Newspaper headline appears
ANNOUNCER: Fort Baxter to be tested for Reception Centre.
We are in the Colonel’s office at Fort Baxter. Colonel Hall is addressing several officers and enlisted men. The office is set up for some kind of exercise which is in the process of being explained.
COLONEL: Men, I don’t have to tell you what it will mean to show General Rogers we can process, uniform and induct over three hundred recruits into the Army within the standard limit of three hours. We must operate like a machine, without using any names, but if there is a monkey wrench thrown in……..
BILKO: Really, sir, I……..
COLONEL: I did not mention any names, Sergeant Bilko. Men, I think Washington is in for a surprise; Captain Barker will tell you about it. Captain Barker.
BILKO (Bilko starts applause): How about that.
CAPTAIN BARKER: By eliminating eight of the steps now used in processing by the Army, which is nothing but red tape and repetition, we can process these men, not in three hours, but in two hours!
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Two hours! Impossible!
CAPTAIN BARKER: Oh no it isn’t. If we can keep these men moving at top speed, from the time they check in………moving, moving, moving we can do it.
COLONEL: This is it, men. If we can do it. Promotions for you up and down the line. Not only for the officers, but the enlisted men too. (They cheer. Colonel continues modestly) And I may add your commanding officer, instead of an unknown colonel of a forgotten post, will be an officer of stature nd military importance.
BILKO: You’re leaving us, sir?
COLONEL: Never mind.
BILKO: You’ll be missed around here, Sir.
BILKO: (He stands to lead the group): How about it, men? “Should auld acquaintance be forgot……..”
COLONEL: Quiet, I’m staying.
BILKO: Yes, sir.
COLONEL: How long will you be with us, Bilko, depends on what happens today. There will be an inspection by General Rogers before zero hour.
BILKO: A General is coming into my barracks for inspection? Sir, may I suggest……..
COLONEL: I know. I thought of it too. But it’s too late to burn your barracks.
BILKO: Yes, sir.
COLONEL: Alright, so let’s do it!
We are now in Sergeant Bilko’s barracks.
BILKO: Oh Rocco, these new signs are an inspiration.
ROCCO: Thanks, Sarge.
BILKO: Oh, the barracks look nice. Now look, we’ve gotta shine. Ten-shun. I want all the belts right in a line. (He feels the front line for flat stomachs. Finally, he comes to Dobermans pot-belly) Come on Doberman, lift it, stomachs in! (Looks aghast at Duane’s stomach, which still bulges out) Oh never mind, when the General walks in he’ll probably think this is a fine barracks. And then the first one he’ll see…..err, get back just a little. (Doberman goes behind front rank) The General will walk in and……..I can still see him! Block him off. Why is he here today?
ROCCO: He’s the barrack’s Orderly.
BILKO: Barrack’s Orderly, front and centre. Take care of the furnace room, Doberman.
DOBERMAN: In the middle of summer?
BILKO: The wind may shift. Look alive. (He barks him off) The barracks look even better already. Get everything shining. Understand?
HENSHAW: Here come the rookies, Sarge.
(A dozen rookies come marching in)
BILKO: Come in there’s room for everyone.
LIEUTENANT ANDERSON: Sergeant Bilko, this is section 7B. Twelve men, you are responsible for their processing, that’s all.
BILKO: Thank you very much, Sir. (Turns to men)
BILKO: Alright men, let’s keep a steady line. A nice little line (He starts barking at the men and they cower away, scared) No, no men, don’t be frightened……..that’s just the way we do it. Come on men, on-the-double, don’t be nervous. May I introduce myself; I’m your Master Sergeant, Sergeant Ernest Bilko. You men, you can call me Ernie, what about that? That’s a good way to start isn’t it? You can check your valuables with Corporal Barbella. He’s bonded. Those of you who want to leave your suitcase, that’s Corporal Henshaw on the left. (The men break ranks and as Bilko starts to leave one of the recruits, Chapman, addresses him)
CHAPMAN: Excuse me, Sergeant. My name is Chapman. I have a question.
BILKO: There is always one…..What? What?
CHAPMAN: Sergeant, I have some perishable things in this bag. I’m afraid if it’s under a pile of luggage……..If there’s some empty room I can leave it……..
