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 since their sole purpose in life is in service to him and the shop (receiving no wages in that professional service). He changes his mind about Alice and Vicky, for whom he will choose husbands, despite these romantic ones already having chosen the men they would marry if given the opportunity. Henry will, however, not provide them with a dowry, which may prove to be a challenge in finding them men he would consider suitable husbands. Concerning Maggie, he believes her 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 anyway. Incensed by her father's attitude, Maggie decides she must show him how wrong he is about her being an unmarriageable spinster. As such, ...Written by
Huggo/edited by statmanjeff
When the opening scene goes inside the store, it pauses to show the front door, complete with the blind rolled down. A little later Hobson lets himself in but the blind on the door is now up. See more »
Hobson's Choice is a delightful old play that is set in Manchester in the United Kingdom during Edwardian times. Among other things we see during this film adaption of it are temperance marchers and suffragettes, reminders that women were too often looked on as chattel, especially if the man of the house is one Henry H. Hobson.
Hobson's pretty typical of the male Britisher in Edwardian times. As written by Harold Brighouse and played Charles Laughton, he's a blustering old tyrant who dominates his three daughters in every way possible. His wife is gone and the three daughters as he views it seem to have been put on earth to serve him. He pays none of them wages to live independently, but without realizing it he's grown quite dependent on them. Especially on his eldest played by Brenda DaBanzie.
She's practically running his custom made boot&shoe establishment so he can spend time lounging at the pub. But DaBanzie has had quite enough of that. If Laughton had his way she'd be living with him permanently. Brenda's got different plans. She's got her idea on a husband, a skilled craftsman who works in Hobson's shop named Willy Mossop. He's a mild mannered fellow who doesn't realize his own worth. But before the film ends, the worm does indeed turn.
If Hobson's Choice has a fault it's that the whole film centers around the three principals, no other characters are really developed here. But Laughton, DaBanzie and John Mills as Willy Mossop give absolutely perfect characterizations in their respective roles.
Charles Laughton gives one of his best screen performances for David Lean in Hobson's Choice. Imagine Captain Bligh as a comic character and you've got Hobson. My guess is that Hobson was very typical of his age in his sexist views of life. What his late wife must have put up with. His scenes with Brenda DaBanzie have a lot of the same spark that characterize his work with his wife Elsa Lanchester in other films.
Brenda DaBanzie was at the height of her career, this and her work in The Man Who Knew Too Much the following year are her best known roles. She matches Laughton every step of the way, they are really a delight to see and listen to, in fact the dialog in their scenes is so good you can enjoy just turning away and listening to the film.
John Mills also gets one of his best roles. He's a man who grows in confidence in himself through DaBanzie's efforts. In the end watch who is dictating to whom.
A friend of mine who's from the Manchester area said that the film was shot in the nearby town of Selford because it looked more like Manchester of the Edwardian era than Manchester of 1954 did. He also says that Laughton and the rest of the cast got the dialog and idiom of the Lancashire area down perfectly and were quite believable in their parts for a British audience, let alone an American one.
Hobson's choice is a great film from David Lean and should be seen again and again whenever it's broadcast.
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