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Hobson's Choice [VHS] [1954]

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

Dispatched from and sold by rdowns33.
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Product details

  • Actors: Charles Laughton, John Mills, Brenda de Banzie, Daphne Anderson, Prunella Scales
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Writers: David Lean, Norman Spencer, Harold Brighouse, Wynyard Browne
  • Producers: David Lean, Norman Spencer
  • Language: English
  • Classification: U
  • Studio: Warner
  • VHS Release Date: 3 July 2000
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CJ84
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 168,301 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)
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Product description

Product Description

Lancashire bootmaker Henry Horatio Hobson (Charles Laughton) keeps a tight rein on his three daughters, until his eldest, Maggie (Brenda De Banzie), marries his assistant Willie Mossop (John Mills) and sets him up in his own bootmaking firm. To Hobson's consternation, Willie has soon become his father-in-law's main business rival.


Britain's greatest ever film director David Lean wasn't feted for providing belly-laughs. His finest films, from Great Expectations (1946) to Lawrence of Arabia (1962) are resolutely sober, which is more than can be said of Henry Horatio Hobson in his wonderfully comic encounter with the moon in Hobson's Choice. Lean's only other comedy was Blithe Spirit (1945), but here he approaches matters of the heart with a surprising lightness of touch and wins a marvellous performance from Charles Laughton--himself soon to make his one and only film as a director, Night of the Hunter (1955). The setting is late-19th century Salford (the b/w location filming is exceptional), and widower Henry Hobson forbids his three daughters to marry to avoid paying their dowries. Romance will not be thwarted by economics, and much humorous conflict ensues, interspersed with some serious and even disturbing moments--the shaving scene when Laughton gets the DTs is a queasily unbalanced. Brenda De Banzie is splendidly spirited as the eldest daughter, Maggie, while her fiancie is played by the ever excellent John Mills, who would later win an Oscar for his part in Lean's much more serious love story, Ryan's Daughter (1970). --Gary S. Dalkin

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
Some of the finest talent in British cinema is combined in this comedy of social class and family pride. Brenda de Banzie provides a touching portrayal of strong willed Maggie, who takes charge of her own destiny, with comic and surprising results. John Mills shows his talent for comedy as the reluctant object of her affection and Charles Laughton excels as her stubborn and drunken father.
David Lean's gentle direction shows affection for the material and ensures the piece is both comic and poignant. The film brilliantly evokes the time and place and the contrasting situations of the social classes. The backstreet scenes of working class Salford are particularly notable.
This film is a rare treat. If you don't usually go for old black and white movies, this could be the one to make you change your mind. Watch and enjoy as Maggie defies convention and arranges a wedding....or two!
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Format: VHS Tape
Charles Laughton stars as Henry Hobson, a hard-drinking, self-opinionated, middle-class Victorian businessman. Henry is king of his own little world, a tyrant to his three daughters and ringleader of a clutch of bar-cronies. Finally, daughter Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) decides that she must move out from Henry’s shadow if she is to have a life of her own. Seizing on their simple, but talented boot-hand William Mossop (John Mills), she begins to scheme her way through to a life for herself and her sisters. Poor Henry soon finds himself hilariously outmaneuvered at every step. [B&W, created in 1953, with a running time of 107 minutes.]
This movie is a masterpiece at many levels; it is enormously funny, while at the same time showing Victorian society from a middle-class vantage point. Containing nothing really objectionable, it can be watched by all family members. As a matter of fact, my 8 year-old daughter likes watching this movie with me. I recommend this movie absolutely!
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Format: VHS Tape
For those who didn't know, and I was one of them, a Hobson's choice is a free choice, but where only one option is really available. At the end of Hobson's Choice, a fine, vulgar, poignant and very funny film directed by David Lean, this is what Henry Horatio Hobson faces. Elements of the plot are discussed.

Hobson (Charles Laughton) is a prosperous shoe and boot merchant in the small town of Salford, England. The time is the 1880s. Hobson is a widower, a blusterer, a man accustomed to his comforts, his drink and his ease. He is, thanks to Laughton, larger than life, a man we can laugh at but not a man we'd probably want as a neighbor. He has three daughters. Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) is 30. She is, says her father, "a bit ripe" for marriage at her age, and he plans to keep it that way. Maggie runs the store, keeps the books, sees to dinner and keeps the home above the store neat. Henry Hobson, or course, doesn't pay her wages because she is, after all, his daughter. His two younger daughters both have suitors, and that's just fine with him until he realizes he must give them dowries if they are to marry. There'll be no dowries from Henry Hobson.

And now we watch Maggie come into her own. She is a plain woman with an iron will, a determination that recognizes no barriers, and a very shrewd mind. If she is ever to get away from her father, she will have to find a man to marry her. And now we meet Willie Mossop (John Mills), the shoe worker who makes the shoes in the dingy basement under the store. Willie is just about illiterate, shy to a fault, naive, slow, honest and with very dirty hands. He is quite satisfied to stay in the basement making shoes.
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