BILKO: Put it in the furnace room. It’s at the end of the barracks.
CHAPMAN: Gee, thanks. (He lifts up a heavy bag and takes it off)
BILKO: Now men. In a few minutes there is gonna be a General in here on inspection.
We are now in the furnace room. Chapman comes in with sack. He closes the door carefully, opens top of bag.
CHAPMAN: Take it easy, Zippo. Everything is gonna be alright. Let’s get you out of the bag. (He looks around and disappears behind a partition. Doberman comes in brushing the room... Chapman comes out, looks around, goes back. Now he comes back with a monkey on roller skates)
CHAPMAN: (Talking to the chimp): Try and understand, Zippo. There was nothing else I could do. If you’ll just stay here quiet until I can contact Herman…….. (Doberman gets up and looks……..mouth agape, Chapman sees Doberman) Look, keep it quiet will you soldier.
DOBERMAN: Hey! are you crazy? A monkey in the barracks.
CHAPMAN: You don’t understand, it was the only thing I could do….. My brother was supposed to……….(The monkey roller skates out the door. Back in the barracks, the platoon is lined up, as immaculate as they can be, in fatigues. The recruits are in the front line)
BILKO: Now remember you men. Not a shoelace out of line. (Henshaw rushes in)
HENSHAW: Hey, Sarge. The inspection party’s coming out of the next barracks. There’s a General with them.
BILKO: Let them come. Alright men, give me those steely eyes and those hard muscles. (The monkey roller skates by into Bilko’s room. Bilko catches a flash of him and shouts over his shoulders :) Doberman, I want you back in the furnace room. (He turns to Rocco who has seen the monkey and is just staring wildly) Will you get him back in the furnace room? If the General……..What’s the matter, Rocco? Don’t freeze on me in an emergency.
ROCCO: Sarge, that wasn’t Doberman. That was a monkey.
BILKO: You’re cracking up. (He laughs) Did you hear that men, want to hear a funny one? Rocco thought he saw…….. (The monkey roller skates back)
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Sergeant Bilko’s barracks. Get ready for inspection.
BILKO: A monkey (The monkey starts coming back) Grab him! Grab him!
CHAPMAN: Look Sarge, if I can just hide him……..
BILKO: Get him!
HENSHAW: (At door): They’re coming this way. (The monkey begins to skate through the barracks with Bilko and the platoon in manic pursuit. Henshaw is posted at the door looking out for brass. At the last moment Bilko and Rocco grab the monkey. Bilko barks orders and the platoon forms a square around the monkey)
HENSHAW: Ten-shun! (The General enters followed by Colonel Hall)
COLONEL: This is the motor pool platoon. Sergeant Bilko in command: (The General is looking curiously at the square)
GENERAL: Isn’t that a rather odd formation, Sergeant?
BILKO: Well sir, it’s just an example of the vision of our commanding officer. We are constantly training in becoming acquainted with military manoeuvres of foreign nations.
GENERAL: And what is this one?
BILKO: Surely the General recognizes the British Square.
COLONEL: The British Square?
BILKO: The square that won India and all that, you know.
GENERAL: Very interesting, Colonel.
BILKO: I wish I had time to show the General the Armenian Oblong……..
COLONEL: Never mind. (He tries ushering the General out) We don’t have much time, General.
GENERAL: The Armenian Oblong. You must explain it to me, Jack.
COLONEL: Of course. Of course. (The General leaves, Colonel turns) Bilko, what’s going on?
BILKO: Really, sir. Your Colonel, men……..A British cheer for the Colonel. Hip hip……..
BILKO: Hip hip…….. (The inspecting party goes out of the door) Quiet.
BILKO: (Now frantically): Where is he? Where is he? (He grabs Chapman) Get that monkey out of here.
CHAPMAN: He’s not a monkey. He’s a chimpanzee.
BILKO: (Bowing) Heavens……..I made a social error. Now listen you. I don’t know what your game is.
CHAPMAN: Believe me it’s no game. You see, we’re a vaudeville act, “Charlie and Zippo.” I raised him. I explained to the draft board that if I left him with strangers he’d pine away and die. I couldn’t do that to him.
