Hobson's Choice

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"A Masterpiece of Lusty, Gusty, Rowdy Entertainment"
  • NR
  • 1954
  • 1 hr 47 min
  • 7.7  (8,682)

Hobson's Choice is a British romantic comedy-drama film from 1954, directed by David Lean and adapted from the play of the same name by Harold Brighouse. The film stars Charles Laughton as Henry Horatio Hobson, a widowed and alcoholic bootmaker, John Mills as Willie Mossop, his timid and unassuming apprentice, and Brenda de Banzie as Maggie Hobson, his headstrong and enterprising daughter.

Set in the industrial town of Salford in Lancashire, England, in the late 19th century, the film tells the story of Hobson and his three daughters, Maggie, Alice (Daphne Anderson), and Vickey (Prunella Scales). Hobson runs a successful boot shop with his daughters' help, but he is a demanding and controlling father who takes advantage of their labor and denies them any independence or social life. Maggie, the eldest daughter, is the only one with enough courage and cunning to stand up to her father and challenge his authority.

When Hobson's excessive drinking causes him to fall ill, Maggie takes over the shop and hires Willie, her father's shy and uneducated apprentice, to work for her. Despite his lack of experience, Willie proves to be a talented and inventive shoemaker, and Maggie sees his potential as a business partner and as a husband. Hobson, however, sees Willie as a threat to his authority and forbids him from working with Maggie, which leads to a showdown between the two men.

As Maggie and Willie's relationship blossoms, Alice and Vickey marry and move out of the family home, leaving Hobson alone and powerless. Maggie takes advantage of her father's weakened state and forces him to sign over his business and properties to her and Willie, who become successful and prosperous bootmakers in their own right. Hobson, now a broken and humiliated man, seeks redemption in the arms of Mrs. Hepworth (Helen Haye), a wealthy and widowed customer who has long admired him.

Hobson's Choice is a witty and charming film that combines elements of social commentary, family drama, and romantic comedy. It explores themes of gender roles, class conflict, and generational change, while showcasing the talents of its remarkable cast. Laughton delivers a hilarious and touching performance as Hobson, a complex and flawed character who undergoes a transformation from tyrant to victim to survivor. Mills portrays Willie with warmth and humor, capturing the character's innate goodness and self-esteem, despite his humble origins. De Banzie is a force of nature as Maggie, a smart and resourceful woman who defies tradition and expectations to achieve her goals.

Lean's direction is impeccable, capturing the gritty realism and vibrant energy of Salford, while also creating a visually stunning and emotionally rich narrative. The film's use of color and lighting, particularly in the scenes featuring Maggie and Willie's courtship, is striking and expressive, conveying the warmth and intimacy of their relationship. The film's score, composed by Malcolm Arnold, is both playful and poignant, complementing the film's tone and themes.

Overall, Hobson's Choice is a classic film that deserves to be seen and appreciated for its wit, charm, and humanity. It is a testament to the power of individual determination and the resilience of the human spirit, and a celebration of love and life in all its forms.

Hobson's Choice is a 1954 comedy with a runtime of 1 hour and 47 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.7.

Hobson's Choice
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 47 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.7  (8,682)