Henry Hobson is a successful bootmaker, a widower and a tyrannical father of three daughters. The girls each want to leave their father by getting married, but Henry refuses because marriage traditions require him to pay out settlements.
Noel Coward's attempt to show how the ordinary people lived between the wars. Just after WWI the Gibbons family moves to a nice house in the suburbs. An ordinary sort of life is led by the ... See full summary »
1880s Salford, England. Widowed Henry Hobson, owner/operator of Hobson's Boots, lives with his three adult daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vicky, in a flat attached to the shop. Henry is miserly, dipsomaniacal and tyrannical, not allowing his daughters to date as their sole purpose in life is in service to him and to the shop, they who receive no wages in that professional service. He changes his mind about Alice and Vicky, for who he will choose husbands, despite they, the romantic ones, already having chosen the men they would marry if given the opportunity. He will, however, not provide them with a dowry, which may prove to be a challenge in finding them who he would consider suitable husbands. Concerning Maggie, he believes she is far too useful to him as the overly efficient and organized one to let go, and too old at age thirty for any man to want her anyway. Incensed by her father's attitude about her, Maggie decides that she has to show him how wrong he is about her being an ... Written by
In the early scenes, when Freddie Beenstock's father is eyeballing Jim Heeler and Henry Hobson, through his window, on their way to Moonraker's Pub, the "Beenstock & Sons" lettering is painted on the middle panes of the colonial type windows and are aligned with Mr. Beenstock's chest and waist. Just a few frames later, when Freddie joins him, the lettering has moved to the top panes and is aligned with their heads. See more »
A far cry from the pomp and spectacle of Lean's later, grandiose productions, this gently romantic comedy of manners is based on Harold Brighouse's 1915 play, and sits alongside Great Expectations and Brief Encounter as one of the best films he made in black and white. Lean's restrained direction allows the sparkling scripts pithy banter plenty of room to breathe, whilst deftly avoiding the static wordiness inherent to most stage for screen adaptations.
At its core, Hobson's Choice has a towering performance by Charles Laughton, whose Henry Hobson is a marvelous mixture of snarling brute and whimpering child, huffing and sputtering his way through scene after scene of delightfully sexist dialogue. Crucially however, Laughton resists the temptation to go over the top, instead keeping his Hobson firmly on the plausible side of caricature, thus ensuring that the pathos of this potentially unlikeable character remains firmly intact, and whilst we eagerly await his comeuppance, we never lose sympathy for the curmudgeonly old fogey. Also outstanding is Brenda De Banzie as the long suffering but incredibly strong willed Maggie, an amazingly strong female character, made all the more remarkable given that the film has its origins in a text now 90 years old.
The crisp black and white photography, courtesy of Jack Hildyard(who also collaborated with Lean on his epic Bridge on the River Kwai) is stunning, beautifully capturing the grimy charm of its Victorian setting, and giving a vivid sense of gritty imtimacy to the dank interiors. Scenes featuring a drunken Hobson are gloriously realised, and gives rise to one of the films most enduring images, that of Hobson attacking the moons reflection in a puddle. Likewise, production design is impeccable, the crews recreation of Victorian era Salford even stretched to Lean throwing rubbish into the river Irwell(the council, on hearing that a film was to be made on location there, spared no expense clearing the riverbanks and water of any such refuse the week before cast and crew arrived, oblivious to the fact that this disarray was precisely the reason Lean and co. had chosen to shoot there).
This amiable comedy is often overlooked in favour of Leans more epic works, but to dismiss it out of hand as something the director cut his teeth on before moving on to better and brighter things would be a grave error. Its unassuming nature, and admittedly slightly saggy third act aside, it's a film with considerable charm, wit, eccentric characters and some hilarious set pieces.
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