BILKO: (To the heavens): Why? Why?
CHAPMAN: My brother was supposed to meet me here in Roseville and take Zippo. His train was late. He’s probably in town now looking for me.
HENSHAW: Sarge, maybe we could sneak the monkey into town.
BILKO: Are you nuts? The post is swarming with……. (Chimp makes a grab for Bilko’s cap) Please, now you stop that!
ROCCO: Maybe, we could sneak him off the post. He could bring back his brother in town on a visitor’s pass, pick up the monkey…….. (Chimp makes a grab for Bilko’s cap again)
HENSHAW: Yeah. I could have him through the back fence, into town and back before the processing begins.
BILKO: You’re having a lot of fun aren’t you? Do you know what it means if they find a monkey on the post. Get him outa here. You go and get your brother……..
HENSHAW: Let’s go.
CHAPMAN: Goodbye, Zippo. There are some bananas in the bag and if he……..
BILKO: Doberman, get a bag of bananas and stay right on him. You keep him in the latrine, cover him with something. (Looks to heavens) Why! Why! (They leave)
BILKO: (To one of the new recruits): Hide him in the latrine. I’ll get some blankets to cover him. Doberman, get the bag. (He rushes into his room) (To the heavens): Why? Why?
ROCCO: Right guys fall in. Now remember you guys, not a word about the monkey.
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Attention all units. This is Captain Barker. Collect your inductees and be ready to proceed to the staging area. It is zero minus three.
ROCCO: Oh no! They’re starting. (To the recruit with the monkey) Get that monkey in the latrine. Ernie! (He rushes into Bilko’s room)
RECRUIT: (To rookie): What’s a latrine?
ROOKIE: I dunno………hey an officer is coming. (The rookie shrugs. Lieutenant Anderson comes into the barracks).
LIEUTENANT ANDERSON: Alright, Squad 7B. This way, follow me. Forward-March!
We are in the check-in room. Rookies are passing in a line behind a two and a half foot balustrade. A WAC at a typewriter is seated with her back to the men. Sergeant Sowici has his back to the men, with a clipboard in his hands.
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Keep the line moving. No talking. Follow the man in front of you.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD (He hands rookie a paper without looking at him): Next?
SOWICI: State your name.
O’BRIEN: William O’Brien.
SOWICI (Loudly): William O’Brien.
WAC: (Starts typing): William O’Brien.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD (Checking off): William O’Brien.
(WAC rips out paper from typewriter, hands it to Captain Arnold)
CAPTAIN ARNOLD (Checking off list very fast): Have you ever had rheumatism? Pneumonia? Smallpox? Chicken pox? German measles?
(The captain talks right through his “no” as he is checking)
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Next? (He hands the paper quickly to O’Brien)
SOWICI: State your name.
DUBRO: Edwin Dubro.
SOWICI: Edwin Dubro.
WAC (Typing): Edwin Dubro.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Edwin Dubro. Have you ever had rheumatism? Pneumonia? Smallpox? Chicken pox? German measles? (Hands back paper) Next?
SOWICI (Busy with records): State your name. (Pause) Hurry, (The chimp is in line) speak up!
WAC: Harry Speakup!
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Harry Speakup. Have you ever had rheumatism? Pneumonia? Smallpox? Chicken pox? German measles? (Hands paper back to chimp) Next?
SOWICI: State your name.
FORD: Martin Ford.
WAC: Martin Ford.
SOWICI: Martin Ford.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Martin Ford. Have you ever had rheumatism? Pneumonia? Smallpox? Chicken pox? German measles? (Hands paper back) Next?
CAPTAIN BARKER (With walkie-talkie): Alright, speed it up! Keep moving! How’s it going?
(Takes paper from Sowici)
SOWICI: Bilko’s squad all checked in!
CAPTAIN BARKER: Good.
BILKO: Captain Barker……..
CAPTAIN BARKER: Okay, Bilko, your squad 7B all checked in. (Hands paper to Bilko)
CAPTAIN BARKER: Yes, you had twelve, didn’t you?
BILKO: Yes (Relieved) They got him back in time.
CAPTAIN BARKER (Into walkie-talkie): What? A jam-up in the dental clinic? Bilko, push them through dental. Keep it moving. Keep it moving.
