15Private Benjamin

Goldie Hawn in Private Benjamin

Goldie Hawn was nominated for an Oscar for her role as the title character in Private Benjamin; the film is romantic and comedic, though it is a major disservice to dismiss this 1980 masterpiece as just another "romantic comedy." After the worst wedding night ever (which we

dare not spoil here), young Judy Benjamin, in an effort to bring structure into her life, decides (or rather, she is tricked by Harry Dean Stanton) to join the army. She immediately hates it and tries to leave, but eventually acclimates and finds herself legitimately independent for the first time in her life. Eventually, she finds love with a handsome French doctor, played by Armand Assante, and is ultimately forced to choose between her military career or a seemingly storybook romance.

Romance isn't all it's cracked up to be, however, and Private Benjamin is legendary for subverting the fairy tale love story the film seemed to be building towards. Judy ultimately realizes that her would-be Prince Charming is actually kind of a jerk, and she is better off leaving him and respecting herself, rather than becoming a mere prize for some wannabe patriarch. A woman doesn't need a man to experience a full life, or vice-versa; happiness doesn't come from servitude, but from living independently.

Jack Lemmon & Walter Matthau in The Odd Couple
Next 14 The Odd Couple

More in Lists