13 user 3 critic

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?


It was set in Malaya in 1947, and was filmed at Shepperton Studios in London. 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 High Hopes: Privates on Parade (2004) See more »


Music by Franz Lehár
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User Reviews

Please, someone, help this film figure out what it wants to be
1 November 2007 | by TBJCSKCNRRQTreviewsSee all my reviews

Really, the film is as confused as some would argue the cross-dressing military units are. I'm not a fan of John Cleese. That's hardly a secret. I tolerate him on Monty Python, and I will grant that he can entertain, but as a general rule, I don't exactly make it a point to seek out his work(though I do not make as strong efforts as I could to avoid it, either... I reserve that for those that I genuinely cannot stand). This film was purchased for me by someone mistaking it for something having to do with his comedy troupe(with good cause, as its crude pun title was translated to "Python at the Front Lines"). A rather see-through attempt at passing it off as something it's not, really, as he's not joined by even a single other member of the group. One of the main problems is that this cannot seem to make up its mind on what to be; a comedy or a war-drama. Neither of them are achieved particularly effectively, separate from each other, and whenever the two are attempted at the same time, it's even worse. There are times when the war aspect seems tacked on, as if the writers were busy writing the attempts at comedy, and suddenly remember that it's set during war-time. The drama begot little emotional response from me(albeit I will admit that it did manage some, near the very end). The comedy... I don't know, it seemed to mainly consist of the flamboyantly gay character being, well, flamboyantly gay, and shining a spotlight on the fact that the men, soldiers, no less... wait for it... are wearing *dresses*. Yup. That's about it. I guess the musical numbers weren't bad. Cleese does nothing to amuse, playing it more straight than many of us were aware he was capable of. He plays someone who, at least appears to be(it's not really clear) deeply religious, and I couldn't tell if this trait was supposed to be part of the comedy or the drama aspect of the film. I don't know, if you're into musicals and/or men in drag, you may like it. I recommend this to people in either or both of the aforementioned groups(I won't stoop to the level of suggesting that those who enjoy one are highly likely to also enjoy the other), but I'm not sure who else to steer towards this. Don't watch this thinking that Cleese does what you're used to(those goofy-looking poses that you see on the cover of the home release... they're from *one* bit in the film, during the credits, which is really the only time he's Python-y). 5/10

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Release Date:

18 March 1983 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Angyalbőrben See more »

Filming Locations:

Malaya See more »

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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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