Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005) Poster

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Gently amusing British wartime film with superb music
svw4 December 2005
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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The Best little movie you'll never hear of!
carriecerta15 December 2005
Long time viewer of but first time poster. I just HAD to post after that negative listing I saw because I couldn't disagree more! I found the movie hilarious and touching. The history of the Windmill Theatre is extraordinary! I come from a theater background and currently work in production for television and film... and I just loved this movie. From the script, to the costuming, the acting, music and imagery... beautiful. My only complaint would be to the Weinsteins - where is the PR??? Dench and Hoskins are amazing! Oscar contenders for sure! I know it won't be released wide until January and I do hope it picks up speed because there's no good reason NOT to see this movie - there's humor, nudity, history, a little romance, a little violence... it has something for everyone!
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A feel good experience
robrpc-11 January 2006
This little gem was given a bad review by a local newspaper critic and I couldn't disagree more!! I loved it. Judy Dench (the wonderful) and Bob Hoskins are fabulous in their roles and I loved the flirtatious undercurrents. This film made me laugh and cry .... I left the theatre feeling lovely ... what more could you ask for in a movie?? The history of the Windmill Theatre and the (ludicrious) laws allowing the nudes on stage was very interesting. I think Will Young did very well in his first movie, I am an oldie who enjoys his singing. All in all a great movie, Judy Dench fans wont be disappointed, and I hope some younger movie goers give it a go as its well worth the viewing.
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An all-round British triumph
bushbabyskip30 December 2005
How to start on this spectacular film?

The music is superb, Fenton did a sterling job in providing the score for this enthralling musical. Judi Dench sits, as always, perfectly in the role of rebellious Laura Henderson, and her rapport with Bob Hoskins gives a punch to the storyline. The stunning Kelly Reilly combines her English-rose appearance with wartime tenacity and delivers a truly believable and moving performance throughout. Will Young, a surprise casting for many, heads the musical cast with an almost scarily convincing performance as the energetic performer, Bertie. He's rightly received glowing reviews after his substantial appearance in the movie, most notably from Dench and Hoskins themselves - inspired casting by Frears.

This film is a perfect example of typically British humour and attitudes, particular during WWII - In fact it's been a hit with many people from the era (when I went to see it I was surrounded not least by people of 60 and over who reacted to the film with raucous laughter and many a teary eye). I whole heartedly recommend this film to anyone with a love of music, comedy, history, Britain or simply bloody good acting.
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Delightful and feisty--the film and its star...
laughing_cat22 January 2006
This film is a lot of fun. Judi Dench is great to watch as a brash, rich, sometimes naive woman who buys a theater as a hobby after her husband's death. She adds fire and life to every scene she's in and has a superb on screen rapport with Bob Hoskins.

The nudity is handled very well. The audience was completely silent when the girls first appeared in all their God-given glory. I think that no one wanted to be heard reacting in any way. But after a while the nudity in the film became as secondary to the story as it did to the audience. There are characters and their relationships that you care about and then WWII starts up with all of Hitler's insanity. They become the real focal points.

If you go to the movie knowing what you're in for, you'll have a wonderful time. It is well-done and has a good story with terrific actors. There are some lines that are very, very funny. Audience members of all ages were clapping when it was finished and you will too.
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A wonderful movie
jimpryke14 December 2005
I saw this movie last night at a screening in Sedona,AZ. I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of the show. The casting was perfect. The sets were marvelous. The acting was superb. The chemistry between Judith Dench and Bob Hoskins was palpable and just fun to watch. Kelly Reilly, Will Young, Christopher Guest, Thelma Barlow and the remainder of the cast brought to life a very poignant story of a slice of life in WWII London and the spirit of the people of the West End theater district. All of the storytelling, dancing, singing and script was masterfully choreographed and crafted by the collaboration of Director Stephen Frears and Writer Martin Sherman to produce an extremely entertaining movie well worth a few hours of your time and worthy of all the acclaim I'm sure it will receive. A must see movie.
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MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS is a brilliant film and a great story.
screenwriter-1410 December 2005
Judi Dench as MRS. HENDERSON is a joy to watch from the first scene in the cemetery to the last scene on a roof top in London. A powerful story of a rich English woman who strikes gold with an investment in a theater in London during World War II and turns her investment into a brilliant refuge for her audience as bombs drop all around the theater.

