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Hoffman (1970)

GP  -  Comedy  -  August 1971 (USA)
7.1
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Ratings: 7.1/10 from 708 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
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Did You Know?

Quotes

Benjamin Hoffman: Many a good man has been destroyed by pity, Miss Smith.
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

Peter Sellers plays it straight for once...and is superb
3 November 2002 | by (New Zealand) – See all my reviews

Ask people what they remember about Peter Sellers, and if they know him at all they'll talk about the Pink Panther films or The Goon Show. In other words, he's forever labelled as a comic actor. In "Hoffman", Sellers plays against type in a straight dramatic performance - and, to be blunt, he's brilliant. "Hoffman" was ignored at the box office upon its' release in 1970, and never got a proper US release. Even today, with a million films on VHS and DVD, you'll have a hard job finding a copy. Audiences were clearly not prepared to sit through a film in which Peter Sellers didn't play four characters, fly through the air and crash painfully, or mask himself in make-up or funny voices. That "Hoffman" is essentially a filmed stage play with only four characters, and is largely just Sellers and Sinead Cusack talking for two hours, also clearly worked against its' success.

This is unfortunate, as here we have what is arguably Sellers' best performance. Sellers essentially plays himself...pale, somewhat gaunt, well-spoken, with an undeniable air of restrained madness about him. Sellers' Benjamin Hoffman is a hollow man, a man who has no existence outside of the things he remembers - and the unattainable image of the woman he adores from afar. Fate plays into Hoffman's hands when he obtains blackmail material on the woman's fiance...his price for his silence: a week alone with her in his flat. Sinead Cusack plays this prisoner of Hoffman's desire brilliantly, alternating between fiery Celtic indignation and a childlike quality. Though she can leave Hoffman's clutches at any time, she can never bring herself to do so...firstly out of fear for her future husband, and later because she finds herself captivated by the strangeness of her urbane blackmailer. Sellers is the very picture of quiet madness in this movie, never raising his voice and never displaying any hint of the obsessions that drive him in an overt manner. Hoffman is not a rapist, nor a maniac, but rather a emotional vampire who draws life from the innocence and youth of his 'guest'. Hoffman takes her to dinner, for walks in the park, to a department store, (in one notable scene, Cusack is pictured standing beneath sides of beef - a metaphor almost too unsubtle to work properly. But it does), he treats her with the utmost respect, he never so much as kisses her. In short, he tries to make her love him even though his every utterance and opinion arouse little but hatred in her. Hoffman is clearly goading her with his studied misogyny and his overbearing attempts to make her feel 'at home', fearing that if he ever became a person to her, or she to him, the spell he has cast would crack. And dreams are all Hoffman has, all he knows. Sellers' wraithlike appearance reinforces the vampiric quality of Hoffman...a man who has had all joy and wonder sucked out of his life by crushing domesticity. The Dracula metaphor is explored further in Hoffman's comments about wanting to consume his captive, and in a scene where she bares his neck to him. In short, "Hoffman" is a neglected gem, one of the few movies in which Sellers could escape his clownish characters and simply be Peter Sellers, actor. Or perhaps, Hoffman IS Sellers...? Jeremy Bulloch, best known as Boba Fett in the Star Wars series, plays the little-seen fiance. Also of note is the rather excellent score, composed by Ron Grainer. Grainer, of course, gave the world the best TV theme tune of all time..."Doctor Who". Matt Munro, who sang the title tune to From Russia With Love, does the honours here also with the melancholy song 'If There Ever Is A Next Time'. No Sellers fan should miss this movie. A masterpiece.


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