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The Private War of Major Benson (1955)

As a disciplinary measure, the Army transfers a heavy-handed Major to a ROTC academy where he must shape-up cadets and improve the school's overall ratings.


Jerry Hopper


Joe Connelly (story), Bob Mosher (story) | 2 more credits »
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Charlton Heston ... Maj. Bernard R. 'Barney' Benson
Julie Adams ... Dr. Kay Lambert
William Demarest ... John
Tim Hovey ... Cadet Thomas 'Tiger' Flaherty
Nana Bryant ... Mother Redempta
Tim Considine ... Cadet Lt. Gerald Hibler
Sal Mineo ... Cadet Col. Sylvester Dusik
Milburn Stone ... Maj. Gen. Wilton J. Ramsey
Mary Field ... Sister Mary Theresa
Joey D. Vieira ... Cadet Cpl. Scawalski (as Donald Keeler)
Gary Pagett Gary Pagett ... Cadet Lt. Molony
Mickey Little Mickey Little ... Cadet Lt. Hanratty
Don Haggerty ... Harold Hibler
David Janssen ... Young Lieutenant
Richard H. Cutting ... Monsignor Collins


A Major noted for advancing with his mouth before thinking is given a choice: to be drummed out of the Army, or take command of and shape up the ROTC program at Sheridan Academy before it fails its next inspection. At Sheridan he encounters three hundred pre-teen cadets who range from rascally to adorable, and a female doctor who has just the right prescription for him. Written by Martin H. Booda <booda@datasync.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Happily yours from Universal-International See more »


Comedy | Family | Romance


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Release Date:

2 December 1955 (Finland) See more »

Also Known As:

La guerra privada del mayor Benson See more »


Box Office


$600,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

2.00 : 1
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Did You Know?


Tim Considine, who plays the sensitive (if not coddled) cadet who is berated by Major Benson in this film, would later play the battle-fatigued soldier who gets slapped by the title character in Patton (1970) (1970). See more »


[first lines]
Young Lieutenant: Major, you're exposed!
Maj. Bernard 'Barney' Benson: Get the men back to their original positions. We'll try it again.
Young Lieutenant: Major, we've executed the maneuver 27 times since noon. The men are tired.
Maj. Bernard 'Barney' Benson: They missed their objective by 17 seconds. Now do it till they do it right.
Young Lieutenant: Yes, sir.
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Remade as Major Payne (1995) See more »


Toy Tiger
Music by Henry Mancini
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User Reviews

The Private War of Major Benson (1955) ***
18 March 2007 | by JoeKarlosiSee all my reviews

A wonderfully charming little comedy written by Joe Connelly and Bob Mosher (Leave It To Beaver). During the filming of THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, Cecil B. DeMille had a mild heart attack and the production shut down. Charlton Heston decided this comedy would be perfect for him to do in the meantime and tried hard to get the part, even though it was a Universal movie and COMMANDMENTS was being made at Paramount. Heston wanted the film so badly that he agreed to work quickly and for no salary and settle for a share of the profits (which turned out very well for him, as MAJOR BENSON became somewhat of a success).

Heston is a tough as nails army major who treats his soldiers roughly and pulls no punches when saying what's on his mind. When he causes the Army embarrassment, his general decides to assign him to ROTC duty for one last chance to get his act together. He is sent to a Catholic Military Academy for boys, where he has a difficult job adjusting to them and dropping his rough exterior when leading them through their training. Heston proves he is able to play comedy and is quite good in the film. Also in the cast is Sal Mineo as one of the older cadets in the school, and Julie Adams (right after she made CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON) as a doctor who finds it hard to resist Major Benson. A real scene stealer is 6 year old Tim Hovey, the "Private". *** out of ****

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