Private Benjamin (1980) Poster

Private Benjamin (1980)

  • Rate: 5.9/10 total 13,994 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | War
  • Release Date: 10 October 1980 (USA)
  • Runtime: 109 min
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Private Benjamin (1980)


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  • IMDb page: Private Benjamin (1980)
  • Rate: 5.9/10 total 13,994 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | War
  • Release Date: 10 October 1980 (USA)
  • Runtime: 109 min
  • Filming Location: Angel's Gate Park – 3601 Gaffey Street, San Pedro, Los Angeles, California, USA
  • Budget: $10,000,000 (estimated)
  • Gross: $69,800,000 (USA)
  • Director: Howard Zieff
  • Stars: Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, Armand Assante | See full cast and crew »
  • Original Music By: Bill Conti   
  • Soundtrack: Down by the Riverside
  • Sound Mix: Stereo
  • Plot Keyword: Army | NATO | Wedding Night | Wedding | 1980s

Writing Credits By:

  • Nancy Meyers (written by) &
  • Charles Shyer (written by) &
  • Harvey Miller (written by)

Known Trivia

  • According to Goldie Hawn’s memoirs, Arthur Hiller was first choice to direct, but pulled out of the project. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • P.J. Soles had to audition for the film wearing a dark wig as Goldie Hawn didn’t want another blonde to feature in the production. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Goldie Hawn signed onto Private Benjamin in June 1979 and went through boot camp training for six weeks. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Almost one hundred sets at the Burbank Studio were built for this picture’s production. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Off-duty service men and women were used as extras for the war games and basic training sequences as the replica basic training course was so authentic. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • This movie was the first ever movie screenplay especially written and tailored for actress Goldie Hawn. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Part of a mini-cycle of Hollywood movies made during the early 1980s centering around military cadet training. The pictures include Taps, Stripes, Private Benjamin, Up the Academy, The Lords of Discipline and An Officer and a Gentleman. Then the mid-late 1980s saw a few more: Cadence, Biloxi Blues, Heartbreak Ridge and Full Metal Jacket. 1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Judy discovers another woman’s jewelry in her bed and accuses her fiancĂ© of cheating on her. The same thing happens to Goldie Hawn’s character in Shampoo. 0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • The poster and the video art for the movie is a parody of the poster for All Quiet on the Western Front 0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |
  • Penelope Spheeris was offered the chance to direct. 0 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? YesNo |

Goofs: Factual errors: Turkish Army officer in NATO HQ is portrayed with a mustache. However, Turkish army personnel are forbidden to grow a mustache. They are obliged to shave everyday. Hence, a Turkish army officer with a mustache or facial hair is not possible.

Plot: A sheltered young high society woman joins the army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected. Full summary » |  »

Story: When her husband dies in the wedding night Judy decides to join the army. What looks like a bad decision at first, turns out not so bad at all. That is, until her superior makes sexual advances. She is transferred to NATO headquarters in Europe and (re)meets the Frenchman Henri. Judy and Henri decide to marry, but will they ? Written byBerend Meijer <>