Bob Hoskins turns in a performance as brilliant as Ms. Dench and the two of the them on the screen together is such a pleasure to watch two polished and professional actors light up the screen. The chemistry between them is marvelous, and their scenes together are filled with tremendous writing and biting humor. A "cinematic joy" just in time for the Awards season.

MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS brings us back to the time of World War II and visually shows us the strength of character which the English people had in fighting the Germans and the tremendous sacrifices made by Great Britain to win the war. The supporting cast of beautiful women, and the marvelous role Christopher Guest has in the movie makes this film one to remember and cherish during the holiday season.

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It is rare that a movie can make you laugh and cry
alecchristie3 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Magnificent performances from Bob Hoskins and Judi Dench make this the film of 2005. It is a fantastic example of British cinema doing what it does best. Combining a period setting with comedy, pathos and tragedy this is a film that takes you from tears to laughter in a matter of moments. Judi Dench's opening scene takes us from the sober and controlled environment of a pre-war aristocratic Englishman's funeral to a moment of pure emotional release in the apparent privacy of a rowing boat on an English river. Mrs Henderson copes with the loss of her father not by attending coffee mornings or charity functions, but by purchasing the Windmill Theatre and putting on a bawdy burlesque revue. Enter Bob Hoskins as Vivian Van Damm, the cigar smoking Dutch Jewish theatre manager. The two have a love hate relationship which is so well acted the chemistry between the two of them is electric. (possible spoiler) At one point Mrs Henderson approaches Vivian Van Damm after he has received news of the round up of Dutch Jews by the Nazis. This scene is underplayed which such sensitivity by both actors it elicited an emotional response in myself and all the people I was watching the film with. Excellent casting from Leo Davis. Kelly Reilly is the one to watch out for in 2006. Thelma Barlow and Christopher Guest were hilarious as Lady Conway and Lord Cromer. Martin Sherman script is clever, witty and deeply moving. I left with a tear in my eye and joy in my heart. Unmissable. And Will Young can act as well as sing.
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Quite astoundingly good
Valmont19422 January 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I went to see this film, not expecting very much, but provoked, in part, by a review by Jeffrey Lyons proclaiming it to be the best picture of the year. I was delighted to find that the film quite exceeded my expectations. If I had done my homework, I should have realized that the director, responsible for "My Beautiful Laundrette," was capable of greatness. I knew that, for the past few years, I had savored the small parts of films that Judy Densch had acted in. Seeing her as the star of a film is a delight. And what a film! Not only does it pay tribute to the stirring story of how the British withstood the Blitz, but it also pays reverence to British theater traditions. The musical numbers are delightful. The attention to period detail puts one in mind of "Brideshead Revisited" or the collected works of Merchant-Ivory. The cast is refreshingly entertaining. There is the beautiful blond actress who played the part of the noblewoman sister of the young man courting Elizabeth Bennett's sister in "Pride and Prejudice." Bob Hoskins outdoes himself (when is he not superb?) There is a new-to-Americans actor-singer who is delightful in the musical numbers. What a treat to be able to hear Dame Judy Dench's incomparable intonations and watch her facial expressions. If "Billy Elliot" became a stage musical comedy, I don't think it will be long before this work comes to the West End and then to New York. The title character is every bit as rich as Mame or Mama Rose.
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A winner
hmd432123 October 2005
A lovely movie. The idea that a movie about a strip joint could be so classy and funny seems absurd. Yet here is a loving portrayal of London's Windmill Theatre whose motto "We never closed" (or, as some wags used to say, "We never clothed")sustained them through World War Two and at least into the 60s. Judy Dench seems to have shed her Dameness for a a high old time as a very glamorous, and slightly camp, septuagenarian. Bob Hoskins (also producer) is very restrained yet determined as her adversarial business partner. And Christopher Guest puts in a surprise appearance as the Lord Chamberlin befuddled at having to grant a license to such a licentious business enterprise. It is he that comes up with the idea that nudes absolutely still on stage are "art". The depiction of the London Blitz is romantic and at one moment tragically graphic. A must for Denchophiles, Anglophiles, nude lovers, showbiz types, and anyone who likes a good yarn well told.
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What An Emotional Wallop!!!!
Casablanca378413 March 2006
Reese won the Oscar for Best Actress. I loved the film and her too. She was amazing indeed but the performance I saw yesterday from Judi Dench made Reese's performance pale by comparison. If Dame Judi isn't one of the greatest actresses ever, I'm Napolean and I strongly suggest seeing "Mrs. Henderson Presents" to prove it. I might add that I am surprised by Robert Hoskins's not having received an Oscar nomination because he is not only superb but so important for Judi to play off of.

