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Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show-50th Anniversary Edition

4.6 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description



"Goldbricker." Now there's a term you don't hear much anymore. But that's what Ed Sullivan called Sgt. Ernest G. Bilko back in the 1950s, and it's as apt a term as any for Phil Silvers' immortal comic creation. Hustler, gambler, scam artist, and con man also apply, but anyway you slice it, Bilko is inarguably one of the greatest characters to emerge in television's so-called Golden Age, and this three-disc 50th Anniversary Edition, cherry picking episodes from all four seasons (it ran from '55-'59), is a beautiful thing. Created by Nat Hiken and originally called "You'll Never Get Rich," The Phil Silvers Show is classic situation comedy. There's no character arc, no lessons learned, no sentimental denouement; just laughs, and plenty of 'em. The typical episode finds Bilko on the make--usually, though not exclusively, for money--and generally ends with him holding the short end of his own shtick. (They don't all follow the formula; a hilarious exception is "The Court Martial," in which Bilko is ordered to defend a chimpanzee that the Army has somehow managed to enlist and is now trying to expel.) Silvers, a master at both verbal and physical comedy, is the focal point, of course. But the ensemble work, featuring Bilko's usual stooges from the Fort Baxter motor pool (Barbella, Doberman, Paparelli), his favorite victims (cf. Col. Hall), and occasional guest stars (episodes with Fred Gwynne, Alan Alda, and Dick Van Dyke are included in this set), is uniformly brilliant, the acting is seemingly effortless, and the pleasure they take in their work is palpable. Bottom line: these shows may have been produced 50 years ago, but the jillions of TV comedies that followed have never improved on them. Among the many quality bonus features are a full-length "lost audition show" (recorded on kinescope), appearances by Silvers on Ed Sullivan and Dick Cavett's programs, audio commentary on some episodes, and more. Some fans will undoubtedly quibble with the episode selection; with only 18 of the more than 140 produced shows included here, it's inevitable that a few favorites didn't make the cut. Still, until (or unless) Paramount gets around to releasing each individual season, this set is a must-have. --Sam Graham

Special Features

  • 18 remastered black-and-white episodes from 1955-1959
  • Commentary by Dick Van Dyke, George Kennedy, Allan Melvin (Cpl. Henshaw), Larry Storch, and Mickey Freeman (Pvt. Zimmerman)
  • Lost audition show
  • Original opening titles
  • Nick@Nite promo taping for the movie with Dan Aykroyd and Phil Hartman
  • Phil Hartman Nick@Nite episode intros
  • Tony Randall and Jack Klugman remember Sgt. Bilko on TV Land
  • Special guest appearances by Phil Silvers on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Dick Cavett Show, and by the cast on Phil Silvers on Broadway
  • Emmy Award highlights
  • Allan Melvin (Cpl. Henshaw) episode introductions
  • The Bilko Growl (audio only)
  • Friars stag roast for Humphrey Bogart (audio only)

Product Details

  • Actors: Phil Silvers, Harvey Lembeck, Paul Ford, Allan Melvin, Billy Sands
  • Writers: Nat Hiken
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Black & White, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Paramount
  • DVD Release Date: May 9, 2006
  • Run Time: 465 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EBGE9G
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,637 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Sgt. Bilko: The Phil Silvers Show-50th Anniversary Edition" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By joseph Corey on February 6, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This should have been the first season of Sgt. Bilko (not the Steve Martin movie) show starring Phil Silvers. But the folks at Paramount got cold feet about releasing Bilko with season sets. So what we're left with as an introduction is a sampler of 21 episodes from the four seasons (there were 142 episodes made). Seeing how you rarely catch Phil Silvers on TV anymore, it's still important to have in the collection next to the Hogan's Heroes boxsets. Although you could also put this next to the Beach Party films since it features that man who would go on to become Eric Von Zipper. And don't forget Phil's animated tribute "Top Cat."

