Goldie Hawn, in Private Benjamin
A sheltered young high society woman joins the army on a whim and finds herself in a more difficult situation than she ever expected.
You can find my short review of the film just by clicking HERE.
A fun movie that I’ve always liked! Seen by many as superficial, indeed the film doesn’t set too many challenges. But I think it’s nicely balanced and the second, more serious part is necessary to define the trajectory of the leading character.
Goldie Hawn as Judy Benjamin
A leading comedy performance usually needs a weak category to make it to the final 5. It almost doesn’t even have to do with the quality of the performance. We know voters look at Drama actresses first and then, depending on their soft side or how competitive the field is or how famous the actress is, they might consider Comedy. Goldie Hawn was one of those lucky gals! With Private Benjamin, she had weak competition, charming personality, a well-settled comedic career AND a very worthy performance.
Goldie stars as Judy Benjamin, a very unlucky recent-widow, a lazy spoiled woman who is confronted with a life-changing experience: being in the army! Just like the movie itself, the role isn’t too complicated. The changes in the character are presented in a very unsubtle way, so what the screenplay doesn’t offer is MOSTLY demanded from the actress. The big word: charisma! For the movie to work, you need someone who knows comedy timing and is sweet enough not to get bored looking at her! And Goldie has what it takes!
The first half of the movie is pure silliness and a lot of situation comedy! Goldie is perfect at that and I subjectively admit I could never get enough looking at her! She’s pretty, she’s sweet, and likeable and adorable! And this helps! There’s no one who could hold a comedy scene like she does and, watching her acting the silly lines, I could only imagine how fascinating she would’ve been in a 1930s screwball comedy era! She takes a scene like looking up and cursing her dead husband and she makes it the funniest thing ever! :)
Her constant complaining is so deliciously funny, you can’t help but liking Judy! Even when she’s crying, it’s presented in a funny light, so the comedy isn’t thrown off balance. Goldie somehow manages to add more to the character and there’s often a look or a small gesture that hints the occasional drama of the character; fortunately, that supports the movie, without replacing the lightness of it.
When things go romantic in the second part, she doesn’t get more serious in the standard way! What Goldie does is to move the comedy from the situational army wackiness to the fool in love perspective. She is more grounded, but at the same time lost in this romance which feels uncomfortable even from the beginning. Goldie is fun as the cheated fiancé, with crazy red hair and a bit washed-up, but again manages to show a human side as she feels her life slowly becomes pointless.
I love Goldie! And I think this is one of her best performances! She gets to do lots of situation comedy and she’s perfect at it! She’s sweet and very natural and represents at least 90% of the film’s success! It’s all based on her unquestionable charisma! And she also gets to be a romantic lead, to slowly underline the woman who gives up her career and then finds little purpose in her new existence! And at the end of it all, it looks so effortless! .