I thought it was going to be a lighthearted romp thru nudesville which is why I was astonished. Nude showgirls? Yes but it's just the tip of the iceberg; in fact the nudity becomes secondary as the real impact of the plot unfolds. It is absolutely a magnificent story, one of courage,love, loyalty, determination and vindication.

Perhaps my love for this film is partially due to the fact that I'm an Anglophile. We Yankees owe our very lives to the remarkable Winston Churchill and the remarkable British, the kind whom Judi Dench portrays. The indomnitable Brits, never saying ENOUGH"- never considering surrender as Hitler's Luftwaffe bombed London and other major cities into near rubble. These British waited out torture,fire and death by huddling in their underground(subways) and might I add, into that safe portion of London's Windmill Theatre owned by Mrs. Henderson and run by Mr. Van Dam. I shall write no more about it but strongly advise anyone seeing this fantastic film to appreciate the bravery of all the English during the blitz.

Just keep in mind that had they surrendered, Hitler would have used the British Isles to conquer Iceland, then Greenland, then parts of Canadand ultimately Luftwaffe bombs would have fallen on our major east coast industrial cities.

God bless our British cousins! In the meantime, don't forget to bring tissues with you because I'm warning you--this picture has a powerful emotional wallop. A tip of my cap to you Mrs. Henderson. You provided us moviegoers with an unforgettable story.
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An exceptional little film
jprhedd25 December 2005
I seem to be on a Judi Dench role this week, first having seen Ladies in Lavender and now Mrs. Henderson Presents. Such a lovely actress. Bob Hoskins is another favorite having played a wonderful part in the Dunera Boys, a lesser known but excellent movie. They were so well matched in this movie and all the other parts were played with equal professionalism. I really cannot fine any flaws in the film. I am a big fan of musicals so that might have helped and might put some people off, but the numbers were well staged. Enough wry wit, drama and storyline for most people. This is what I would term, a small film. No blood and guts, no massive video effects but rather old war footage, no massive attack scenes. Just a story about life during WW2 on the West End of London.
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The Perfect Escape...Cinematic Fun
jsemovieman11 December 2005
As the closing feature of the 2005 St. Louis International Film Festival, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" was shown to a nearly full theatre. Coming from the United Kingdom, the film is not a drama nor is it a comedy. "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is best described as a "dramedy" mixed with a musical. Judi Dench dives into her usual role with ease, playing Laura Henderson. As an upper-class widow left with heaps of money, she decides to purchase a theatre, which she names The Windmill. Through the love-hate relationship between Mrs. Henderson and her theatre manager (the terrific Bob Hoskins), they present the most revolutionary program in England: nude women on stage. "Mrs. Henderson Presents," constantly switches from drama to comedy, but is so skillfully directed by Stephen Frears that it maintains a fluid and graceful tone. This is a film that is told through the eyes of its main character, Laura Henderson, so an unrealistic sense of optimism exists. The message lies in the naïve buoyancy Mrs. Henderson grabs from the continuous tragedy and sadness.

Stephen Frear's new film is truly heartbreaking and tragic, but ironically, is incredibly fun. In "Mrs. Henderson Presents," The Windmill Theatre stands tall like a knight in shining armor to the soldiers and crowds of England. It is also a pleasurable escape that certainly deserves more than one visit.
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Brilliant Casting
yatej4 March 2006
I was living in London in 1950 and recall going to the Windmill twice; the name Vivian Van Damm was very familiar to me but I thought she/he was a lady.

The live revues, the stage settings and the theatre were very true to life. I cannot imagine a better combination than Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins; absolutely brilliant casting.

