Sgt. Bilko

Sgt. Bilko is the updated film version of the popular 1960's television comedy by the same name. As in the original show, the lead character, Sgt. Ernie Bilko, is a world class liar, gambler and manipulator who instigates all the fun at Fort Baxter. As sergeant of the motor pool, he uses the Army and his position to front his creative money-making schemes. His platoon is composed of a loyal and fun-loving bunch of misfits who realize that being with Bilko is easier than being a civilian and also more profitable. When Bilko's old nemesis, Major Thorn, arrives at Fort Baxter, a battle of wits and mayhem begins. Thorn sets out to ruin Bilko as revenge for an old scheme that landed the humorless young Thorn in a cold and isolated Greenland outpost. This time around, the major hopes to reveal Bilko as the devious slacker he is. However, Thorn finds it hard to beat the master at his own game, especially on Bilko's home turf. Together with his motor pool, Ernie Bilko manages to fool Colonel Hall, Pentagon brass and, yet again, foil Major Thorn. He even gets the platoon a trip to Las Vegas, gambler's heaven.

  • Starring: Steve Martin, Dan Ackroyd and Phil Hartman
  • Director(s): Johnathan Lynn
  • Producer(s): Imagine Entertainment
  • Screenwriter(s): Nat Hiken, Andy Breckman
  • Distributor: Universal Pictures
  • Release Date: Tuesday, December 05, 1995
  • Rating: Acceptable

Featured Animal Action

SGT. BILKO Rating: Acceptable Sgt. Bilko is the updated film version of the popular 1960's television comedy by the same name. As in the original show, the lead character, Sgt. Ernie Bilko, is a world class liar, gambler and manipulator who instigates all the fun at Fort Baxter. As sergeant of the motor pool, he uses the Army and his position to front his creative money-making schemes. His platoon is composed of a loyal and fun-loving bunch of misfits who realize that being with Bilko is easier than being a civilian and also more profitable. When Bilko's old nemesis, Major Thorn, arrives at Fort Baxter, a battle of wits and mayhem begins. Thorn sets out to ruin Bilko as revenge for an old scheme that landed the humorless young Thorn in a cold and isolated Greenland outpost. This time around, the major hopes to reveal Bilko as the devious slacker he is. However, Thorn finds it hard to beat the master at his own game, especially on Bilko's home turf. Together with his motor pool, Ernie Bilko manages to fool Colonel Hall, Pentagon brass and, yet again, foil Major Thorn. He even gets the platoon a trip to Las Vegas, gambler's heaven. Animal Action: Early in the film we are introduced to Sgt. Bilko and his platoon as a money making scheme is in full swing. One of the platoon regulars, Private Doberman, made the mistake of saying that he was strong as a horse. Bilko immediately started placing bets on a tug of war contest between the very overweight Doberman and a real horse. We see the horse and man at either ends of a rope surrounded by the fans, as they pull each other back and forth until the horse finally wins. During the coarse of the contest, we see the animal in close up with the rope in it's mouth, curling his upper lip in a confrontational whinny, pawing the ground, rearing up, sliding toward his opponent and finally backing up for the win. The scene was shot in many cuts. The horse used was a trained rearing horse who responded to his trainer's verbal and visual commands. For movement both backward and forward rubber mats were placed on the floor to give the animal good traction. For the lip curl and shaking of his head, the horse responded to his trainer's commands. When the horse was presented the rope, he took it into his mouth naturally while the opposite end was held by a second trainer. The horse's trainer was in costume and with the horse throughout the shooting of the scene.. When we see the close up of the horse's front hooves sliding forward, it was a set of dummy horse legs that was used. Later in the day, Bilko still has the horse in the motor pool area when the Colonel comes to inspect things. In a panic, they must find a way to hide the horse. We next see the Colonel and Bilko talking in the motor pool garage area with the horse in the background, suspended near the ceiling by a body harness. Once the Colonel leaves, the horse is lowered to the ground by a hydraulic lift. For this scene, a special harness was constructed for the horse. Trainers were present at all times during filming and stationed at both the front and back of the horse with a professional lift operator controlling the speed and steadiness of the hydraulic lift. The harness was made of canvas and nylon and fitted under the horse's belly and up through the front legs and around the breast area. Trainers held onto stabilizing lines from both the head and tail areas to prevent the animal from accidentally turning or spinning. A safety hook was attached to the center of the harness and the horse was lifted very slowly to a height of fifteen feet. He remained very relaxed throughout, having been slowly prepped in pre-production to get accustomed to the lift. The lift could accommodate over six thousand pounds and the horse and harness weighed only twelve hundred. The horse remained suspended for no more than five minutes at a time and was rested between takes. For the tedious process of blocking the scene prior to actual filming, a dummy horse was used. When the horse was seen being lowered, the lift moved slowly and stopped when the horse was close to the ground. The camera cut away and we next see the horse stable and standing on the ground. Since this was shot in cuts, it enabled the horse to be lowered gently and given the time to regain his footing without slipping or scrambling. Trainers remained with the horse at all times. In a later sequence, the characters from the motor pool are seen on a lawn holding three greyhound dogs on leashes while they take bets on what we are led to believe will be a dog race. Several scenes later, Bilko is talking with Major Thorn and we see the dogs run across the screen as they race on the road in the background. For this scene, trainers released the dogs to chase a mechanical rabbit and they ran from point A to point B with trainers waiting at the end of the run. During the run, one of the dogs fell on her own and cut her shoulder. She was down for approximately two to three seconds before jumping up and continuing to run. This was an accidental fall that appeared to have nothing to do with the staging of the scene.