Sgt. Bilko

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Sgt. Bilko
Sgt bilko poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jonathan Lynn
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Nat Hiken (premise)
Andy Breckman (screenplay)
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Peter Sova
Edited by Tony Lombardo
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date
  • March 29, 1996 (1996-03-29)
Running time
94 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $39 million
Box office $37,956,793

Sgt. Bilko is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Jonathan Lynn and written by Andy Breckman. It is an adaptation of the iconic 1950s television series The Phil Silvers Show, often informally called Sgt. Bilko, or simply Bilko, and stars Steve Martin, Dan Aykroyd, and Phil Hartman.


Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko is in charge of the motor pool at Fort Baxter, a small United States Army base that develops new military technology. Exploiting this position, he directs a number of scams, ranging from gambling to renting out military vehicles. His commanding officer, Colonel John Hall, overlooks Bilko's money-making schemes, as he is more concerned with problems in the hovertank that the base is designing.

Major Colin Thorn, an officer from the U.S. Army Inspector General's office, arrives at the camp and begins to scrutinize Bilko's record. Officially, Thorn is at Fort Baxter to conduct a general inspection and determine if the base should remain open in light of recent defense cutbacks. He is also determined to get revenge on Bilko to settle an old score the two have from Fort Dix, where Thorn was nearly court-martialed after a fixed boxing match resulted in Thorn being shipped to Greenland.

Bitter and unprincipled, Thorn is not above breaking the law to ruin Bilko. He attempts to steal Bilko's long-time fiancée Rita, whom Bilko has stood up at the altar more than a dozen times. Rita is tired of waiting and gives Bilko 30 days to win her back or lose her for good.

Bilko, with the help of newly assigned Private First Class Wally Holbrook, devises a means of avoiding Thorn's attempt to transfer him to Greenland: He rigs a demonstration of the base's malfunctioning hovertank, staged before a four-star general and numerous dignitaries. Since Thorn had deliberately tried to sabotage the tank the previous night, he confronts Bilko, Hall, and the general, loudly insulting Bilko and Hall. While ranting, he confesses to sabotaging the hovertank. Thorn is sent off again to Greenland.

The last day of Rita's ultimatum has come. Just as she sadly begins to write Bilko off forever, Rita hears men outside her house, serenading her with one of Bilko and her favorite songs. Looking out, she sees Bilko and his platoon. Bilko asks Rita to marry him, and she accepts.



Both Albert Brooks and Michael Keaton turned down the role of Bilko, and Robin Williams and Billy Crystal expressed interest in it before the role finally went to Martin.[1]


The film received mixed to negative reviews from critics,[2][3][4] and has a 'rotten' rating of 32% at review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.[5] It also failed at the box office.


  1. ^ "IMDB". 
  2. ^ Turan, Kenneth (1996-03-29). "Striving for 'Sgt.' Stripes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  3. ^ Maslin, Janet (1996-03-29). "FILM REVIEW;Bilko With a Sneaky 90's Glee". The New York Times. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  4. ^ Shulgasser, Barbara (1996-03-29). "Sgt. Bilko' update flops". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-05-31. 
  5. ^ Sgt. Bilko at Rotten Tomatoes

External links[edit]