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Hoffman (1970)

GP  -  Comedy  -  August 1971 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 722 users  
Reviews: 17 user | 6 critic

A businessman blackmails his attractive young secretary into spending a weekend with him. Though he's a creep throughout, he gradually emerges as a sympathetic character.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Cast

Credited cast:
...
Benjamin Hoffman
...
Miss Janet Smith
Ruth Dunning ...
Mrs. Mitchell
Jeremy Bulloch ...
Tom Mitchell
David Lodge ...
Foreman
Kay Hall
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elizabeth Bayley
Karen Murtagh
Ron Taylor ...
Guitarist
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Storyline

A businessman blackmails his attractive young secretary into spending a weekend with him. Though he's a creep throughout, he gradually emerges as a sympathetic character. Written by Fred Dawson <phred@erols.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy

Certificate:

GP | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

August 1971 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Amor a la inglesa  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Miss Janet Smith: What's wrong with the old place?
Benjamin Hoffman: Oh, well, you know - treacheries, miseries, failure, despair.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Monty Python's Flying Circus: The Buzz Aldrin Show (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

If There Ever Is a Next Time
Music by Ron Grainer
Lyrics by Don Black
Sung by Matt Monro (as Matt Monroe)
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Hoffman (Alvin Rakoff, 1970) **1/2
28 December 2007 | by (Naxxar, Malta) – See all my reviews

This is at once one of Peter Sellers' least-known and more interesting vehicles; the film is virtually a two-hander – with Sinead Cusack (daughter of actor Cyril and later Mrs. Jeremy Irons) as the young girl blackmailed by a middle-aged colleague (Sellers) into becoming his lover, because he knows of her boyfriend's involvement in a robbery.

While the film is considered a comedy, it doesn't sound like it from that synopsis; it's really a character-driven piece on a serious theme – mid-life crisis – which has been treated several times over the years, though rarely in such perceptively intimate detail (for which it was deemed tasteless at the time). The humorous element (if one can call it that) springs from the fact that Sellers' character – who had been fantasizing about Cusack for months – doesn't have the courage to do anything with her once they're together! Incidentally, Hoffman's innately cruel nature was so similar to the real Peter Sellers that one might be inclined to think that his dialogue was improvised – but this wasn't the case!

With this in mind, the film can be seen as talky (though Ernest Gebler's script, adapted from his own novel, does contain a smattering of good lines), low-key and claustrophobic (the narrative strays only occasionally from Sellers' flat, and the two almost never interact with other people) – not to mention repetitive and overstretched at 113 minutes! One particular sequence included an ambitious shot lasting for some 18 minutes, which certainly belied the rumors that Sellers had suffered brain damage during that infamous incident from the early 1960s in which he suffered no less than seven heart attacks in one day. The film's happy-ending-of-sorts, then, is highly improbable – but I guess it works well enough in this context (given that Cusack's boyfriend is depicted as a one-dimensional character and, therefore, no match for the intellectual Sellers).

Gerry Turpin's cinematography of the bleak London settings is one of the film's main assets, while the tone of romantic melancholy – inherent in Ron Grainer's score and his Don Black-penned theme song, "If There Ever Is A Next Time" (sung by Matt Monro) – infuses the whole film and even serves as exposition for the main narrative during its deliberately vague early stages. By the way, director Rakoff had already handled the same material as a TV production starring Donald Pleasance; at his own admission, the film version was too slow – because the pace seemed to be dictated by the lead actor – and professed to having misgivings also about the choice of music. As for Sellers himself, he was so disappointed with the final result that the star offered to buy back the negative from the producer and shoot it again from scratch (the film, in fact, was such a resounding flop that it wasn't shown in New York until 1982)!


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