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Privates on Parade (1983)

R | | Comedy, Drama, War | 18 March 1983 (UK)
2:51 | Trailer
The members of S.A.D.U.S.E.A. (Song and Dance Unit South East Asia) fall in and out of love while trying to dodge Malayan Communist bullets in the late 1940s. Not only that, they have to ... See full summary »


Michael Blakemore


Peter Nichols (screenplay), Peter Nichols (play)





Cast overview, first billed only:
Patrick Pearson Patrick Pearson ... Sergeant Steven Flowers
Michael Elphick ... Sergeant Major Reg Drummond
Joe Melia ... Sergeant Len Bonny
John Standing ... Captain Sholto Savory
Nicola Pagett ... Acting Lieutenant Sylvia Morgan
Simon Jones ... Sergeant Eric Young-Love
David Bamber ... Sergeant Charles Bishop
Bruce Payne ... Flight Sergeant Kevin Cartwright
Robin Langford Robin Langford ... Electrician
Denis Quilley ... Acting Captain Terri Dennis
Neil Pearson ... Pianist
Steve Dixon Steve Dixon ... Drummer
Jasper Jacob Jasper Jacob ... Bass Player
Leonard Preston Leonard Preston ... Trombonist
Peter Hutchinson Peter Hutchinson ... Trumpet Player


The members of S.A.D.U.S.E.A. (Song and Dance Unit South East Asia) fall in and out of love while trying to dodge Malayan Communist bullets in the late 1940s. Not only that, they have to contend with Bible bashing Major Giles Flack (John Cleese), who creates far more danger than any of the jungle inhabitants. Only gay Acting Captain Terri Dennis (Denis Quilley) seems to be capable of coping with him, but even he isn't aware of the cowardly Sergeant Major Reg Drummond (Michael Elphick) selling arms to the natives. Written by Rhino <rhino@blueyonder.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Malaysia, 1947. Some fought. Some danced.


Comedy | Drama | War


R | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Debut theatrical movie of Neil Pearson (Pianist). See more »


Acting Captain Terri Dennis: [dressed as Carmen Miranda, singing] Come and spend a week-a / Down in Costa Rica! / Come and lose / Your heart in Veracruz! / Think how you would bragua / In lovely Nicaragua! / That's the way to chase away the blues! / Down in old Havana, / Everything's 'manana'! / No-one work and everybody play! / How could you resist a / Weekend with Batista / The Latin American way!
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Alternate Versions

An alternate TV version includes some additional musical bits such as "Mad About the Boy", sang by Dennis Quilley, in the same outfit as Marlene Dietrich in "The Blue Angel", after being refused access with his sailor of the evening to the Raffles Hotel. It also has a longer end sequence (before the dance on the parade deck) about "business as usual in Singapore". See more »


Referenced in An Accidental Studio (2019) See more »


English Country Garden
Arranged by Denis King
See more »

User Reviews

The British CutUp in Malaysia
14 April 2004 | by zpzjonesSee all my reviews

I enjoyed this comedy of wits and one liners. The play was recently resurrected here in the U.S. but I didn't get a chance to see it. So I ran across this movie/video not because of John Cleese of Monty Python fame but Nicola Pagett who I had seen in PBS's Upstairs Downstairs. Cleese and the other cast members win me over in this spoof of the British occupying of Malaysia in 1948. Cleese & company are a scratch lot of misfits, some veterans from WW2 others are newbies and as for Nicola Pagett she's not in the military at all even though she wears a uniform. She's called 'Acting Lieutenant' Sylvia Morgan. Very funny since being former military myself I've never heard any rank in any army designated 'Acting Lieutenant'. They are a British example of the American USO called here SADUSEE. The leader and organiser of the troupe is Denis Quiley who operates under Cleese's authority. Quiley & co. perform drag queen skits for the Brit soldiers as well as for friendly Malaysian troups. These skits are hilarious. To see Quiley(who recently passed)dressed as a Carmen Miranda type will make you rewind the tape over & over again just to believe what you had seen. Quiley is marvelous as the outrageous sissified Terry. (The end of the film is ironic but I won't give it away). Some fine Brit character actors, such as a young Bruce Payne, Michael Elphick(great as the double agent Sergeant) & John Quayle (from some Masterpiece Theatre programmings) in a brief appearance as an officer with a truck full of shot up men.

Cleese is given some great lines here as is Quiley and their performances stand out. Much of this film is sort of reminiscient of any episode of M.A.S.H. if you will. Just think of Klinger in one of his drag skits. Or even a Bob Hope series of skits gone awry. This flick sticks in your mind longer and longer after each viewing. So open your mind, dim the lights, set the popcorn(that's what I did) and let Cleese, Quiley and their band of cutups crack you up.

(** this film has a lot of profanity even though it's supposed to be an old fashioned military comedy that takes place in the 40s. The dialogue is quite spicy. And also Pagett has one bare breasted sex scene while seducing a young new intelligence recruit.)

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Official Sites:

Handmade Films Website





Release Date:

18 March 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Angyalbőrben See more »

Filming Locations:

Malaya See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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