eyed inspection from Captain Potts (Eric Barker) and disgruntled support from Corporal Copping (Bill Owen), Grimshaw decides to use some psychology and treat his charges kindly rather than simply shouting at them. But basic training does not start well and he struggles to take his platoon through it. They include failure Herbert Brown (Norman Rossington), upper-class cad Miles Heywood (Terence Longdon), rock 'n' roller Andy Galloway (Gerald Campion), delicate flower Peter Golightly (Charles Hawtrey) and supercilious university graduate James Bailey (Kenneth Williams). His attempts seem doomed.
Mary is determined to spend her wedding night with her husband and smuggles herself into the depot to get a job in the NAAFI, a situation Charlie is eventually able to legitimise. Strong spends most of his time complaining to the Medical Officer, Captain Clark (Hattie Jacques). It is only the adoration of doe-eyed NAAFI girl Norah (Dora Bryan), which he initially rejects, that makes him realise his potential and inspires him to become a real soldier.
On the eve of the final tests, Grimshaw is in despair, but he is overheard bemoaning his lot to Copping. The squad decide to win the best platoon prize at all costs. On the day, they indeed beat the other platoons at all tasks and Grimshaw is awarded the cup for best platoon.
William Hartnell as Sergeant Grimshaw
Bob Monkhouse as Charlie Sage
Shirley Eaton as Mary Sage
Bill Owen as Corporal Copping
Charles Hawtrey as Peter Golightly
Kenneth Connor as Horace Strong
Kenneth Williams as James Bailey
Terence Longdon as Miles Heywood
Norman Rossington as Herbert Brown
Gerald Campion as Andy Galloway
Hattie Jacques as Captain Clark, R.A.M.C.
Eric Barker as Captain Potts
Dora Bryan as Norah
Terry Scott as Sergeant Paddy O'Brien
John Mathews as Sergeant Matthews
Ed Devereaux as Sergeant Russell
Cyril Chamberlain as Bren Gun instructor
Leigh Madison as Sheila
Martin Wyldeck as Mr Sage (uncredited)
Helen Goss as Mary's mother (uncredited)
"Carry on, Sergeant" is a normal expression for an Army officer to use; the American equivalent is, "As you were." The title that replaced The Bull Boys was suggested by Stuart Levy to cash in on the popularity of the 1957 film Carry on Admiral, which was written by Val Guest. At the time, the success of Carry On Sergeant prompted applause and audience laughter in serious settings where the phrase was used, including amongst audiences of the film The Devil's Disciple (1959).
Budget – £73,000 (estimated)
Gross – £500,000 (UK)
Modern Budget Equivalent: £1,573,126.06
Modern Gross Equivalent: £10,774,836.00
The film was the third most successful movie at the British box office in 1958.
Filming and locations
Filming dates – 24 March 1958 – 2 May 1958
Stage B, Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire
Army camp: Cardwell's Keep, Stoughton Barracks, Stoughton Road, Stoughton near Guildford, Surrey
Wedding scene: St Mary's Church of England, Church Hill, Harefield, Middlesex