Sgt. Bilko

1996 film directed by Jonathan Lynn

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

Listen, that M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle is property of the United States Army; I want it back on the post by tonight! We have rules! Rules and regulations! I have your rental agreement right here. And if you blow anything up, it's coming out of your deposit! Teenagers. So irresponsible!
It's a new Army, Major. We're all adjusting.

Master Sergeant Ernest G. Bilko

  • [On the phone] Listen, that M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle is property of the United States Army; I want it back on the post by tonight! We have rules! Rules and regulations! [Turns to light a match on a sign that says "NO SMOKING", then lights a cigarette] I have your rental agreement right here. And if you blow anything up, it's coming out of your deposit! [Hangs up and sighs irritably] Teenagers. So irresponsible!

Colonel John T. Hall

  • [talking to Major Thorn over alleged anomalies in Bilko's platoon] You know, for all the differences I've had with Bilko over the years, I have to admit- I've always kind of liked him. The way he kept up the men's morale; the way he'd pretend to cry, when I went on leave. The way- every year, on my birthday- he'd have the men mow my name on the main lawn, with a big heart around it.


[Bilko sees Holbrook sitting up in bed with a piece of paper]
MSG Ernest Bilko: What's the matter with you? You were full of energy at 6AM.
PFC Wally Holbrook: I don't think the guys like me.
Bilko: Well, what makes you say that?
Holbrook: They wrote me a note. "Wally, we don't like you." And they all signed it.
Bilko: [Looks at the note] Yep, that's Doberman's X.
Holbrook: Speaking of Doberman, can I please have another roommate?
Bilko: Why, what's wrong with Doberman?
Wally: He wet his bed!
Bilko: Oh, well, once in a while...
Holbrook: No, he did it from across the room.

[Major Thorn is preparing to take a helicopter back off Fort Baxter after witnessing the hovertank fail a firing test; Colonel Hall and Captain Moon are trying to dissuade him.]
COL John Hall: Major, let me be frank. A negative report from you at this time would be the death knell for Fort Baxter. See, we've been in sort of a slump lately, and I-
MAJ Colin Thorn: Nine years without a single successful test? That's not a slump, Colonel, that's a tradition!
Hall: Look, Major- think for a minute. About the men; their careers! My career.
Thorn: Look, Colonel, you play the hand you're dealt. This isn't exactly the career I had in mind when I got out of OCS; shining a seat with my ass in D.C., visiting every dumpy little post- I thought I'd be a colonel by now, or maybe even a general. Sorry, Colonel; what I saw this morning was a dust cloud that cost $70 million. Good morning.
Hall: Ah, wait! You know, there's more to Fort Baxter than just R&D, Major. We have an award-winning, Hooah commissary!
CPT Moon: Try the chicken casserole!
Hall: And our softball team won the division title last year; Sergeant Bilko's platoon is in the Glee Club finals!
Thorn: [Visibly bored] I'll certainly keep that in mind. [boards the helicopter and an aircrewman shuts the door. His eyes open wide and he opens the door, calling out to Hall] Did you say Bilko?!
Hall: Yes...?
Thorn: Is that Ernie Bilko?!
Hall: One and the same!
Thorn: [Gets back out of the helicopter] Maybe I will stay for lunch!
Hall: Hoo-ah, light up that chicken casserole, Captain Moon!
Moon: Yes sir!

[Bilko and Henshaw are playing golf in the middle of the base, and try to bet on where the ball will land]
MSG Bilko: $20 says I can hit the parking lot.
PFC Wally Holbrook: I don't gamble.
Bilko: What is it you do?
Holbrook: Permission to speak -
Bilko: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Go ahead.
Holbrook: I get up every morning and I get dressed to protect the American way of life.
Bilko: Would you tell me that later tonight so I don't have to take a sleeping pill?

[Colonel Hall and Major Thorn are holding a surprise inspection of the Ft Baxter Bravo Company Motor Transport Maintenance Platoon barracks; they have switched signs with the nearby Alpha Company Tracked Vehicle Ordnance Platoon's barracks to avoid having their messy rooms and barracks discovered. In the room SGT Henshaw is claiming as his, MAJ Thorn finds a pink bra and high heels.]
MAJ Thorn: [Holding the high heels and bra up] Are these yours?
SGT Henshaw: [looks ahead] It is my understanding that you can no longer ask me these questions, sir.
COL Hall: [Shrugs] It's a new Army, Major. We're all adjusting.

