Much of the irony and subtlety of Leslie Thomas’s novel have been ironed out in favor of a broader approach to the humor. Nevertheless, The Virgin Soldiers comes out as a bright and affectionate peek at the trials and tribulations of young National Service rookies.
Though the writers have concentrated mainly on making the film ruefully funny, the serious side has not been neglected. The smell of death is often just around the corner and violence in the jungle and streets of terrorist-infested Malaya is in striking, effective contrast to the boisterous, bawdy, barrack-room atmosphere.
Acting all around is first rate, though only a few characters are allowed to develop.
Redgrave as the sulky heroine has her moments but creates no sympathy and, in fact, is mainly dull, but Tsai Chin makes joyful capital out of her small but lively role as the local prostie.