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Hobson's Choice (1954) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • 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.

  • 1880s Salford, England. Widowed Henry Hobson, owner and 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 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 how wrong he is about her being an unmarryingable spinster. As such, she makes a proposal to timid Willy Mossop, the shop's poor, uneducated, and illiterate boot hand (yet best boot maker, apparently better than any boot maker in nearby Manchester), who has known no other professional life than the shop. They enter into a marriage of convenience. Despite the differences in their social classes, Maggie believes she can show her father that she can find a husband while also forcing him to treat Willy better (and by association her) in paying him decent wages, otherwise she will use her wifely influence to convince Willy to take his and her valuable services elsewhere. If their hands are forced, Maggie believes their best weapon is wealthy and particular Mrs. Hepworth, who said she will have no one else but Willy make her boots. Maggie has even taken into consideration what effect her actions will have on her sisters' nuptials, vowing to them that all will be all right in that regard. Although she truly has no idea how her father will react, she also may not have considered Willy, who may already have a life of his own outside the shop. If he does agree, what effect will her plan have on him and his entire being?

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  • Henry Hobson (Charles Laughton) runs a successful bootmaker's shop in nineteenth century Salford. A widower with a weakness for the pub opposite, he tries forcefully to run the lives of his three unruly daughters. When he decrees "no marriages" to avoid the expensive matter of settlements, eldest daughter Maggie (Brenda de Banzie) rebels and sets her sights on Will Mossop (Sir John Mills), Hobson's star bootmaker. Maggie and Will leave to start up in competition, and she then turns her mind to helping her sisters marry their chosen partners.

  • In Salford it's the time of revolution. The revolution is not industrial, but feminine. This movie shows how the strong females come to the fore in shaping their own world at a time when it was frowned on. Behind the boots and clogs are individuals who must also be determined and strong in a society that gives them little credence. Keeping the humor, it also shows without fantasy the life of the Salford folk and the social connections and customs that gave their life order, untill they were challenged and eventually changed.


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