The production brings with it the authenticity of the thirties in England.The scene at the cemetery at the car park where all the Bentley, Austins, Rolls, Morris, Allards were intact and running; fashions, hairstyles and street scenes all perfect. Mrs. Henderson from the unreal world of wealth gets a dose of reality which Judi portrays to perfection. She handles Bob Hoskins from the rough and tumble of the theatre with humor and understanding. The girls, except for the "still" ones, were not all knocks-outs but exuded personality, just as I remember them. Excellent; a must-see.
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it really happened; I was there
imp-68 February 2006
I was there exactly the year depicted. I was a lonely GI standing in front of the theater when two large Scots in kilts grabbed me by each arm and charged through the door without tickets shouting, The Black Watch never pays." Shortly afterwards the British MPs showed up and there was quite a hassle getting the kilted to get tickets. Fortunately I had not sat with them and the show went on. The theater looked exactly the same as on the screen so far as I remember. I, too, had not seen several nudes at the same time or maybe not at all in the same conditions. Remember, this was 1942 and if you were on your own at college, it was difficult to get 5 girls to strip at the same time, I guess. The headliner was Phyllis Dixie. The movie has been reviewed splendidly by others but I'm certain none viewed it with the emotions that surprised me. Of course I never heard of Mrs. Henderson but I did see the night bombings from a rooftop nearby. I know this isn't about the movie but it is about something that REALLY happened.
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Revuedeville! -- at the Windmill
nycritic19 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
There's a marvelous scene early in MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS in which Laura Henderson, just widowed, is seen "rowing her boat gently down the stream" away from the camera, and once she's at a safe distance -- barely a speck amidst the background of green -- does she cry out in pain and weeps. It's the only time we will see her give in to pain and suffering in this way: it's as if widowhood has brought forth an inner steel that may have been there, waiting for the right moment. In her life, death was that right moment.

She picks up a pet project which is to get into vaudeville -- it's the hottest thing across the pond, why not bring it to London? -- and so Revudeville is born. But there's a problem: even though the show is a success, it's not long when every other theater in London has the same act, so hers, the first, loses money left and right. Her theater is in big trouble of getting closed. The iconoclast that she is, she suggests the unthinkable -- get naked girls. You can almost see the laughter trying to peal itself out as the camera holds itself tight on her face once she makes her outrageous suggestion: she's touched a testy subject, her partner, Vivian Van Damm, is stunned, but this is what she wants and she's going to get it.

MRS HENDERSON PRESENTS from this moment on embraces its newfound sense of nudity in telling the story of the Windmill Theatre and its revue of showgirls who, while presenting live acts, also had naked females posing in the background -- live works of art, nothing objectionable with that, and a trick that due to a loophole in the laws back then they were able to get away with.

The movie is mainly lightweight throughout its first half as the Windmill Theatre is gaining its "saucy" momentum. A hoot to watch is the verbal exchange between Mrs. Henderson and Lord Chamberlain, who is appalled at the idea that -- Heaven forbid! -- the public will see the girls' pudendum. (It's one of the many verbal exchanges in this delightful film.) She assures him she'll have the lighting technicians use soft light... and if that doesn't solve the issue, a barber will be on call to take a closer look into the matter. No need for either -- the show is a hit, and everyone is happy with the results.

But war arrives not long after and what has become a symbol of underground entertainment now becomes a place where soldiers take refuge. The movie takes an uneven tone from here on because it has to accommodate more dramatic events, set aside the more comedic ones, and keep up with the musical it also is. It's not an easy thing to do, but I loved the way that Frears blended the three, in the great scene when bombers begin attacking London as the Windmill is in full performance. Notice the act of defiance Maureen (Kelly Reilly), the only one of the dancers who gets a storyline in the movie, makes as she "gives them the finger" and poses like it were opening night. It's a moment of dramatic strength, emotional triumph, with a hint of a wink here and there -- the essence of what it must have been like to live in that period of time.

