Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton) 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.
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1880s Salford, England. Widowed Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton), owner and operator of Hobson's Boots, lives with his three adult daughters, Maggie (Brenda de Banzie), Alice (Daphne Anderson), and Vicky (Prunella Scales), 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 for their services). 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 ...Written by
Huggo/edited by statmanjeff
Out of all billed cast, Prunella Scales who played Vicki Hobson is the last surviving cast member. See more »
Willy Mossop places his belt on top of his jacket whilst undressing on his wedding night. Moments later he is called into the bedroom and picks up his trousers and jacket, but his belt is missing. See more »
David Lean's last film in black and white, and his last set in England, is a gentle comedy about class mobility, marriage, and curmudgeonly old men making way for a generation of independent women. Lean had been adapting plays for the screen since the beginning of his career, and he'd already done a comedy with Blithe Spirit in 1945, but his experience by the time of Hobson's Choice is showing. His confident direction coupled with a top-notch cast and a great script make this a real treat.
The starting point of Hobson's Choice is a typically memorable comedy performance from Charles Laughton. Every film he is in is at risk of turning into The Charles Laughton show rather a mixed blessing because he tends to overshadow everything else but here his exuberant performance is offset by strong turns from lead players John Mills and Brenda De Banzie. Mills was in his mid-40s by this point, but with his fresh face and innocent manner he was still just about believable as the archetypal young lad. De Banzie was a stage actress who was unfortunately rare on the big screen. She makes another memorable performance in Hitchcock's second version of The Man Who Knew Too Much. Mills and De Banzie make such likable characters out of the central couple and it is their performances that hold the viewer's attention as much as Laughton's blustering buffoonery.
He wasn't known for his comedy direction, but Lean's sense of rhythm, particularly in the opening sequences and later in the famous scene in which Laughton drunkenly chases the moon's reflection in a puddle, is perfectly in step with Laughton's comic timing. The romantic scenes between Mills and De Banzie are directed with as much tenderness as any other love story Lean made, although he brilliantly punctures the sentimentality with a joke whenever there is a danger of them slipping into mawkishness.
Hobson's Choice is undoubtedly the happiest picture Lean ever made and, in keeping with the sweet tone, he has a real aesthetic approach to shot composition, with some pretty landscape shots in the park, and a focusing on facial close-ups. There is a real sense of harmony to many of the images, for example a recurring motif with leaves (and leaflets) blowing across the street, confetti at the wedding, and snow falling over the town.
When all's said and done though, it's the charming story and witty dialogue that makes Hobson's Choice a winner. Lean clearly knew by this point that the job of a director is to serve the screenplay and, avoiding the occasionally distracting expressionism of his earlier films, presents a story full of human warmth and gentle humour.
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