BILKO (He barks): Alright, move, move everybody on the double (Recruits rush past Bilko) Keep this line going. (Monkey passes, on roller skates, with a cigarette in his mouth) No smoking! Alright every…….(He suddenly realizes what he has seen. Stands back aghast, and then chases the monkey)
CAPTAIN BARKER: Bilko, come back here.
BILKO: Sir, I’ve gotta stop the line.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Stop the line…..
BILKO: Please sir let me explain.
CAPTAIN BARKER: You explain to the Colonel. Report to him, Bilko.
BILKO: But, sir.
CAPTAIN BARKER: That’s an order.
BILKO: The Colonel. The Colonel. (Rushes off)
We are in the dental clinic. We now see a medic sergeant and a dental lieutenant seated in a chair facing the recruits as they come in and by them. WAC Billie is taking notes. The lieutenant has a round reflector on his forehead. In front of him, several recruits stand up ready in line.
DENTAL LIEUTENANT: Open wide. Cavity rear molar. Next?
SERGEANT: Edwin Dubro.
WAC: Edwin Dubro.
DENTAL LIEUTENANT: Open wide. Check bicuspid. Next? (The monkey stands in front of him)
SERGEANT: Harry Speakup.
WAC: Harry Speakup.
DENTAL LIEUTENANT: Open wide. Overdeveloped canines. Extreme underbite. Next?
SERGEANT: Martin Ford.
WAC: Martin Ford.
We are in the Colonel’s office……..same room as opening. A large diagram is up.
COLONEL: Oh, just give some of us small posts a chance to show what we can do and well………(Bilko rushes in)
BILKO: Colonel Hall. There’s something……..
COLONEL: I don’t want to hear it. Bilko, I’m busy, it’ll keep til later.
BILKO: Sir, you’ve got to stop the line……..
COLONEL: Of course. Long enough for you to collect some bet that we won’t make it on schedule? Get back to your post.
BILKO: But sir…….
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Squad 7B take off your shoes get ready for the foot clinic.
BILKO: Foot clinic, oh no…… (Rushes off)
We are in a medical office. There is a foot doctor on a stool in front of small platform. Steps on either side. Continuous screen hides all of rookie’s body, about twelve inches from the floor, so all we see are rookie’s feet and head and shoulders. As line goes through, we see feet on each step.
SERGEANT: Edwin Dubro.
CORPORAL: Edwin Dubro.
FOOT DOCTOR: Declivity, left arch. Next?
SERGEANT: Harry Speakup!
CORPORAL: Harry Speakup!
(Doctor just looks for several seconds. He calmly takes off glasses, breathes on them, puts them back on and looks again. Turns aside. Takes off glasses and rubs eyes wearily)
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: There’s a stoppage in foot clinic. Foot clinic, why aren’t you moving?
CORPORAL: Something wrong Captain?
FOOT DOCTOR (To no one in particular): You look at feet all day, it’s got to happen. (Wearily turns back) Next?
SERGEANT: Martin Ford.
CORPORAL: Martin Ford.
FOOT DOCTOR: Incipient bunion, right foot. Next?
SERGEANT: Robert Reese. (Captain Barker rushes in with walkie-talkie)
CAPTAIN BARKER: There was a stoppage. We lost ten seconds. What happened?
FOOT DOCTOR: Nothing. Next? (As names are called, Bilko rushes up)
BILKO: Captain Barker…….
CAPTAIN BARKER: Bilko, this is no……
BILKO: Sir, if you let me take one of my men out of line……..
CAPTAIN BARKER: What?
BILKO: He isn’t what you think he is.
CAPTAIN BARKER: That’s for the psychiatrist to find out. They’re heading there now.
BILKO: Psychiatrist. (He rushes off)
We are in the psychiatry office.
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Keep the line moving. (A psychiatrist captain seated at side of desk, with his back to rookies. The men are still shuffling in line)
PSYCHIATRIST (Taking notes): Phobia is normal. Tendency for exaggeration. Into the next room for your intelligence test. Next?
