DATELINE: Movie Mashup
Call us astonished when we discovered that there is a movie wherein Sergeant Ernest T. Bilko meets Beau Geste and lands us in an oasis of British comedy about the French Foreign Legion.
Well, it’s something akin to that. It seems when Phil Silvers had his famous Bilko TV series cancelled, he went off to merry old England and made a movie with the Carry On… gang. It was called Follow That Camel and was made in 1967.
In beautiful Technicolor, Silvers shines with his usual schtick. He plays Sgt. Nocker of the French Foreign Legion in 1906. For all purposes, he is Bilko, barking orders the same way he did in his hit show You’ll Never Get Rich.
Oh, his commandant is a German right out of Stalag 17, and there are more belly dancers than you could possibly imagine for Silvers to leer at in the Zig Zag Cafe.
If there was a big difference between the Bilko show and the movie version, it was simply that sexual innuendo was given a free hand. Of course, by today’s standards, Mae West is safe for children. So is Phil Silvers as he sticks his nose into bosoms.
When you dig down deep, there is nothing much to this film except the fun of seeing Phil Silvers continue his personification of a wheeling and dealing con man. He is obsequious to superiors and a shark to others, all hilariously done.
Since Follow That Camel never had a wide distribution to American theaters, we had to find it by accident on Amazon Instant for a nominal fee. Yes, we did feel Bilko had fleeced us by the end of the 90 minutes, but we loved every penny spent.