Private Benjamin (1980)

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Released 10-Aug-1999

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Comedy None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1980
Running Time 105:20
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Programme
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Howard Zieff
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Goldie Hawn
Eileen Brennan
Armand Assante
Robert Webber
Sam Wanamaker
Barbara Barrie
Mary Kay Place
Harry Dean Stanton
Albert Brooks
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $24.95 Music Bill Conti


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Italian
Dutch
Arabic
Spanish
Portuguese
English for the Hearing Impaired
Italian for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, during credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    This movie has been out on DVD since 1999, but we hadn't reviewed it...until now. Now that I've watched it, I'm a little surprised - it is a better DVD than I expected.

    Private Benjamin is the story of Judy Benjamin - a classic Jewish American Princess who is conned into joining the army after the death of her second husband on their wedding night. We follow her through basic training, an abortive attempt to join an elite paratroop corps, through her "ideal job" (purchasing), to her final realization of what she really wants. There is nothing particularly deep and meaningful about this movie, and it is probably bereft of social implications, but it is moderately entertaining, and will do you no harm. Goldie Hawn is probably the best actress for a waif (although I do like Audrey Hepburn), and this script calls for what she does best.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This video transfer is really quite good, particularly considering the age of the movie. The first 20 minutes are a bit softer than I'd like, but then the picture sharpens up and we get good quality video through to the end.

    The transfer is described on the DVD's cover as 1.85:1, 4:3. This is incorrect - it is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. I prefer it when the disc has better specs than the cover promises. Ed. I prefer it when the cover doesn't have errors.

    As I mentioned, the start of the film is a bit soft, with a moment or two of visible edge enhancement, but it sharpens up and the remainder of the movie is rather good. There some fairly grainy aerial footage of Brussels at around 76:08, but that didn't bother me - you don't need to pick out the buildings. Shadow detail is never all that strong, but most of the film takes place in brightly-lit places, so that's not a big issue. Low level noise is never a problem.

    Colours are fine, neither under- nor over-saturated.

    I saw no MPEG artefacts, and few film artefacts - this was transferred from a very clean print. There are a couple of instances of telecine wobble, but they shouldn't trouble you unless you're looking quite hard.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on this DVD, all Dolby Digital mono, in English, French, and Italian; English is default. Can't fault Warners for giving us the original theatrical soundtrack. Given that this is a dialogue-driven movie, mono is OK.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and readily understood. The exception was a few lines from Armand Assante, who was playing a strong French accent - those lines were a little too quiet to be understood.

    I saw no audio sync problems.

    The music, by Bill Conti, was reasonable - not one of his finest efforts, but perfectly acceptable, if a little predictable.

    Given the Dolby Digital 1.0 soundtrack, I was unsurprised that my surrounds and subwoofer took the night off.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Let's look at the list of Special Features on the cover: interactive menus, uh-huh, scene access, right, languages, OK, subtitles, gotcha. Hmmm, the list's stopped. Oh. There are no extras on this disc. Nil, nada, nuthin'. Not even the trailer.

Menu

    The menu is static, silent, and quite purple. It has three choices: jump to a scene, languages, and play movie. It is clear enough, and easy to operate. That's about all you can say for it.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on:     The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on:     I'd say we won this one - a snapper case holding a Pan & Scan NTSC version of the movie doesn't measure up to a 16x9 enhanced widescreen version in PAL, especially when the PAL version is in an Amaray case.

Summary

    If you like Private Benjamin, then this disc is a reasonable purchase. You don't get anything other than the movie, though.

    The video starts out soft, but improves.

    The audio is the original theatrical mono soundtrack.

    There are no extras.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Saturday, April 21, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPL-VW10HT LCD Projector, ScreenTechnics matte white screen with a gain of 1.0 (280cm). Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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