Mrs Henderson Presents  [DVD]
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Frequently Bought Together
Comedy starring Judi Dench as Laura Henderson, a widow who is not by any means, going to spend the rest of her days playing bridge. The Windmill Theatre becomes her game and the infamous showman Vivian Van Dam (Bob Hoskins) becomes her partner and fiercest opponent. The Germans are bombing London but the roar of the Windmill is all that can be heard, as Laura convinces Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest) to allow her actresses to be the one thing no one could ever imagine: nude. Brought to its knees by war, what Mrs Henderson Presents brings a nation to its feet in applause.
The blitz-bombing of London in World War II provides the serious backdrop for the uplifting entertainment of Mrs. Henderson Presents, a delightful comedy anchored by the flawless performances of Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins.
After losing a son in World War I, and becoming a widow in 1937, the wealthy and respectable Mrs. Henderson (Dench) decides that the best way to support soldiers going off to battle is to give them a wartime send-off they'll never forget. Thus, she buys and renovates the Windmill Theatre in London's Soho district, hires Mr. Vivian Van Damm (Hoskins) as the impresario of an all-day musical variety show called "Revudeville," and secures permission from the censorious Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest) to include naked women in the stage show--on the condition that the ladies remain still onstage to qualify as "art," like nude portraits in a gallery, with the "foliage" of their "midlands" discreetly obscured. "Revudeville" is an instant hit, British propriety remains tastefully intact, and as The Windmill's fortunes rise, fall, and rise again, Mrs. Henderson Presents develops an emotional depth and good-natured nobility that's perfectly matched to the comedy of tweaking British manners.
Working from an eloquently witty, fact-based screenplay by Martin Sherman, director Stephen Frears (High Fidelity) brings out the best in a well-chosen cast, and Andrew Dunn's cinematography (enhanced by judicious use of digital effects to show the London blitz in progress) casts a warm, inviting glow over this winning tale of show-biz tenacity in the best and worst of times. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
Based on a true story, the movie begins in 1937 when the wealthy Laura Henderson (Dench) has just been widowed. Refusing to go gently into widowhood, Laura heeds the advice of her friend Lady Conway (a riotous Thelma Barlow) and finds herself a hobby. But she just can't handle needlepoint, and being a board member on various charities just isn't her thing, so instead, she decides to buy a run down property on Great Windmill Street in Soho with the intention of turning it into a theater.
Of course, Mrs. Henderson knows nothing about running a music hall, so she enlists the help of Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins), a currently unemployed theatre manager. The problem is that Laura and Vivian don't exactly see eye to eye - Vivian sees Laura as snotty and rude, a product of her privileged class, while Laura views Vivian as "Jewish" a cigar smoker who is kind of low class.
It doesn't help that they also end up clashing professionally. They're both strong willed individuals, who each have different artistic visions for the theater, with most of their time taken up arguing and trading acerbic barbs at one another. But eventually they manage to sort out their differences and make a go at it, and success comes quickly, with shows running almost continually. This daily novelty, however, can't withstand competition from movie houses and other vaudeville shows in the West End.Read more ›
If you'd told me before I had heard of "Mrs Henderson Presents", that in one of the more moving and amusing films I would see this year, the actress playing a septuagenarian widow would completely steal the show from a bevy of attractive younger women who spend much of the film without their clothes, I would have found it hard to believe but the answer can be explained in two words - Judi Dench.
Dame Judi plays Mrs Lilian Henderson: the film starts with her husband's funeral, and shortly thereafter in one of the many sad parts of the film she flies to France to visit the grave of her only son, who had been killed in the first world war aged 21. "Bored with widowhood" and looking for something to do, she buys the Windmill theatre and hires Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run it. Come the second world war, she decides to entertain the troops by putting on displays of naked girls.
The film is at times very sad, and at others very funny. All the acting is superb, especially from Dench, Hoskins, Christopher Guest who plays the Lord Chamberlain, Thelma Barlow as one of Mrs Henderson's friends, plus Will Young and Kelly Reilly as cast members. Some people wondered if a more extreme parody of the Lord Chamberlain by soneone like John Cleese would have been funnier: personally I thought Christopher Guest's understated embarrasment and outrage worked better than a slapstick, over-the-top peformance would have.
This film could easily have been rude, cheesy, or unsophisticated, but it was none of those things. Clearly not everyone liked it, but a lot of other people did, and I was one of them. I think it deserved the critical acclaim.
It is really well acted, it is great that they brought the story of the windmill theatre to life. Both my children aged 12 and 13 also really enjoyed the film.
I have already pre ordered it just to watch it again!!!!
This movie is absolutely charming, thanks to the wonderful Judy Dench and Bob Hoskins. Dench is always such a pleasure to watch; she simply owns the screen. Her character is snobbish, rigid, and quite loveable. Hoskins is the perfect match for her. He's just as outrageously snobbish as she is, and their scenes together are the best in the movie. There's lots of 30s and 40s music and lots of nudes. It's a touching, sweet little film, and knowing it really happened makes it even better.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Nostalgic memories of The Windmill Theatre in the sixties. Great stuff for a testosterone-filled teenager. Part of life's education, but done with delicacy and good taste !.Published 9 days ago by B. L. Potter
The DD arrived well before the delivery date and was well received as a gift to a friend.Published 2 months ago by Allan Calverley
Having lived nearby for many years, this was an interesting bit of history with lovely performances.Published 2 months ago by Ann L
Saw the show - enjoyed the DVD. Basically the same story but with a big difference in the ending with different people killed by the bomb!Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
I had this book before but it was stolen in a burglary. It is humour and touching AT TIMES BUT A WONDERFUL dvd GO Out and order it!Published 4 months ago by flonker