A veteran high school teacher befriends a younger art teacher, who is having an affair with one of her 15-year-old students. However, her intentions with this new "friend" also go well beyond platonic friendship.
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 »
It's really not so bad. Widows are allowed hobbies.
Yes. Embroidery, things like that.
Are you mad?
I've graduated to weaving. Would you care to see my tapestries?
I'd rather drink ink.
Committees are good of course. I serve on quite a few charities. Once your husband dies, it's quite permissible to help the poor. And now, there's no one to stop you buying things. Also, of course, there's a great deal of time for lovers.
Margot, I'm nearly 70!
That's true, but you're also very rich. ...
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Gently amusing British wartime film with superb music
I cannot believe how badly this lovely film has been savaged on IMDb.
Apart from spectacular vaudeville staging, Judi Dench plays her eccentric, mischievous widow to perfection and the excellent Bob Hoskins is cast surprisingly out of type as a reserved, rather complex, gentlemanly but iron-willed theatre manager. Their argumentative relationship is amusing without being overbearing, as the film is essentially a nicely balanced ensemble piece. Dench's character Laura Henderson turns out to have a very touching motivation for her desire to stage daring musicals for brave young men off to war. Will Young gives an astonishingly strong vocal performance throughout. His mannered vocal style is perfect, and he looks every inch the part on stage. His few brief moments of acting are nothing to blush over either. Kelly Reilly, the star of the naked girlie reviews, is quite simply mesmerising to watch, and ultimately her character is full of pathos.
And if none of that were enough to engage you, you've got an interesting wartime plot, based on true events in the history of the Windmill Theatre, which in current circumstances feels highly topical and relevant for Londoners. 9/10
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