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Private Benjamin (1980)

R | | Comedy, War | 10 October 1980 (USA)
A sheltered young high society woman joins the United States Army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected.

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Nominated for 3 Oscars. Another 1 win & 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
Teddy Benjamin
...
Harriet Benjamin
...
Pvt. Mary Lou Glass
...
1st Sgt. Jim Ballard
...
Yale Goodman
...
Rabbi
Estelle Marlov ...
Vocalist at Wedding
Everett Covin ...
Bandleader
...
Arnie
Lee Wallace ...
Mr. Waxman
...
Photographer
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Storyline

When her husband dies on their wedding night, Judy decides to join the United States Army. She realizes that she has never been independent in her entire life. What looks like a bad decision at first, turns out not so bad at all. That is, until her superior officer makes sexual advances on her. She has been transferred to NATO headquarters in Europe and (re)meets the Frenchman Henri Tremont. Judy and Henri decide to marry, but will they? Written by Berend Meijer <bmeijer@euronet.nl>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The army was no laughing matter until Judy Benjamin joined it.

Genres:

Comedy | War

Certificate:

R | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

10 October 1980 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La pícara recluta  »

Box Office

Budget:

$10,000,000 (estimated)

Gross:

$69,800,000 (USA)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Goldie Hawn's memoirs, Arthur Hiller was first choice to direct, but pulled out of the project. See more »

Goofs

Turkish Army officer in NATO HQ is portrayed with a mustache. However, Turkish army personnel are forbidden to grow a mustache. They are obliged to shave everyday. Hence, a Turkish army officer with a mustache or facial hair is not possible. See more »

Quotes

[after sex]
Judy Benjamin: Now I know what I've been faking all these years.
Henri Tremont: That was your first?
Judy Benjamin: And second.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue:

When Judy Benjamin was eight years old, she confessed her life's desire to her best friend.

"All I want," Judy whispered, "is a big house... nice clothes, two closets, a live-in maid, and a professional man for a husband."

Today, all of Judy's dreams come true. See more »

Connections

Remade as Private Valentine: Blonde & Dangerous (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus
(uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
by Richard Wagner
played by string quartet at French chateau wedding
See more »

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User Reviews

 
All present and correct
30 June 2008 | by (London, England) – See all my reviews

The service comedy is a genre almost as old as cinema itself and, whether it's Charlie Chaplin or Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe in the trenches, Andy Griffith befuddling his sergeants, the Carry On team on the assault course or Steve Guttenberg and co at the Police Academy, has an almost immutable formula that is never, ever departed from: through mildly comic misadventure misfit(s) find themselves in the army/navy/air force/police force, are hopelessly unprepared for the harsh realities of basic training, fumble every task yet somehow come out of it all as the perfect soldier/sailor/airman/cop and prove themselves in a mildly comic baptism of fire. Private Benjamin does absolutely nothing to fix what ain't broke, contenting itself to offer the odd slight tweak and flavoring with a mild dose of Jewish humor as Goldie Hawn's sheltered princess finds herself talked into joining the 'new' army by Harry Dean Stanton's smooth-talking recruiting sergeant after husband Albert Brooks dies in the throes of passion before the honeymoon even starts ("Do you remember what the last thing he said was?"] asks his distraught mother, eliciting the reply "I'm coming.").

While it's a given that there are no surprises whatsoever, it's one of those comedies that manages to be pretty consistently funny throughout even if there aren't many really big laughs out of sheer likability. Hawn's character is not too bright but not too Hilton with it – her character arc is not just from dependence to self-reliance but more importantly from not being able to understand why Jill Clayburgh walked out on Alan Bates in An Unmarried Woman to being able to make the same choice herself, in the process tackling sexism rather more effectively than G.I. Jane did 17 years later. Eileen Brennan is clearly having a ball as the obligatory sadistic training officer out to make her life hell and there's a quietly impressive supporting cast filling out the ranks as well as a memorable Bill Conti score. It only really misses its step slightly in the scenes where her Monsieur Right (Armand Assante) rather clumsily turns out to be Monsieur Wrong at the end, as if afraid of losing the audience's sympathy long after she's won them over, but not enough to squander the goodwill it's earned by then.


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