(Harry Speakup enters the room. The monkey gets onto the desk. The psychiatrist is looking away from the chimp)
PSYCHIATRIST (Very fast): Well Harry, be brief when you talk. Do you love your Mother and Father? Any frustrations? Do you dream? Any childhood frustrations? (Monkey gets onto the table and starts tap dancing and spinning around on it) Err, calm down young man. Do you like girls? Don’t be shy about it. Any insanity in your family, Father, Mother, Grandfather? (Monkey leaves and Bill Benson comes in)
PSYCHIATRIST (Starting same routine): Bill tell me about your Mother and Father…….(Bilko rushes in)
BILKO: Sir, if you’ll just keep quiet until the General is off the post……..
PSYCHIATRIST: What are you talking about?
BILKO: You know. This……. (Looks around) Harry Speakup.
PSYCHIATRIST: What about Harry? Just had a nice talk with him. He’s going to be all right.
BILKO: All right.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Alright, what’s the jam-up here? Bilko, they’re taking the intelligence tests, get them through.
We are in the intelligence testing room. Nine desks and seats. At a table a testing officer sits with his back to recruits.
PUBLIC ADDRESS SYSTEM VOICE: Intelligence test, keep it moving.
TESTING OFFICER (As Bilko’s squad enter): Alright, keep it moving. Take any seat. Bilko, what are you doing here? A printed test and pencil is on each desk. Read the instructions clearly, on the sheets. Check the correct answers clearly. Begin. (Presses bell, Ching! The monkey is seated at one of the middle row desks. In front of him is very serious-looking recruit who is going through the tests like a man on a mission, checking away with his pencil. The monkey is trying to keep up, aping the man in front of him, but naturally having a more difficult time of it. Bilko has a thought)
BILKO: Are there any irregularities, sir? (Walks up and down, looks at monkey)
TESTING OFFICER: If there are any irregularities, there will be an investigation.
BILKO: Investiga…….. (Bilko looks at recruit in front of monkey) You’re all through? (Rookie just shrugs his shoulders as if to say piece of cake)
TESTING OFFICER: One minute left.
BILKO: Oh, Your pencil. (Bilko brushes by the studious recruit’s desk and knocks pencil to floor. As recruit bends down to retrieve pencil, Bilko deftly switches monkey’s exam papers with the recruit’s. Bell rings)
TESTING OFFICER: Alright stop. Print your name in the right-hand corner.
BILKO: Print your name in the right-hand corner. (He is printing on monkey’s paper)
TESTING OFFICER: Alright, dismiss.
BILKO: Get him out! Get him out! Alright, keep moving. (Bilko ushers men out of the room)
We are in the Colonel’s Headquarters.
GENERAL: I don’t believe it. You may make it in two hours. (Colonel and Barker smile at each other)
COLONEL: Two hours. General, you had better get to the assembly hall to swear them in before they beat you to it. (They all laugh. General departs)
CAPTAIN BARKER: We’re going to do it, sir. We’re going to do it. Alright, get those records out.
COLONEL (With stop watch): One hour forty-six minutes.
CAPTAIN BARKER: We’re going to do it, sir. We’re going to do it. (Rushes out as Bilko rushes in)
BILKO: Colonel Hall. I must speak to you.
COLONEL: Not now.
Bilko: Sir, you’ve got to stop the line. It’s an emergency
COLONEL: Stop the line? Just when we’re on the verge of setting a record in inducting three hundred and nine men into the Army? In under two hours?
BILKO: Three hundred and eight men, Sir.
COLONEL: Three hundred and eight? Men?
BILKO: Yes, one is a monkey.
COLONEL: A monkey?
BILKO: Yes Sir, it’s an emergency. Please listen to me.
COLONEL: Bilko, is this one of your jokes?
BILKO: I was never more serious. He’s even got a name, Private Harry Speakup. I don’t know how it happened……..a monkey was taken into the Army and you did it sir. You must stop them, please.
COLONEL (He grabs phone): Stop the processing. Stop the……..What? (In a daze he hangs up)
BILKO: What is it, Sir? What is it? (The Colonel, shell-shocked, goes to loud-speaker and turns it on)
GENERAL ROGERS’ VOICE: And I will fulfil……..
CHORUS OF VOICES: And I will fulfil……..
GENERAL: To the best of my ability……..
