IMDb > Hoffman (1970)
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Ernest Gebler (screenplay)
Ernest Gebler (novel)
View company contact information for Hoffman on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
August 1971 (USA) See more »
A businessman blackmails his attractive young secretary into spending a weekend with him. Though he's a creep throughout... See more » | Add synopsis »
User Reviews:
Here's To The Losers See more (17 total) »


  (in credits order)

Peter Sellers ... Benjamin Hoffman

Sinéad Cusack ... Miss Janet Smith
Ruth Dunning ... Mrs. Mitchell
Jeremy Bulloch ... Tom Mitchell
David Lodge ... Foreman
Kay Hall
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Elizabeth Bayley

Cindy Burrows
Karen Murtagh
Ron Taylor ... Guitarist

Directed by
Alvin Rakoff 
Writing credits
Ernest Gebler (screenplay) (as Ernest Gébler)

Ernest Gebler (novel) (as Ernest Gébler)

Produced by
Ben Arbeid .... producer
Original Music by
Ron Grainer 
Cinematography by
Gerry Turpin (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Barrie Vince 
Art Direction by
John Blezard 
Makeup Department
Harry Frampton .... makeup artist
Patricia McDermott .... hairdresser (as Pat McDermott)
Peter Frampton .... assistant makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Bruce Sharman .... production supervisor
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Jake Wright .... assistant director
Art Department
Ron Coleman .... construction manager
Terry Ackland-Snow .... draughtsman (uncredited)
Tony Reading .... assistant art director (uncredited)
Sound Department
Len Abbott .... dubbing mixer
Ian Fuller .... sound editor
Claude Hitchcock .... sound recordist
A.W. Lumkin .... sound supervisor (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Michael Sarafian .... camera operator
Sid Wainwright .... chief electrician
Eddie Collins .... focus puller (uncredited)
Wick Finch .... electrician (uncredited)
Joe Pearce .... still photographer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Betty Adamson .... wardrobe (as Elizabeth Adamson)
Other crew
Doreen Dearnaley .... continuity
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
113 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.66 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Portugal:M/12 | UK:AA (original rating) | UK:15 (video rating) | USA:GP

Did You Know?

Benjamin Hoffman:Miss Smith. It's not only homosexuals who don't like women. Hardy anybody likes them.See more »
If There Ever Is a Next TimeSee more »


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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful.
Here's To The Losers, 5 November 2009
Author: Bill Slocum ( from Greenwich, CT United States

"Dr. Strangelove" is a fine movie, but I'd rather lose Peter Sellers's three legendary performances there than the first few seconds of his title role in "Hoffman", where he simply opens a door and stares at a young woman with succulent, lich-like longing.

The rest of "Hoffman" is nearly as good, so much so it's a surprise it hasn't been picked up for cult-movie status like some other lesser Sellers films have. Part of the problem, of course, is that "Hoffman" is a kind of transgressive pleasure.

Sellers plays Benjamin Hoffman, a middle-management guy who develops an office crush on the pretty-but-engaged Janet Smith (Sinéad Cusack). When Hoffman finds out Janet's fiancé has been stealing from their common employer, Hoffman invites Janet to his London pad for a weeklong stay that involves philosophy, creepy stares, pajama-clad standoffs, and the threat of sex if not the actual thing itself.

"Hope never dies in a man with a good dirty mind," Hoffman declares.

Director Alvin Rakoff and his team play up the spookiness of the assignation. They shoot Sellers like Christopher Lee in a Hammer Dracula film, his red-rimmed eyes staring blankly at Cusack. One scene of him inside an elevator in pursuit of her reminds me of Dracula awaiting sunset inside his coffin. He also sucks snails and rubs liniment on her bare neck, furthering the connection.

Not an easy comedy for pure laughs, "Hoffman" delivers humor more in the form of perverted menace, especially when Janet is reacting to his more over-the-top pronouncements. "Please make yourself look as though you want to be fertilized" is almost the first thing out of his mouth when Janet arrives, and the conversation goes downhill from there.

What makes "Hoffman" more affecting is the realness of Sellers' performance, the sense of watching a real person for once behind the mask Sellers so effortlessly employed. Benjamin Hoffman is a vampire or sorts, but one with a heart, who views his victim with compassion and sees his situation as a possible victory for "men who missed the boat but still need love".

The script by Ernest Gébler offers up many odd lines which rub some the wrong way and no doubt contribute to "Hoffman's" low reputation. A New York Times critic once inveighed against Hoffman's comment: "It's not only homosexuals who don't like women. Hardly anybody likes them." Of course, that's Hoffman's line, a guy who tells a woman he loves that women are just fallopian tubes with teeth. The fact he is so lost is part of the movie's comedy and part of its tragedy at the same time. Frankly, I also find the line hilarious.

There are groaner lines in "Hoffman", though, like when Hoffman tells Janet: "Why don't you stop stabbing me in the face with your doomed youth!" Huh? Give Cusack credit for providing such a resonant backstop to Seller's left-field banter, and giving her character the right amount of innocence and sex to make the whole thing work. Too much of one or the other, and it would fly off the rails.

"Hoffman" is probably not for everyone. It moves slowly, spends a lot of time with just two people in frame, and plays its comedy close to the vest. But for those who give it a chance, and especially those who adore Sellers going in, "Hoffman" is like a valentine wrapped inside a hand grenade just waiting to surprise you with a seriously fulfilling rumination on the riddle of love.

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