Henry Hobson is a successful bootmaker and tyrannical widower of three daughters. The girls each want to leave their father by getting married, but Henry refuses as marriage traditions require him to pay out settlements.
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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 & Son"s 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 »
Charles Laughton plays an alcoholic widower (and happy about it) with three adult daughters. The oldest of them, Maggie (Brenda de Banzie), is 30, and the other two are (I would guess) in their early 20s. He wants to marry off the younger two, but the eldest he finds useful to his bootmaking business. "You're too old," he tells her when she asks about her turn to be married. Well, Laughton has raised his daughter to be too shrewd for his own good! When faced with her father's challenge, she lands a fiancé within an hour. He is Willie Mossop (John Mills), one of Laughton's own craftsmen (and thus of a lower class). Earlier the same day, a rich woman had walked into the bootshop for the sole purpose of praising Willie's master craftsmanship. Maggie is a clever businesswoman, and she figures that she can help a man with Willie's skill succeed. Laughton, of course, disapproves, but Maggie is too strong willed. And, again, clever. She quickly and flawlessly develops plans to come out above her father.
I haven't exactly said what the mood of this film is yet. It could be a drama, but it is a comedy of manners and class. It glides along with such an amazingly graceful wit, and it's oh so gentle. The budding relationship between Willie and Maggie is simply amazing to watch. The engagement and marriage begins as just a business engagement. I was actually worried that Maggie, so efficient, would destroy her husband's will. But she softens as she realizes what a lovable man she has shanghaied. The film contains one of the most remarkably funny sex scenes I can recall; well, pre-sex scene, of course. The couple's marriage day is winding to an end, and we see that Willie isn't quite sure what's to happen between them as he slowly gets ready for bed. We see how it all worked out the next morning when he won't even let his wife set a teacup and saucer down before he rushes at her with the first kiss of the morning.
It's also a lot of fun to see an old blowhard like Laughton's Hobson get his bubble burst. Laughton is easily one of the best actors in history. We have nothing half as good today. He's not especially likeable here, but he is awfully amusing. Near the film's open, the only way he can get up the stairs to bed while drunk is to do it at a sprint with his arms held out to balance. Lean's direction is quite good, as well. I am not extremely familiar with his entire career; I only know his three biggest films. I'm glad to have finally got to a humbler Lean. This is at least as good as Lawrence. I have to mention one other greatly subtle scene: Hobson, p****d in both the British and American meanings of the word, spies the reflection of the full moon in a puddle of rainwater. He imagines it looking down on him with contempt, so he rushes to it and stomps it. When the water becomes still again, the moon is back. Oh wait, no! It's not the moon, but Hobson's fat face filling in exactly where the moon had been! 9/10.
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