CHORUS: To the best of my ability……..
GENERAL: My duties as a soldier in the United States Army……..
CHORUS: My duties as a soldier in the United States Army……..
GENERAL: Well men, you’re in the Army now.
(The Colonel switches off the loud-speaker)
COLONEL (Blankly): He’s in the Army now.
BILKO: Well sir, it’s nobody’s fault.
COLONEL: What a way to end a career! Will they remember me as a West Point officer who was cited twice for bravery? (Shakes head) No. They’ll remember me as the man that opened the doors of the Army to the animal kingdom. A monkey.
BILKO: Well sir…….there’s another way to look at it in these tense times, the world needs a good laugh.
COLONEL: A good laugh. (He laughs bitterly) (The door bursts open. Captain Barker and staff enter)
CAPTAIN BARKER: We did it! (Staff all congratulate Colonel)
CAPTAIN BARKER: To think, Sir. In under two hours, three hundred and nine men.
COLONEL: Three hundred and eight men.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Three hundred and eight?
COLONEL: Three hundred and eight men and the other one was………I can’t (Puts hand to forehead) you tell them what he was Bilko.
BILKO: Well, actually it’s the way you look at it.
COLONEL: Tell them.
BILKO: He’s a monkey. (The group is shocked)
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: A monkey. Oh no!
FOOT DOCTOR: The feet. Now I remember those feet.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Bilko, you’ll pay for this.
COLONEL: We’ll all pay for this. (General Rogers walks in. He is in a trance)
BILKO: Ten-shun! General Rogers.
COLONEL: Ah, General Rogers. We just have to make some changes to the records and here……..Is anything wrong, General?
GENERAL (In a daze): Nothing. Nothing. It’s just that……… Nothing. Nothing.
BILKO: Perhaps if I take the General to the guest house where he can rest a while.
GENERAL: No. No. I’ll be all right. It’s just that I thought I saw…….I was shaking hands with the new men as they filed by, suddenly…….. (He mimes shaking hands with men all sizes then suddenly bends down and shakes hands with an imaginary three-foot creature, then straightens up) I’ll be all right.
COLONEL: It’s no use. Tell him, Bilko.
GENERAL: Tell me what?
BILKO: General, that……. (Bilko shakes hands with the imaginary monkey)…….you thought you saw…….. (The General shakes his head slowly) “No.” (Bilko nods affirmatively)…….It was.
GENERAL (Takes deep breath): So we took a monkey into the Army. (Laughing quietly)
BILKO (Playing up to him, chuckling): Oh. The General has a sense of humour.
GENERAL: Quiet! A monkey. And I swore him in. (He sinks in his chair, head in hands)
BILKO: Why don’t we all look on the brighter side. This does prove we have a democratic Army.
GENERAL: Who is this man?
CAPTAIN BARKER: He’s the man responsible for……..
COLONEL: We’re all responsible.
GENERAL: Quiet. (He takes phone) This is General Rogers. Lock all the gates. Cut off all communications until further notice. (He slams down the phone) Now let’s stop acting like hysterical women and get this mess straightened out.
BILKO: Direct action. That’s why he’s a general. Colonel, you can take note he……..
GENERAL: Quiet. That’ll be all, Private.
BILKO: Private! Sir, I’m a Sergeant (He shows sleeve with chevrons)
GENERAL: I know. I’m thinking ahead. (To Colonel) Well, Lieutenant.
COLONEL: Lieutenant? Oh, I see.
GENERAL: Exactly, unless this ridiculous mess is kept quiet.
COLONEL: Yes, General. Sergeant Barker, get that monkey off the post at once.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: I’m afraid it’s not that simple, sir.
GENERAL: What do you mean?
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: The records have already been sent to the Pentagon.
GENERAL: Oh no.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: They have records of 309 men. If we can produce only 308 they’ll start inquiring what happened to Private Speakup.
GENERAL: We have to move fast. Throw him out for having subnormal intelligence. (The officers look at each other)
GENERAL: Well, what’s wrong?
COLONEL: He was the third highest in the group.
GENERAL: Third highest?
BILKO: Ha ha, he’s a bright little monkey.