[Bilko and Wally are visiting MAJ Ebersole's facility, where the experimental hover tank is being kept]
MAJ Ebersole: No, it'll hover. But as before, it will go completely haywire if we attempt to [remembers earlier test] - fire the cannon.
MSG Bilko: We know that. We just need a couple of hours with it. [to Wally] Let's get started.
Ebersole: Wait, wait! This is a $70-million piece of equipment! You think I'm gonna just let one of your men mess around with it? I think not.
Bilko: [Unconcerned] Mm. Hmm. [Takes out a few pieces of paper, and starts patting his forehead with them] Oh, boy- is it hot in here or what? Oh, wait, what's this? It's the IOU's from the poker game!
Ebersole: Would you like to use my tools? [Bilko tears the papers]

[Bilko has rigged a demonstration of the HTX-1 Hovertank, showing it off to members of Congress, various dignitaries, and an Army general and his staff. MAJ Thorn notices the rigged demonstration and gets up to say something to General Tennyson.]
MAJ Thorn: Wait! The demonstration was rigged!
MSG Bilko: [Hurrying Tennyson away from Thorn] Ah! Do I see politics in your future, sir? Perhaps a run at the Oval Office?
GEN Tennyson: You know, I've never really given that serious consideration-
Thorn: [Catching up with them] Wait! General, he faked it! Didn't you see? The gun was aimed at Target Three, but they blew up Target Four!
Tennyson: Yes, I did.
Bilko: Well, you remember Einstein's theory, sir- space is curved?
Tennyson: Yes.
Bilko: And these are smart weapons. Whoosh! [Makes cutting motions with his hand, indicating the shot changed course.]
Thorn: Oh, cut the crap! He faked it! It's just another one of his scams!
Tennyson: That's a serious charge. Colonel, what about this?
COL Hall: Well, General, I must tell you, in all my years in the service, I have never- not once- publicly berated a fellow officer. But I realize now, from the very first moment Major Thorn set foot on Fort Baxter, he engaged in a personal vendetta against Master Sergeant Bilko. I find his conduct inexcusable, and [walks towards Thorn] I'm going to recommend an Article 32 investigation.
Tennyson: I see.
Thorn: You don't understand. He doesn't know what's going on, he never knows what's going on! This sergeant leads him around by the nose!
Tennyson: [Shocked] Major! You are the most insubordinate officer I have ever met!
MAJ Thorn: I'm telling you... [Grabs Hall] he's a BOOB! He doesn't get it! They faked the whole thing!
Tennyson: I'd like to see just [pinches fingers] one piece of solid evidence, to support these idiotic allegations!
Thorn: Idiotic. How's this for evidence?! [Pulls a part of the tank's electronics out of his pocket] The Fire Control and Super Elevator Board! I took it out last night; so how can it work?! [Tennyson and the rest of the crowd are stunned at Thorn's admission; embarrassed, Thorn tries to hide the board]
Hall: So you deliberately sabotaged this project, Major.
Bilko: [Producing a tape recorder] I got it all on tape. Lucky!


  • Steve Martin - MSgt. Ernest "Ernie" Bilko, USA
  • Phil Hartman — Major Colin Thorn, USA
  • Dan Aykroyd - Col. John T. Hall, USA
  • Glenne Headly - Rita Robbins
  • John Marshall Jones - Sgt. Henshaw
  • Pamela Adlon - Sgt. Raquel Barbella
  • Austin Pendleton - Maj. Ebersole
  • Chris Rock - 1st Lt. Oster
  • Cathy Silvers - 1st Lt. Monday
  • Steve Park - Capt. Moon
  • Debra Jo Rupp - Mrs. Hall
  • Richard Herd - Gen. Tennyson
  • Dan Ferro - Spc. Tony Morales
  • John Ortiz - Spc. Luis Clemente
  • Max Casella - Spc. Dino Paparelli
  • Daryl Mitchell - Pfc. Walter "Wally" T. Holbrook
  • Mitchell Whitfield as Pfc. Mickey Zimmerman
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