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Goldie Hawn known as executive producer
  • Nancy Meyers known as producer
  • Harvey Miller known as producer
  • Charles Shyer known as producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Goldie Hawn known as Pvt. Judy Benjamin – Judy Goodman
  • Eileen Brennan known as Capt. Doreen Lewis
  • Armand Assante known as Henri Alan Tremont
  • Robert Webber known as Col. Clay Thornbush
  • Sam Wanamaker known as Teddy Benjamin
  • Barbara Barrie known as Harriet Benjamin
  • Mary Kay Place known as Pvt. Mary Lou Glass
  • Harry Dean Stanton known as 1st Sgt. Jim Ballard
  • Albert Brooks known as Yale Goodman
  • Alan Oppenheimer known as Rabbi
  • Estelle Marlov known as Vocalist at Wedding
  • Everett Covin known as Bandleader
  • Robert Hanley known as Arnie
  • Lee Wallace known as Mr. Waxman
  • James Dybas known as Photographer
  • Gretchen Wyler known as Aunt Kissy
  • Maxine Stuart known as Aunt Betty
  • Lillian Adams known as Mrs. Goodman
  • Sandy Weintraub known as Harvey Goodman
  • Tim Haldeman known as Stanley Goodman
  • Kopi Sotiropulos known as Limo Passerby
  • Stu Nahan known as Newscaster
  • J.P. Bumstead known as Induction Officer
  • Hal Williams known as Sgt. L.C. Ross
  • Toni Kalem known as Pvt. Gianelli
  • Damita Jo Freeman known as Pvt. Gloria Moe
  • Alston Ahern known as Pvt. P.J. Soyer
  • P.J. Soles known as Pvt. Wanda Winter
  • Craig T. Nelson known as Capt. William Woodbridge
  • James R. Barnett known as Drill Instructor
  • Ray Oliver known as Red Team Soldier #1
  • Robin Hoff known as Red Team Soldier #2
  • Ed Lewis known as Red Team Soldier #3
  • Carrol Davis Carson known as Referee
  • Clay Wright known as Helicopter Pilot (as Clayton D. Wright)
  • Danny Wells known as Slick Guy
  • Keone Young known as Kim Osaka
  • George Roberts known as Johnny Rourke
  • Helen Baron known as Selma Lemish
  • Paul Marin known as Leo Lemish
  • Mimi Maynard known as Liz Lemish
  • Alice Hirson known as Mrs. Thornbush
  • Wil Albert known as Lt. Rahmi
  • Richard Herd known as Brig. Gen. Foley
  • Sally Kirkland known as Helga
  • Denise Halma known as Gabrielle
  • Lilyan Chauvin known as Mrs. Tremont
  • David Olivier known as Jean Claude
  • Elie Liardet known as Mayor
  • Allison Caine known as Additional Voice (uncredited)
  • Stéphane Grappelli known as Wedding Violinist (uncredited)
  • Jack Griffin known as Drill Sgt (uncredited)
  • Heather Haase known as Young Judy Goodman (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:

  • Kathryn Blondell known as hair stylist
  • Rita Bordonaro known as hair stylist
  • E. Thomas Case known as makeup artist
  • Ricardo Romero Jones known as makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Harold Broner known as construction coordinator
  • Paul De Santis known as assistant property master
  • Serge Douy known as art director: France
  • Jeffrey Howard known as assistant art director
  • Sherman Labby known as production illustrator
  • Bill MacSems known as property master




Production Companies:

  • Warner Bros.


  • Warner Bros. (1980) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1982) (USA) (TV) (broadcast premiere)
  • Argentina Video Home (Argentina) (video)
  • Home Box Office (HBO) (1981) (USA) (TV)
  • Movie Channel (1981) (USA) (TV)
  • ON-TV (1981) (USA) (TV)
  • Showtime Networks (1981) (USA) (TV) (as Showtime Entertainment)
  • Warner Home Video (USA) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (USA) (VHS)
  • Warner Home Vídeo (Brazil) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Vídeo (Brazil) (VHS)
  • Z Channel (1981) (USA) (TV)



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

Private Benjamin (1980) Related Movie & DVD Releases

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Posted on November 17, 2013 by Movies DVD New Releases Blu-ray in Movies | Tags: , .


  1. Neil Doyle from U.S.A.
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    Thanks mainly to a clever script and the presence of GOLDIE HAWN andEILEEN BRENNAN, this is the kind of service comedy that brings backreminders of how this sort of thing was done back in the '40s withcomedies like SEE HERE, PRIVATE HARGROVE or YOU'RE IN THE ARMY NOW orBUCK PRIVATES.

    But this time, it's a woman enlistee who has to go through the rigorsof boot camp (arguably, the best segments in the whole film and thefunniest). Goldie is a spoiled rich girl who thinks the Army is goingto be a respite from her problems as a woman who lost her husband onher wedding night. She's in for quite a learning experience and thegags come fast and furious for the first half-hour or so.

    Then, when romance enters the story, it becomes rather uneven as shehas an affair with a Frenchman, ARMAND ASSANTE, who turns out to be afirst-class heel. By the end of the film, she decides to re-enlistrather than return to the civilian life she found so empty.

    It's a decidedly uneven comedy, but Goldie's perfect comic timing andability to switch gears when romance is called for, shows she had moredimension as an actress than anyone suspected. She was nominated for anOscar for her Private Benjamin–and Eileen Brennan, hilarious as Capt.Doreen Lewis won a supporting role nomination.

