Sgt. Bilko (1996)

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Released 24-Dec-2001

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated G
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 90:10
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jonathan Lynn

Universal Pictures Home Video
Starring Steve Martin
Dan Aykroyd
Phil Hartman
Glenne Headly
Daryl Mitchell
Austin Pendleton
Chris Rock
Catherine Silvers
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Alan Silvestri

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Auto Pan & Scan Encoded English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Sgt. Bilko was a TV series for several years. It starred Phil Silvers as a conniving sergeant who would do anything to make a dishonest buck.

    For some time now, Hollywood has been riding the nostalgia wave by remaking old TV series into movies. There have been some dreadful ones (you can probably name some of them...), and there have been some successes. I really enjoyed Charlie's Angels, for example. Here's another one, a qualified success, I'd say.

    We are introduced to Fort Baxter (a Research and Development base) as a transferring soldier arrives. He is Walter Holbrook (Daryl Mitchell - the English teacher from Ten Things I Hate About You, and a regular on Veronica's Closet), a mechanic. Naturally, he is assigned to the motor pool, but first he must see the colonel: Colonel John Hall (Dan Aykroyd - wasted in this role). The colonel is worried, because Holbrook has money, and he fears what will happen to the money in the motor pool - Holbrook does not understand. He arrives at the motor pool to meet Master Sergeant Ernie Bilko (Steve Martin), and finds a tug-of-war going on between a horse and Private Duane Doberman. Bilko is busily building up the bet on the outcome. Holbrook is taken aback. 

    A little later, Bilko tells a story of his past, in which he gets the better of a martinet called Lieutenant Colin Thorn (Phil Hartman), and Thorn is posted to Greenland. Naturally, the next thing you know, Major Thorn shows up in time for a disastrous demonstration of the hover tank being developed by Major Ebersole (Austin Pendleton, with a wide range of hang-dog expressions). Thorn is about to leave when he discovers that Bilko is on the base. Thorn is, understandably, out for revenge, so he calls in an audit team from the Inspector General's department. This audit team, Lt Oster (Chris Rock, playing it completely straight) and Lt Monday (Catherine Silvers - daughter of Phil Silvers - nice touch!), attempt to catch Bilko out, but his team do an awesome job of covering up - there are some fun sight gags in this sequence.

    Bilko has been engaged to Rita (Glenne Headly) for years, and has left her at the altar repeatedly. Thorn sees another avenue for revenge, and starts wooing Rita. 

    So there are all the elements of the story. Assemble them and you can picture the story fairly easily. It's not awfully original, but it's amusing.

    One final note: I take exception to the blurb on the back which refers to "...protecting our great nation" - this is an R4 disc, and the US is not part of R4.

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Transfer Quality


    The picture is presented in an aspect ratio of about 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. This is the theatrical aspect ratio. 

    The image is a little soft, but quite clear, with good shadow detail. There is no low level noise.

    Colour is excellent. It is strong and fully saturated. There's a moment of cross-colouration at 1:13, but it is momentary, and tiny - other than that there are no colour errors.

    There are some minor film artefacts: a speck or two, hardly visible. There is some aliasing, but surprisingly little, considering the plethora of hard edges to be seen around the barracks. There's some background shimmer, but no other MPEG artefacts. 

    Subtitles are provided in several languages, including English for the Hearing Impaired. The subtitles are attractive, easy to read, and well-timed.

    The disc is single-sided and single layered, meaning there is no layer change.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    There are two soundtracks, English Dolby Digital 5.1 and German Dolby Digital 2.0. I only listened to the English soundtrack.

    The dialogue is easy to understand and there are no audio sync problems.

    Alan Silvestri's score is not terribly original, but there's nothing wrong with it.

    The 5.1 soundtrack should support surrounds and subwoofer, but this soundtrack makes very little use of the surrounds, and no noticeable use of the subwoofer. Not a problem - there's no real need for them.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menus are silent and static.

Theatrical Trailer (1:59)

    A normal trailer, nothing exciting.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 disc has the same features as the Region 4 (including being a single layer disc), although it has a 5.0 soundtrack instead of a 5.1 (possibly explaining the inactivity of the sub). Sounds like a toss-up between the two, but the R1 retails for almost US$25, which is substantially more expensive than the R4.


    Sgt. Bilko is a passable film version of the TV series, presented well on R4 DVD.

    The video quality is quite good.

    The audio quality is good.

    The extra is minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, December 29, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDArcam DV88, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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Comments (Add)
Is This Cut? - Gizmo35 (The Biography ain't much to look at.)