Private Benjamin (1980 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Howard Zieff|
|Produced by||Nancy Meyers
|Written by||Nancy Meyers
|Music by||Bill Conti
Barry De Vorzon
|Cinematography||David M. Walsh|
|Edited by||Sheldon Kahn|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
Private Benjamin is a 1980 American comedy film starring Goldie Hawn. The film was one of the biggest box office hits of 1980, and also spawned a short-lived television series. The film is ranked 82 on the American Film Institute's "100 Funniest Movies" poll, and 59 on Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies".
Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) a 28-year-old whose lifelong dream is to "marry a professional man", joins the U.S. Army after her new husband (Albert Brooks) dies on their wedding night during sex. Adrift, Benjamin realizes that she has never been independent in her entire life, and she meets a sneaky recruiting sergeant, Jim Ballard (Harry Dean Stanton), who leads her to believe military life will provide the "family" she seeks. He also tells her that the service is glamorous, comparing it to a spa vacation. She has a rude awakening upon arriving in boot camp. Judy wants to quit almost immediately, and is astonished to learn that she cannot, contrary to the assertions of her recruiting sergeant.
Army regulations and the continuing disapproval of Captain Lewis (Eileen Brennan) frustrate her, but when Judy's parents arrive at Fort Biloxi to take her home, she decides to stay and finish basic training, which she does with distinction after a wargames exercise. Upon completion of basic training, Judy meets Henri Tremont (Armand Assante), a dashing French doctor, who is in Biloxi for a medical conference. They separate after a brief romance, Henri returns to Paris and Judy enters training for the Thornbirds, an elite paratrooper unit after basic training. She quickly finds that she was chosen because the unit's commander finds her attractive; he attempts to sexually assault her. When she refuses, he attempts to have her transferred as far away from Biloxi as possible. Rather than accept what she sees as an undesirable post in Greenland or Guam, she negotiates an assignment to SHAPE in Belgium, and meets up with Henri again on a visit to Paris. He proposes marriage and she accepts, but when Capt. Lewis discovers that Tremont is a communist, Judy is forced to choose either her Army career or love.
After she chooses Henri and gets engaged, Judy discovers Henri's controlling side. He tries to "remake" her, and also forces her to sign a prenuptial agreement in his favor. Then, when she finds out Henri is still in love with his ex-girlfriend, Clare, and has cheated on her with their maid, she realizes that she is capable of doing whatever she wants, and that she does not need Henri in her life. She walks out on him at the altar to go and live her own life.
- Goldie Hawn as Judy Benjamin
- Eileen Brennan as Doreen Lewis
- Armand Assante as Henri Alan Tremont
- Robert Webber as Colonel Clay Thornbush
- Sam Wanamaker as Teddie Benjamin, Judy's father
- Barbara Barrie as Harriet Benjamin, Judy's mother
- Mary Kay Place as Private/2nd Lieutenant Mary Lou Glass
- Harry Dean Stanton as 1st Sergeant Jim Ballard
- Hal Williams as Sergeant L.C. Ross
- P.J. Soles as Private Wanda Winter
- Craig T. Nelson as Captain William Woodbridge
- Albert Brooks as Yale Goodman
- Alan Oppenheimer as Rabbi
- Toni Kalem as Private Gianelli
- Damita Jo Freeman as Private Gloria Moe
- Alston Ahern as Private P.J. Soyer
- Lee Wallace as Mr. Waxman
- Danny Wells as Slick Guy
Awards and nominations
Private Benjamin was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Goldie Hawn), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Eileen Brennan) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.
American Film Institute recognition
- 2000: AFI's 100 Years... 100 Laughs #82
In 1981, Private Benjamin was made into an Emmy and Golden Globe–winning television series of the same name starring Lorna Patterson, Eileen Brennan, Hal Williams, Lisa Raggio, Wendie Jo Sperber and Joel Brooks (it originally aired 1981–1983). Brennan and Williams had reprised their roles, that of Captain Doreen Lewis and Sergeant L.C. Ross, from the film for the television series.
In March 2010, Anna Faris was originally cast to portray Judy Benjamin in a remake of Private Benjamin from New Line Cinema, but in May 2014, it was confirmed that Rebel Wilson will portray Benjamin in the remake. Amy Talkington is in talks to write the script and Mark Gordon is set to produce.
The new take will set the story in contemporary times with modern wars as the backdrop. Insiders say the studio does not want to poke fun at the people in the service or take political potshots, but rather focus on the empowerment elements and build on the fish-out-of-water comedy.
- "Private Tutor". Infoplease.com. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "Bravo's "100 Funniest Movies" on Lists of Bests". Listsofbests.com. 2006-06-02. Retrieved 2011-03-27.
- "Anna Faris to star in 'Private Benjamin' remake (exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
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