the bonus elements do have me excited.
Ed Sullivan Show (scene from episode on show a week before premiere of series)
Emmy Awards (some of them, not all - 56/57) acceptance speeches
Dick Cavet Show with Jack Benny
Promos for Sgt Bilko movie on Nick @ Night
Phil Hartman does his intros for Nick @ Night
Friar's Stag Roast for Humphry Bogart (by Phil Silvers)
Commentary from Allan Melvin (Henshaw)
Episode intros by Allan Melvin
Commentary by Dick Van Dyke
Commentary George Kennedy (army technical advisor)
2 Commentary tracks with Larry Storch (guest star) and Mickey Freeman (Zimmerman) together
Tony Randall and Jack Klugman remember Bilko on TV land promo
Original Network Opening (Camel cigarettes presents), as well as cigarette commercials with cast
Cast on Phil Silvers special "Phil Silvers on Broadway"
Promo for "The New Phil Silvers Show"
Phil's final TV interview with Sonny Fox
Bilko Growl - Phil's last record (single song)
Lost Bilko audition film
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Format: DVD
I guess if you're a fan of old black & white TV shows you're gonna have to go through this, but "You'll Never Get Rich" was one of the biggest TV hits of the 50s, every bit as big as "the Honeymooners" or "I Love Lucy", but the owners of the show (I guess that's CBS video) don't feel secure in offering a complete run without first putting out this sampler to see how Sgt. Bilko will sell.

I think as far as it goes, it's a great set; but even as a sampler there aren't enough episodes--only 18. The selections are uniformly good--every show on here is a gem, but I think there should have been at least 30-36 programs offered in this, as a "best of" set.

The extras are also neat. My biggest complaint is that my two all time favorite episodes ain't here: the one with THE BEAST, featuring the famous HARVEY from the Honeymooners as a brash bully who comes new to Ft. Baxter and pushes his way into Bilko's enterprises; and the episode where Col. Hall hires a professional card shark to masquerade as an ordinary soldier and beat Bilko at his own game (with hilarious consequences). Hopefully these will be in the next "sample" set, or, better yet, CBS will com e out with a complete season-by-season Bilko.

In the mean time, this is the best we have and it ain't bad. I would also encourage all Bilko fans to buy it as this may show CBS that a complete Bilko would be a profitable offering. The idea that F-Troop, an amusing show, but a second-rate knock-off of Bilko, is being offered complete, but Bilko ain't, is a travesty.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In one of those good news-bad news scenarios, the real Sergeant Bilko - the original Phil Silvers Show - has finally made it onto DVD in time for its 50th anniversary, but Paramount have definitely erred on the side of caution with the treatment.

Not that Sergeant Bilko - The Phil Silvers Show 50th Anniversary Edition isn't a good presentation: it is, with more extras than you could realistically expect from a show this old, including the unseen 33-minute pilot episode when the show was still going to be called You'll Never Get Rich, vintage interviews, audio commentaries (including one by George Kennedy, who began his screen career as the army's advisor and sometime extra on the show) and much, much more. But rather than opting for a season-by-season release, Paramount have gone for a 'Best of' three-disc set. With a show as strong as Bilko, that ensures that a lot of great episodes are missing (including one of the greatest, The Empty Store, as well as Mardi Gras, Hollywood, The Rest Cure, Bilko and the Beast, The Song of the Motor Pool and Bilko's Perfect Day), and, even worse, it also means that this is probably all we'll ever get. And boycotting this release will only drive sales figures down even further until the chance of a full release is even more remote.

It's a good overview of the show from first to last episode, and some of the episdes are 100%-proof classics, like The Twitch (where Bilko runs a nationwide book on how many times a lecturer brought in to stop the men from gambling will compulsively twitch), The Court Martial (the one where a chimp on rollerskates is inducted into the army as Private Harry Speakup, coming third in the intelligence test in the process!) and The Eating Contest. But it just ain't nearly enough for a show with such a consistent standard of great writing, outrageously anarchic satire and some brilliant improvisation from Phil Silvers... More, please, and soon - that's an order!
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Format: DVD
The early 1950's saw a lot of great comedy TV shows (besides Lucy) that really had audiences begging for more. As my family laughed and applauded the antics of Joan Davis, Jackie Gleason, Phil Silvers and others, I always looked on in wonderment. That's all a toddler can do: enjoy the opening title theme music, and then watch the show, understanding none of it and not getting a single joke.

A lot of these shows are on DVD now and I'm getting a chance to go back and see what all the fun was about. Watching the Phil Silvers Show, I now realize what I was missing. This show rox!

Dear Paramount/CBS video, Your 3-disc set of Sgt. Bilko is great; the sound and picture are superb and the extras are fun Fun FUN! So THIS is the kind of great quality film you have languishing in your vaults? And you're just letting it SIT there? For shame! I promise you, if you release all the shows in boxed sets, one season at a time, I won't be able to order them FAST enough. And believe me, I'm not the only one who feels that way!
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