GENERAL: Stop that! This is fantastic. Fantastic.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Unless we find some legal reason to discharge…….. (The phone rings)
COLONEL (Answering): Look, I said I don’t want to be bothered……What? In the kitchen? He bit Sergeant Sowici’s finger.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Just a moment, sir. He bit a superior officer.
COLONEL: Captain Barker, you don’t mean……..
CAPTAIN BARKER: A court-martial.
COLONEL: A court-martial.
GENERAL (Staring ahead): Court-martialling a monkey.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: It’s the only legal way, sir.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Yes, Sir. And once the monkey is proved guilty and discharged, the legal channels are open for disciplinary action against the person responsible for the whole mess. (Everybody looks at Bilko)
BILKO: Really sir, you aren’t gonna blame me….
GENERAL: Quiet! Cut the orders. Court-martial convenes in fifteen minutes.
BILKO: But ……in 15 minutes.
GENERAL: I’m appointing you the monkey’s defence counsel. We’ll kill two birds with one stone. Fifteen minutes and not one word of this to anybody. Ever.
We are in a military court-martial. The Colonel’s office is set up like a miniature courtroom. The General is seated behind the Colonel’s desk. At his side sits the Colonel. Next to the Colonel is Captain Barker. At a small table sits a stenographer with a stenotype machine. A chair is placed to the right of the Colonel’s desk: The witness chair. Captain Arnold is standing behind the witness chair. At a third table sits Bilko.
CAPTAIN ARNOLD (Standing): Summary court-martial proceeding this fifteenth day of………
GENERAL: Cut the red tape. The quicker we get this stupid farce over with the better.
COLONEL: Court is convened.
GENERAL: Is prosecution ready?
CAPTAIN BARKER: Ready, sir.
GENERAL: Is defence counsel ready?
BILKO (Rising): Sir, I’d like a postponement.
BILKO: There are some legal points we haven’t had a chance to……
GENERAL: Quiet! Bring in the defendant. (An MP brings in the monkey. He is wearing an army jacket and a cap. He sits next to Bilko)
GENERAL: Oh no. I can’t go through with it.
BILKO: I don’t blame you, sir. Is that the best fit……..
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Quiet! Sir, it’s the only way. Otherwise it will look like……..
GENERAL: Get it over with!
COLONEL: What are the specifications?
(At this minute, Bilko and the chimp seem to be discussing their case together)
CAPTAIN ARNOLD: Specifications against the accused read as follows: That on the sixteenth day of June, this year, the defendant, Private Harry Speakup, did wilfully and maliciously break Army Regulation 67B2 by assaulting a superior officer, Master Sergeant Stanley Sowici, by biting him on the right index finger.
GENERAL: No one will ever believe this.
COLONEL: Call the first witness.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Sergeant Sowici. (Sowici takes witness stand)
COLONEL: Do you, Stanley Sowici, solemnly………
GENERAL: Hurry up.
SOWICI: I do.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Will you state your full name and rank.
SOWICI: Stanley Sowici, Master Sergeant, United States Army.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Sergeant, will you state your present duties.
SOWICI: I’m the company cook.
CAPTAIN BARKER: In your own words, Sergeant, you tell the court what happened at exactly 1400 hours, the sixteenth day of June.
SOWICI: Yes sir. I went to the storeroom to get some apples for the Waldorf salad. We always have Waldorf salad on Thursday. When I can’t get walnuts I usually throw in a few……..
GENERAL: Are you going to recite the cooks’ and bakers’ manual or are you going to tell us what happened?
SOWICI: Sorry, sir. Well, I was reached for an apple when all of a sudden this monkey runs in and grabs three bananas.
BILKO (Rises): Objection.
BILKO: I object to the use of the derogatory word “monkey” when referring to the defendant.
GENERAL: You object…….
BILKO: Really, sir this court rules otherwise, the defendant is a Private in the United States Army…… (Monkey bangs the table seeming to agree with Bilko’s statement) That’s right! Right, sir, I must continue as a Private in the United States Army. He is privileged to be addressed by his full rank……..a rank that so many glorious men in the past have…….
GENERAL: Objection sustained. Go on. (Bilko and chimp seem to be talking over the case, quietly)
SOWICI: Like I said this…….