    Goldie's fans should love this one; and after all, it's not supposed tobe taken seriously, it's all done tongue-in-cheek style.

  2. doeadear from California
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    What I’ve always enjoyed about this film is that, once you get past alltheslapstick and Jewish American Princess jokes, you find the story of asheltered young woman seeking her identity and independence. Judy Benjaminhas been raised in a very coddled existence, believing she can do nothing,and that her only value is to be someone’s wife, or attached to a personinsome way. When her husband dies on her wedding night, she foolishly joinsthe army, where her inability is played for laughs. But this is not whatthefilm is really about, in the long run. When her parents come to retrieveher, Barbara Barrie as Judy’s mom is literally holding the pen, showingJudywhere to sign. To me, this scene is very believable. It’s as if Judyfinallyrealizes that she has set herself up to fail. She decides to stay andprovesthat she can do a good job, she just believed she couldn’t.

    Perhaps my perspective is different because I saw this film first in 1980when I was 18 years old, but I still enjoy it to this day. I can overlookthe portions that are not very PC by today’s standards. It was, after all,adifferent world then. I find Goldie Hawn’s performance to have great comictiming and believability. Eileen Brennan is memorable in her role, eventhough it is a bit stereotypical by today’s standards. Barbara Barrie andSam Wanamaker are hilarious as Judy’s parents, and Robert Webber isunforgettable as Col. Clay Thornbush. I will always enjoy this film,perhapsalways from a different viewpoint.

  3. budmassey ( from Indianapolis, IN
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    Hawn's string of successes in the 1980's, Swing Shift, Overboard,Protocol, Seems Like Old Times, and Private Benjamin, are among myfavorite comedies of all time. She has timing, presence, and charactergalore, and this one may just be at the top of my Goldie Hawn list.

    The cast is extraordinary. Eileen Brennan is a showstopper as the,shall we say, less than feminine company commander and Benjamin'snemesis, but that's not the start of it. There's an embarrassment oftalent here. Craig T. Nelson as the amorous Capt. Woodbridge, ArmandAssante as the even more amorous Henri Tremont who sexes Benjamin up,and the still more amorous Albert Brooks, the husband who dies sexingher up, are all stellar. But Sam Wanamaker (see The Competition) andRobert Webber (both sadly deceased) are male role models who may notexactly set the bar very high as father figures, but add a delightfulpseudo-machismo as counterpoint to all the talented women.

    Mary Kay Place seems so young as a fellow recruit, even more so than inMary Hartman, Mary Hartman, which is a nice segue to the fact thatthis, like many Hawn movies, draws from a distinguished televisionpedigree to deliver its surprising success.

    This is one of those perfect little movies that I pull out of the DVDcloset several times a year like visiting with an old friend, and itjust occurred to me why. It's not nihilistic or deconstructionist ormulti-plotted or any of the other crap that has supplanted story anddialog in too many movies since. It's sad that the only availableversion of the DVD is in pan and scan, as with some other great moviesof this era, but I keep hoping for a widescreen release.

    Favorite Line: "There are mine fields out there. Most of them areinert. However, some are ert." My recommendation: Enlist with Judy. Youcould use a good laugh.

  4. Kristine ( from Chicago, Illinois
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    Gosh, I don't know how many times I passed this movie up in my mom'scollection. But I never really had an interest in this film, but my momtold me what a great comedy it was and that I should give it a chance.So, finally, today I got some time and watched it and I'm glad I did.Private Benjamin is a great comedy staring then new comer Goldie Hawn.I didn't realize how much she was meant for comedy, I've seen some ofher work like Overboard and Death Becomes her, but usually she has thesupporting cast helping her in the comedy, this time she was on her ownand did great.

    She plays Judy Benjamin, a 29 year old whose been married twice, herlast husband died on her, literally, had a heart attack while he wasmaking love to her. So, since she has always been taken care of, astranger helps her out and recruits her in the army showing her theAFTERMATH of what she could have in the future, but she thinks thatshe's getting all the good stuff immediately. Therefore, she becomesthe princess of the boot camp, but after a harsh talk with her folks,she realizes she needs the army and to become strong. She ends upmeeting a suave French man and gets transferred to Paris aftergraduation, but she soon realizes who she needs most in life: herself.

