7.7/10
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75 user 43 critic

Hobson's Choice (1954)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Drama, Romance | 19 April 1954 (UK)
Henry Hobson 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.

Director:

David Lean

Writers:

Harold Brighouse (by), David Lean (screenplay) | 2 more credits »
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Won 1 BAFTA Film Award. Another 1 win & 4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Charles Laughton ... Henry Hobson
John Mills ... William Mossop
Brenda de Banzie ... Maggie Hobson
Daphne Anderson ... Alice Hobson
Prunella Scales ... Vicky Hobson
Richard Wattis ... Albert Prosser
Derek Blomfield ... Freddy Beenstock
Helen Haye ... Mrs. Hepworth
Joseph Tomelty ... Jim Heeler
Julien Mitchell Julien Mitchell ... Sam Minns
Gibb McLaughlin ... Tudsbury
Philip Stainton Philip Stainton ... Denton
Dorothy Gordon ... Ada Figgins
Madge Brindley ... Mrs. Figgins
John Laurie ... Dr. McFarlane
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Critics' Choice See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 April 1954 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

Hobson's Choice See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Alexander Korda suggested to Writer, Producer, and Director Sir David Lean that he should adapt Harold Brighouse's 1915 stage comedy for the screen. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[first lines]
Henry Hobson: Beg pardon.
Maggie Hobson: Good job your Masons' meetings are only once a month.
See more »

Connections

Featured in TCM Guest Programmer: Tim Roth (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Just a great film!
5 November 2002 | by zetesSee all my reviews

Charles Laughton plays an alcoholic widower (and happy about it) with three adult daughters. The oldest of them, Maggie (Brenda de Banzie), is 30, and the other two are (I would guess) in their early 20s. He wants to marry off the younger two, but the eldest he finds useful to his bootmaking business. "You're too old," he tells her when she asks about her turn to be married. Well, Laughton has raised his daughter to be too shrewd for his own good! When faced with her father's challenge, she lands a fiancé within an hour. He is Willie Mossop (John Mills), one of Laughton's own craftsmen (and thus of a lower class). Earlier the same day, a rich woman had walked into the bootshop for the sole purpose of praising Willie's master craftsmanship. Maggie is a clever businesswoman, and she figures that she can help a man with Willie's skill succeed. Laughton, of course, disapproves, but Maggie is too strong willed. And, again, clever. She quickly and flawlessly develops plans to come out above her father.

I haven't exactly said what the mood of this film is yet. It could be a drama, but it is a comedy of manners and class. It glides along with such an amazingly graceful wit, and it's oh so gentle. The budding relationship between Willie and Maggie is simply amazing to watch. The engagement and marriage begins as just a business engagement. I was actually worried that Maggie, so efficient, would destroy her husband's will. But she softens as she realizes what a lovable man she has shanghaied. The film contains one of the most remarkably funny sex scenes I can recall; well, pre-sex scene, of course. The couple's marriage day is winding to an end, and we see that Willie isn't quite sure what's to happen between them as he slowly gets ready for bed. We see how it all worked out the next morning when he won't even let his wife set a teacup and saucer down before he rushes at her with the first kiss of the morning.

It's also a lot of fun to see an old blowhard like Laughton's Hobson get his bubble burst. Laughton is easily one of the best actors in history. We have nothing half as good today. He's not especially likeable here, but he is awfully amusing. Near the film's open, the only way he can get up the stairs to bed while drunk is to do it at a sprint with his arms held out to balance. Lean's direction is quite good, as well. I am not extremely familiar with his entire career; I only know his three biggest films. I'm glad to have finally got to a humbler Lean. This is at least as good as Lawrence. I have to mention one other greatly subtle scene: Hobson, p****d in both the British and American meanings of the word, spies the reflection of the full moon in a puddle of rainwater. He imagines it looking down on him with contempt, so he rushes to it and stomps it. When the water becomes still again, the moon is back. Oh wait, no! It's not the moon, but Hobson's fat face filling in exactly where the moon had been! 9/10.


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