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Devastated when her brand-new husband Albert Brooks) drops dead on their wedding night, Jewish American princess Judy Benjamin (Goldie Hawn) is receptive to the pitch delivered by a duplicitous recruiter for the Women's Army Corps.
Quickly adivsed by topkick Captain Lewis (Eileen Brennan) that she should not look forward to the private room, fancy clothes and sauna bath that she'd been promised, Judy is forced to go through basic training like any other grunt.
This turns out to be a real growth experience for the pampered Private Benjamin, who for the first time in her life has to work for her privileges. A brief misadventure with a lascivious paratroop officer (Robert Webber) nearly sours Judy on army life, but she turns out to be a darned good soldier-and a woman with a highly developed sense of self-esteem, which enables her to weather a further disappointing romantic fling with French phsycian Henri Tremont (Armand Assante).
Private Benjamin turned out to be one of Goldie Hawn's most profitable vehicles. The 1981-82 TV sitcom spinoff starred Lorna Patterson in Goldie's role, with Eileen Brennan repeating her film characterization of the long-suffering Captain Lewis.