It's always a good experience for me to see a Stephen Frears film because he seems to have a good notion of what makes actors work as they work together. Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins do look like they've been married for years and certainly act so, they argue grandly, and tell people they should never interrupt a good argument. Kelly Reilly has more to do here than in PRIDE & PREJUDICE where she played Caroline Bingley, and her role is given the necessary depth without making it maudlin. When she leaves, the film pretty much ends: there is something about her muted storyline I wanted to see more of. Christopher Guest. Will Young, and Thelma Barlow also fill up the cast with funny performances.
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Judy, Judy, Judy!!!
liz-17321 December 2005
Oh isn't she terrific?! As a Brit, I get a bit tee-ed off with the 'heritage' type of movie; the type that present a picture that never existed, but the very presence of the old dame gives Mrs Henderson Presents a really uplifting quality. I thoroughly enjoyed this film, all the performances were excellent, Judes of course, but Bob Hoskins as well... oh, and Will Young - he reminded me of Tommy Tune in The Boyfriend - well worth a few quid of anyone's money! I saw it at a preview screening and had the good fortune to chat with Bob Hoskins after the film. He was wonderful, a pocket-sized bundle of fun (though Bob, you owe me two fags). I asked him what it was like working with the Dame (she has a reputation for being totally committed and therefore can be a bit scary). He grinned a grin the size of the Dartford Tunnel and said 'Judy! She frightened the effing (though he didn't say 'effing')life out of me!!' It was a great moment - he's one of my heroes; stunning in The Long Good Friday and Mona Lisa... and a little, grey-haired old lady terrified him!! He said she on the ball twenty four hours a day and worked like a trouper. Wonderful!!! I would absolutely recommend Mrs Henderson Presents; it's nostalgic, yes; it's a bit contrived; but hey, artistic license is allowed still isn't it? And I'd rather watch this than sit through turgid dross like Notting Hill or Four Weddings. As British films go - this might just signal a bit of a comeback - we can but hope.
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A woman of independent means
jotix1006 February 2006
What does a recent widow of a certain age do for amusement in the England of the 1930s? She buys a theater. And what kind of entertainment does this widow decide to give to the London public? The type that they didn't get in other venues.

That is the premise of this film directed by Stephen Frears that clearly shows it was a vehicle tailor made for a great dame of the English stage and cinema, Judi Dench, who clearly dominates with her presence all we see in this formulaic picture based on a real story.

The Windmill Theater in London never closed its doors during the worst of the bombing it suffered. It must have been quite a feat for the real Mrs. Henderson and her manager, Vivian Van Damm, to keep presenting day after day the kind of variety shows the public loved. The skits at the Windmill showed a lot of naked skin by the way of the beautiful young women whose job was to stand in the background and have their bodies shown in an artistic way in order to avoid the censure of the office of Lord Chamberlain.

Mrs. Henderson had the good fortune of engaging a manager of the caliber of Vivian Van Damm. He was the genius behind all the revues that played at the Windmill because his vision and knowing well what the public wanted to see. Later on, as England entered the war, the theater became a refuge for the young men that were in the city on leave before going, or returning to the front lines.

Judi Dench portrays Laura Henderson with her accustomed style in a fun, although predictable performance. She has some good moments. Bob Hoskins, playing Mr. Van Damm is also good playing opposite of Ms. Dench. Thelma Barlow appears as Mrs. Henderson's friend and confidant as the delicious Lady Conway and Christopher Guest is perfect as the Lord Chamberlain.

Stephen Frears direction doesn't bring anything to the film that has a feeling as something one has seen before. While the film doesn't break any new ground, it still is fun because of the great Judi Dench doing what she does best.
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Laura Henderson: "We've had some good shows, but they're not daring enough. Let's get rid of the clothes."
Galina_movie_fan12 October 2006
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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Fantastic movie - most refreshing film I have seen in a long time........
dolphcats2 April 2006
Have been meaning to see the movie since it's release, but for a multitude of reasons, have only just viewed it. It was truly refreshing - excellent acting (from all), demonstrated both compassion/compassionate, historical reference, honesty, modesty, etc., etc., etc....

Dame Judi Dench was fabulous, Bob Hoskins surprisingly great in a fairly serious role for him, Will Young - brilliant in his 'virgin' film role (absolute fan of his voice & 30/40's songs suited him down to the ground), Thelma Barlow - great to see her on the screen after many yrs out of Coronation St., played the part extremely well, and to finish, Kelly Reilly (Maureen) - played a special part in the movie for me for many reasons: plucked out of obscurity, became a natural leader of sorts through the diversity of nudity in a society which degraded a person's name readily through nonconforming, and mainly, because the scene of her death portrayed the feelings of warmth/closeness/loyalty and above all respect in a group of people who were 'merely' colleagues!........

Well done Peop's

PS I have 'walked out' of a few movies in my time due to lack of attention to detail, BUT, the only thing I found a discrepancy in with the movie was the fact that Bob Hoskins cigar, 'apparently lit at the time', did not burn the carpet when dropped in anger at virtually the beginning of the film....... The acting and dialogue distracted my focus!!! Again, well done.
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A delightful WWII London Story
justjudy753 March 2006
Under promoted. Truly a tasteful, funny, sad, poignant British film with substance. No unnecessary space fillers. They got it right! People look their age and natural which was a nice treat. The bombing of London wasn't a picnic so finding safe havens and reality escapes for a moment was at a premium, no matter the form. Great portrayal of the era. Loved the opening sketches. Dame Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins played off each other with impeccable timing and with just the right acid. The rest of the cast did their job too! Thank you for putting taste back into the movies. In a class all its own!

