An adaptation of Peter Nichols' play which continues the strange British love affair with National Service, the Far East, and tatty theatrical camp, rolling them all together in a thin excuse for a plot: a troupe of virgin soldiers trek around up-country Malaysia, doing Carmen Miranda impressions to audiences of blank-faced Gurkhas, and getting caught in the crossfire between Communists, the locals, and their own sergeant's gun-running activities. A few laughs, a few tears; something palatable is being said about the state of the nation. Through it all strides Cleese, barking his familiar brand of pop-eyed, cheerful racism to cover the unmistakable air of a man fighting a losing battle. But it's all rather wan; the sensibilities remain stubbornly theatrical, and the English countryside resolutely refuses to stand in for the Malaysian jungle. CPea.
Privates on Parade
Cast and crew