    Private Benjamin is a great comedy that I think anyone could get alittle kick out of. It has great jokes and fun moments that I had agood time watching. Not to mention, Goldie Hawn is just so adorable andyou definitely want to keep rooting for her during the film, she's justgreat.


  5. TrevorAclea from London, England
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    The service comedy is a genre almost as old as cinema itself and,whether it's Charlie Chaplin or Victor McLaglen and Edmund Lowe in thetrenches, Andy Griffith befuddling his sergeants, the Carry On team onthe assault course or Steve Guttenberg and co at the Police Academy,has an almost immutable formula that is never, ever departed from:through mildly comic misadventure misfit(s) find themselves in thearmy/navy/air force/police force, are hopelessly unprepared for theharsh realities of basic training, fumble every task yet somehow comeout of it all as the perfect soldier/sailor/airman/cop and provethemselves in a mildly comic baptism of fire. Private Benjamin doesabsolutely nothing to fix what ain't broke, contenting itself to offerthe odd slight tweak and flavoring with a mild dose of Jewish humor asGoldie Hawn's sheltered princess finds herself talked into joining the'new' army by Harry Dean Stanton's smooth-talking recruiting sergeantafter husband Albert Brooks dies in the throes of passion before thehoneymoon even starts ("Do you remember what the last thing he saidwas?"] asks his distraught mother, eliciting the reply "I'm coming.").

    While it's a given that there are no surprises whatsoever, it's one ofthose comedies that manages to be pretty consistently funny throughouteven if there aren't many really big laughs out of sheer likability.Hawn's character is not too bright but not too Hilton with it – hercharacter arc is not just from dependence to self-reliance but moreimportantly from not being able to understand why Jill Clayburgh walkedout on Alan Bates in An Unmarried Woman to being able to make the samechoice herself, in the process tackling sexism rather more effectivelythan G.I. Jane did 17 years later. Eileen Brennan is clearly having aball as the obligatory sadistic training officer out to make her lifehell and there's a quietly impressive supporting cast filling out theranks as well as a memorable Bill Conti score. It only really missesits step slightly in the scenes where her Monsieur Right (ArmandAssante) rather clumsily turns out to be Monsieur Wrong at the end, asif afraid of losing the audience's sympathy long after she's won themover, but not enough to squander the goodwill it's earned by then.

  6. Gordon-11 from Earth
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    This film is about a unfortunate young lady whose husband dies on theirwedding night. She copes with her sorrow by mistakenly enlisting in theUnited States army.

    "Private Benjamin" is very funny! Even the film is already thirty yearsold, the jokes are timeless. The scene that Goldie Hawn explaining thatshe is sent to the wrong army is hilarious. Well, actually the wholesection about her adjusting to the fact that Army life is not a holidayis hilarious. Even though I have seen similar story lines before, it isstill hilarious. If only all the comedies stood the test of time like"Private Benjamin"!

  7. ( from Philadelphia
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    Many reviewers here have compared this movie to Stripes, which came outthe following year. Beyond the fact of the Army setting, and theparticipation of P.J. Soles, I see nothing in common between thisthoughtful and well-acted production, and Stripes, an unfunny,undisciplined farcial bore. On its own merits, Private Benjamindevelops characters you can care about (or hate), shows significantmetamorphosis of the title character, and plays out countless funnyscenes and situations.

    The war-games scenario has been done and done endlessly (ref. The DirtyDozen, etc), but is played for humor here with great success. EileenBrennan is the CO everyone loves to hate, and gets her comeuppance morethan once in PB, to the audience's delight.

    Support is solidified with performances by P.J. Soles, Albert Brooks,Harry Dean Stanton, Robert Webber, Craig T. Nelson, and, perhaps bestof all, Sam Wanamaker as Judy Benjamin's doting yet controlling father.

    The final portion of the movie involves our heroine conceivingmatrimony with a slick and caddish French gynecologist, played toperfection by Armand Assante. This culminates in our being treated toan ending that leaves the world wide open to Judy, thanks to her Armyexperience of maturing and self-discovery.

    A good choice for viewing any time.

  8. Martin Bradley ( from Derry, Ireland
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    There are millions of comedies like "Private Benjamin". They are likeTV shows that turn out the same joke week after week, (and "PrivateBenjamin" itself turned into a TV show). The best ones work and stay inthe memory, not because the jokes are great, (though sometimes theyare), but because the players are good and can develop the charactersbeyond the mere limitations of the gag. ("Frasier" and "The GoldenGirls" fall into this category).