I was surprised, at a 1:30pm weekday showing, to count approximately 90 in attendance. If I count 12 at other movies, it would be a crowd. I thoroughly enjoyed and have recommended to others.
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amusing Depression-Era romp
Buddy-5124 October 2006
When her husband died, a feisty British dowager named Laura Henderson bought a West End theater called The Windmill, where, for the first time ever in the history of England, nude models appeared live on stage (the nudity could pass legal muster because it was presented strictly in the form of tableaux). These shows quickly became all the rage in Depression Era London, and the theater even became a beacon for morale-boosting through the dark days of the Nazi Blitz. Her cohort was a producer named Vivian Van Damm, whom the flighty Mrs. Henderson took a shine to - on both a personal and professional level - early on.

Stephen Frears' "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is what is generally known in the trade as an "actors' film," one in which the stars are the key to the movie's success. And, indeed, Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins turn in flawless performances that complement one another very nicely. Dench is all stiff-upper-lip, scenery-chewing feistiness, while Hoskins plays the part of her foil with impressive understatement. Moreover, the film is to be commended for not going for the obvious in its portrayal of the relationship between these two very different main characters (Van Damm was married and stayed true to his wife).

The script is clever, sharp and witty, with just the right amount of sentiment thrown in to give the movie the fairy tale quality it needs to succeed. In terms of the sets, cinematography and costume design, the film is a sumptuous, lovely-to-look-at, pitch-perfect re-creation of its time period.

When all is said and done, "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is a lighter-than-air soufflé that is quickly consumed and then forgotten. But it sure gives one a lot of pleasure while it lasts.
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My brief review of the film
sol-23 December 2005
Judi Dench is excellent in the title role of this British comedy, perfectly suited to her ageing but yet still feisty character, and Bob Hoskins has some solid moments too in support. With excellent costumes and sets, the film is able to provide a feel for both the Depression era and the spirit of vaudeville at its peak of popularity. It is a delight to watch, well done on pretty much all levels - even the stage numbers are entertaining to watch. It is also quite funny too at times, and touching at other times. Unfortunately one never really gets to know the characters particularly well, other than those fleshed out by Hoskins and Dench. This limits how involving it is to watch… but it is still amusing either way… and the film avoids being overly literal when it explores Dench's character.
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Plucky comedy-drama with great musical numbers
starcommand18 January 2006
Judi Dench commands the screen as Mrs. Henderson, a sheltered but freethinking wealthy widow who buys an old theater. With the help of mercurial impresario Vivian Van Damm, played by Bob Hoskins, she eventually hits on a winning formula of musical revues with nude women in artistic poses.

Although most of the supporting characters are two-dimensional and used perfunctorily, this movie is highly enjoyable thanks to the splendid musical numbers and the indomitable Judi's performance, not to mention the gorgeous naked women.

The nudity is tastefully filmed (except for a brief full-monty shot of Bob Hoskins - ugh!), and there is no reason why this feature of the film should have gotten it an "R" rating in the U.S. Still, sadly, to many American minds, nudity in movies = sleaze. The ladies in this film are treated with respect and affection - as if it were just another way of making a living; an admirable attitude.

Fans of '30s music should see this by all means; several upbeat numbers will have your toes tapping and make your "heart beat the faster" (to quote Jerome Kern).

A snappy, if sometimes too-hurried pace, will keep your attention throughout. In terms of the energy level, it reminds me, oddly enough of those all-star propaganda musicals made in the '40s to boost morale during the war.
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Really enjoyable
graham-p-carter3 December 2005
I've just seen this film and thought it was excellent - and Will Young does very well! The period detail, show tunes and production numbers are all very enjoyable and the story is by turns really funny and very sad and poignant. The previous reviewer does not seem to appreciate that a film about a theatre, which puts on shows, containing a singer... is bound to contain behind- the-scenes stuff, people rehearsing, people singing - the film, after all, is a film about a theatre! What else did he expect to see?! Don't let "peteranderson"'s poorly written review put you off - all he succeeds in doing is displaying a poor vocabulary (does he know no synonyms for "good"?!) and a dislike for Will Young, which says more about him than it does about the film or Will Young's performance.
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