BILKO: Private Harry Speakup.
SOWICI: Private Harry Speakup grabbed the bananas. I ordered him to drop the bananas but he didn’t pay any attention to me. And, in the ensuing struggle he bit my hand. That’s the story.
GENERAL: Well it’s pretty clear. He’s guilty. Let’s……
GENERAL: Oh no.
COLONEL: Bilko, are you trying to stall this.
BILKO: I just want to give in the interest of justice for Private Speakup, we must…….
GENERAL: Your witness.
BILKO (He now paces up and down, cross examining the witness): Sergeant Sowici, in your testimony you stated…….quote…….” I ordered him to drop the bananas and he didn’t pay any attention to me.”
SOWICI: That’s right.
BILKO: Didn’t he say anything?
SOWICI: Oh, he started a lot of chattering, if that’s what you mean.
BILKO: A lot of chattering which you didn’t understand.
SOWICI: Who can understand it? It was just chattering.
BILKO: Did it ever occur to you, sir. That in his way he was trying to tell you the bananas were his. And, didn’t it occur to you that as a Private he’s entitled to be fed by the United States Army.
GENERAL: Bilko, stop stalling. It’s an open and shut case. This monkey bit……
GENERAL (Covers eyes in despair as he speaks): Excuse me; Private Speakup bit a non-commissioned officer, maliciously.
BILKO (Pointing to the monkey): Maliciously, sir? Could he?
BILKO: Sergeant Sowici, you stated that you grabbed Private Speakup. Is that correct?
BILKO: Had he grabbed you first?
BILKO: Sergeant, are you aware of the Army regulation specifically state that forbid, at any time, a non-commissioned officer from laying hands on an enlisted man under him?
SOWICI: Now wait a minute. All I did was……..
BILKO: All you did was disqualify yourself as a witness. I submit to the court that since we have no authorative witness, there can be no trial and my client is innocent.
(MP whispers to Captain Barker who leaves)
GENERAL: You mean we can’t even court martial a monkey?
COLONEL: Bilko, this time I think you’ve gone too far.
BILKO: I hate to give the trouble (monkey gets out of chair and grabs a telephone) Just a minute, sir. I think he’s calling for another Lawyer. (MP gets monkey off the phone) (Bilko turns to the monkey and says :) You’ve got to let me handle this my way.
BILKO: I’m sorry I caused all this trouble, but there is no case against the witness, is no charge against me that…….so in that case I’ll return to my men.
CAPTAIN BARKER (Returning): No charge, Sergeant?
GENERAL: What is this? (Captain Barker brings in Chapman)
MP: We found this civilian sneaking into the post through the back fence.
BILKO: A Spy. I’ll take care of him.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Not so fast. Mr Chapman, you were in this camp and then against all regulations went AWOL.
CHAPMAN: I know. But I was ordered to.
CAPTAIN BARKER: And who ordered you to do this?
CHAPMAN: Sergeant Bilko.
BILKO: I never saw this man in my entire life.
CAPTAIN BARKER: Bilko, this time we’ve got you. A sergeant ordering a man to go AWOL.
GENERAL: This court-martial is still in session. Just change the name from Speakup to Bilko.
BILKO: Oh, sir we’re in no trouble here.
GENERAL: What are you talking about?
BILKO: It’s just a slight misunderstanding. It’s very clear.
GENERAL: Start clearing.
BILKO: Chapman, what happened when the defendant entered into the Army?
CHAPMAN: It broke up our act.
BILKO: And that meant?
CHAPMAN: He is the sole support of myself, my mother and father, my brother and his entire family.
BILKO: And so without him there was no living?
GENERAL: A hardship case! A hardship case!
BILKO: He’s out of the Army.
GENERAL: He’s out. He’s out. (The Colonel shakes hands with Bilko)
COLONEL: I don’t see how you did it.
BILKO: Sir, let’s not be hasty. He certainly could have done better on the witness stand than Sowici.
GENERAL: The court-martial of Harry Speakup is over. And remember from this day on. You heard nothing, (Captain Barker covers his ears) you saw nothing, (Colonel Hall covers his eyes) you say nothing ((Sergeant Bilko puts a finger to his lips).