review for The Private War of Major Benson on AllMovie

The Private War of Major Benson (1955)
by Craig Butler review

An amiable if unspectacular formula comedy, The Private War of Major Benson at least gives Charlton Heston one of his rare shots at comedy. And surprisingly, Heston is pretty good here. Certainly, it helps that the character of Benson is one that emphasizes the macho, hard-headed, stubborn side of the actor. That he is able to play this as easily for laughs as he is for drama is fortunate indeed, and it gives Benson a great deal of fun. Of course, Benson ultimately has to change – this is a comedy, after all – and Heston does very well in making the change of heart believable as well. He also has a nice rapport with co-star Julie Adams, which is not always the case with his love interests. For her part, Adams is aces here; a very talented and attractive actress, she somehow didn't have the right spark to become a star, but she usually turned in very good performances, and this is one of her best. The supporting cast, including little Tim Hovey, crusty William Demarest and sensitive Sal Mineo, are also quite good. Where Benson falls down is in the script. It's lively and amusing enough, but it's predictable, trite, often unbelievable and sometimes just plain sappy. Jerry Hopper's direction is adequate, but a stronger hand was needed to raise the film above the limitations of the script. Even with its flaws, Benson is still enjoyable.