Recently widowed well-to-do Laura Henderson is at a bit of a loose end in inter-war London. On a whim she buys the derelict Windmill theatre in the West End and persuades impresario Vivian Van Damm to run it, despite the fact the two don't seem to get on at all. Although their idea of a non-stop revue is at first a success, other theatres copy it and disaster looms. Laura suggests they put nudes in the show, but Van Damm points out that the Lord Chamberlain, who licenses live shows in Britain, is likely to have something to say about this. Luckily Mrs Henderson is friends with him.Written by
Mr. Van Damm announces that Bertie has been kept out of military service by his heart murmur, and everyone present (including Bertie) reacts as if this is a great joke. This suggests that it's an official cover story. Homosexual acts were a crime in Britain at the time, although they were usually covered up rather than prosecuted. The presence of obvious homosexuals in the army was considered bad for morale, so it was common for perfectly healthy men of that nature to enlist for service and be turned away. Since recruiting officers often refused to even admit that homosexuality existed, they paid doctors to publish falsified medical reports naming such a disability as the pretext for why the volunteers were turned away. See more »
Laura Henderson's husband died in 1919, she purchased the Palais de Luxe and turned it into the Windmill Theatre in 1931, and introduced the nude "tableaux vivants" in 1932. The movie depicts all these events as occurring after 1937. See more »
Laura Henderson: "We've had some good shows, but they're not daring enough. Let's get rid of the clothes."
A wealthy widow, Mrs. Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) buys an old London theater and comes up with the brilliant idea to turn it in a performance hall with the non-stop shows featuring nude girls during World War II. Bob Hoskins plays Vivian Van Damm, her business partner, who is as stubborn and opinionated as she is but somehow they manage to stay friends and to maintain the respect and admiration for each other. I liked this little movie very much. It's a well crafted dramedy with nice musical numbers, nudity, touching story, and it is based on the real events. Dench and Hoskins are marvelous together.
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