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Private Benjamin (1980)

Widowed on her wedding night, sheltered and spoiled socialite Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) is feeling forlorn and forsaken and so proves susceptible to a wily and persuasive recruitment officer extolling the joys of life in the “new army of the 80s”.

But, however unfit Judy may be for the military, the army is even less prepared for her.

Against the odds, Judy accepts the challenges facing her and miraculously becomes a good soldier. Eventually, she gets a European posting with NATO and presently meets wealthy French doctor Henri Tremont (Armand Assante). It looks as though a love affair might develop, but after a lifetime of being possessed by parents, fiance, husband and now the Army, she feels that life might be more satisfying on her own.

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At a time when everyone was looking for a star vehicle for Goldie Hawn, she turned up in this high-octane tale about a Jewish princess who joins the US Army.

It’s basically a one-joke effort, but that joke has Hawn throwing herself with great gusto into the role of a bewildered spoilt brat who comes good and her Oscar-nominated performance has huge charm.

If only director Howard Zieff had allowed someone else to get a look in – the members of the supporting cast are mere satellites around a perky sun – and the screenplay had been broadened to contain more than just gags about broken fingernails.

Even so, Eileen Brennan (as Captain Doreen Lewis) and the writers also received Oscar nominations.

Judy Benjamin
Goldie Hawn
Captain Doreen Lewis
Eileen Brennan
Henri Tremont
Armand Assante
Colonel Clay Thornbush
Robert Webber
Teddy Benjamin
Sam Wanamaker
Harriet Benjamin
Barbara Barrie
Private Mary Lou Glass
Mary Kay Place
Sergeant Jim Ballard
Harry Dean Stanton
Yale Goodman
Albert Brooks

Director
Howard Zieff