Over two years before CBS debuted The Andy Griffith Show on Oct. 3, 1960, Griffith and Don Knotts appeared together in Warner Bros.' 1958 film adaptation of the Mac Hyman book and Ira Levin play No Time For Sergeants.
The comedy film stars Griffith as Pvt. Will Stockdale, a country bumpkin type from Georgia who's been drafted into the Air Force. Although he thinks of "permanent latrine orderly" (P.L.O.) as a promotion, Stockdale proves to be less "backwoods" than Master Sergeant Orville C. King (Myron McCormick) and others assumed.
After Sgt. King lands in hot water for prioritizing Stockdale's latrine cleaning duties over required military exams, the private aces a manual dexterity test from Corporal John C. Brown (Knotts), a psychiatric test from Maj. Royal B. Demming (James Millhollin) and an eye exam.
Other draftees include Stockdale's little buddy Benjamin B. Whitledge (Nick Adams) and obnoxious bully Irving S. Blanchard (Murray Hamilton). Viewers might also recognize future M*A*S*H star Jamie Farr, character actor William Fawcett, Hazel star Howard Smith, Carol Burnett's future brother-in-law Will Hutchins and the always hilarious Dub Taylor.
We won't spoil the rest, but do note that while Griffith did an amazing job as a not-so-hapless hillbilly, McCormick carries the film at times as the comedy's "straight man."
No Time For Sergeants may seem obscure now, but it was a major production in its time and a box office hit. Warner Brothers paid handsomely to take the book, Broadway play and television play (also starring Griffith) to the big screen. In addition, director Mervyn Leroy is known for organizing the production of the Wizard of Oz, so clearly, they brought in the big guns for this peacetime military comedy.
The movie's impact on Mayberry goes beyond its early pairing of Griffith and Knotts. The Stockdale and King characters' hilarious interactions helped inspire Andy Griffith Show spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.
Speaking of TV series, a No Time For Sergeants sitcom aired on ABC in 1964. The poorly-rated series ran for just 34 episodes, with county and rockabilly musician Sammy Jackson in the starring role. Per IMDB, Kevin O'Neal co-starred as Ben Whitledge.