    The jokes in "Private Benjamin" are not particularly original but theyare funny, and they are funny because there is a near-great comedienneat the heart of Howard Zieff’s film. With the right director GoldieHawn’s kookie, goof-ball wooziness was just about perfect and Zieffbrings it out. Her character is the kind of woman who needs a goodshaking, (Bette Davis would have made mincemeat out of her), but youlove her all the same. At least until she starts making a fool ofherself with Armand Assante’s French sleaze-ball and the film losesit’s comic momentum.

    There is at least one other grand-standing comic turn from EileenBrennan as Hawn’s drill sergeant. Brennan’s like a slightly butcher MaeWest, (I think we’re meant to assume she’s a lesbian), and she givesher lines the kind of inflection that West did. Between them they raisethe ante on this one.

  9. SmileysWorld from United States
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    When it comes to comedy,there are many every day situations that aregood fodder to build on.The military is one of them.You can take anendless list of comedic performers and,when examined,the whole idea ofany of them being in the military is hysterical.Goldie Hawn isdefinitely on that list.Now,you need to surround her with the rightpeople to make the idea work.Mission:Accomplished.Hawn's talents werecomplimented well in this film and we have ourselves a gem of amilitary comedy.While not the best ever made,it certainly is among thebest.It has moments about midway where it drags just a little,but notenough to damage the overall viewing experience.

  10. TOMASBBloodhound from Omaha, NE USA
    17 Nov 2013, 4:54 am

    Goldie Hawn is absolutely adorable in this, perhaps her signature role.Goldie plays Judy Benjamin, a spoiled young Jewish woman who we firstsee at her second wedding. Judy is in her late twenties, and has doneseemingly nothing of importance in her life. Her father is onlyinterested in her finding the right guy so he doesn't have to supporther anymore. It seems she has found at least a successful husband in aman named Yale. (Albert Brooks) Yale seems like kind of a sleaze, butat least he has a good job as a divorce attorney, and Judy will atleast be able to live off him for the rest of her life… it wouldoriginally appear. Those plans are shattered 15 minutes into the filmwhen Yale dies while the two are having sex on their bathroom floor.Having nowhere else to turn, after an eight day bought of self-pity,Judy lets a charming army recruiter talk her into enlisting. Quitesimply put, things are never the same for Judy Benjamin ever again.

    The middle of this movie deals with the now Pvt. Benjamin stumblingthrough basic training. The concept of a misfit having trouble in thissituation has been done many, many times throughout the history offilms. There are indeed some laughs, but nothing like you find withBill Murray in Stripes, for example. Eileen Brennan is outstanding asCapt. Doreen Lewis who is out for Benjamin's scalp from day one. Shegets some of the best lines, and the more we find out about her, thestranger her character appears to us. We also see Benjamin have to dealwith a Colonel who tries to rape her at 13,000 ft. during a skydivingexercise. Through it all, Hawn shines like…. well… gold, I suppose.She is beautiful, funny, and she adds a new layer of dignity to hercharacter with every scene.

    The final half hour deals with Judy Benjamin going back to life as aprivate citizen after having to quit the army. She is first transferredto a base in France, then moves in with a Gynecologist whom she had aone night stand with during a weekend leave earlier in the film. Itseems this doctor had previously joined the Communist Party to impressa former lover, and the Army makes Benjamin choose between him or them.This gynecologist, wonderfully played by Armand Assante, is pretty mucha paper scarecrow. He obviously is not faithful, he wants her to sign apre-nup before they get married, and basically tries to run her life.Considering how much she has changed since the film's outset, you cansee the conclusion coming from a mile away.

    Overall, this is a pretty good film. Not as funny as others dealingwith misfits in the Army, but still funny enough. Hawn is good enoughto make us care about her not only as a soldier, but also as a personbefore and after her stint in the military. Great supporting castmembers also add to the film's charm.

    The final shot is memorable, but a little puzzling. After removing herveil and tossing it to the wind, Judy Benjamin walks off into thedistance in her wedding dress. Just where in the heck was she headed?The airport? 8 of 10 stars.

    The Hound.

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