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4.5 out of 5 stars
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4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 28 January 2006
This is a great movie,the fictionalised account of Laura Henderson a rich widow in the 1930's who bought the decrepit Windmill Theatre in Soho and turned into a legendary venue during the war years.The Windmills Reveue-deville shows were the first to show actual nudity on stage and became a sensation.All this is well put together in a great movie with outstanding performances from Dame Judi,Bob Hoskins as her right hand man and manager Vivian Van Damme the brains behind the operation,and singer Will Young playing a 1930's version of himself a posh,gay,chap ,it fairly zips along and is well worth watching certainly one for Sunday nights with the whole family in front of the tv.
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on 27 January 2006
Stephen Frears directs acting legend Dame Judy Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents, a spectacular and thoroughly entertaining film that is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Expect Oscar nominations for both Bob Hopkins and the legendary Dench.
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.
Laura decides to add nude young women to the mix, hoping that it will increase attendance, but her old friend the Lord Chamberlain (Christopher Guest) isn't wild about the idea. He tells her that he'll reluctantly license the show as long as the naked ladies stand perfectly still on stage, thereby skirting around the draconian English censorship laws.
Mrs. Henderson Presents is everything one should expect from a British film, and in the hands of a director of the caliber of Stephen Frears, the film is an absolute pleasure to watch. Spanning from the pre-war years up until the London blitz, the film captures the darker pulses of the Second World War, while also remaining strangely lighthearted in tone and character.
Thanks to a gorgeously fluid script by Martin Sherman, and the talented cast, the film is mostly pitch perfect. The musical interludes have a flashy charm there's the presence of fourteen vintage stage musical numbers, including Benny Goodman's Goody Goody and the classically jaunty Babies of the Blitz. The supporting players also lend a startling authenticity to the proceedings - Kelly Reilly is particularly memorable as a spunky Windmill girl and cute Pop Idol winner Will Young makes an appealing big screen debut as Bertie, the theater's resident male ingénue, who tells Laura that he's "of the other persuasion."
Mrs. Henderson Presents may be old-fashioned, but it's also witty, and lots of fun. But make no mistake; this is Ms. Dench's film. And while Hoskins is delightful as Laura's foil, it is really the grand Dame of British acting that steals the show and takes command of the film. She's just pitch perfect in the role of "a most exasperating woman," who says whatever's on her mind, and has an endlessly sharp tongue. This is one of her best roles. Mike Leonard December 05.
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This is one of those films which you either love or hate. It is based on a true story.

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.
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on 19 February 2006
I went to see mrs henderson presents at the cinema and it is really a brillient film!! Will Young is really good as bertie and Dame Judie Dench and Bob Hoskins are really funny.
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!!!!
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This true story opens in 1930s London where wealthy dowager Laura Henderson (Judi Dench) has just been widowed and is at a loss as to how to fill her time. On a lark, buys a broken-down music hall in the West End and hires Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to run the revue. He's every bit as stubborn and opinionated as she is and the two make an uneasy team at first. To boost sagging ticket sales, Mrs. Henderson suggests the show use nude models in tableaux. The theatre becomes a big hit, especially with the young soldiers during wartime. Mrs. Henderson and Van Damm learn to trust and respect each other, after sharing their deepest secrets.

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.
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on 3 November 2006
This was a gentle, surprising tale with amusing overtones, which touched the soul, all the more as it is based on a true story, however romanticised. Judi Dench and the supporting cast are truly wonderful and I could watch it over and over again.
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on 29 December 2005
This film is excellent, well worth buying! It features brilliant performances from all the cast, in particular Judy Dench as mrs henderson, who sets up her own theatre showing musical reviews to distract herself from being a widow, and from Will Young as the young actor singing in the shows. Many will have heard about the nakedness in the film, but it is tastefully presented, and not in any way gratuitous. the only fault with the film? perhaps it being a 12, definately should be a 15!!
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on 22 April 2006
I loved the film when I saw it and bought the DVD the minute I knew it was out. Watching it on the small screen for the second time was as delightful as the first. I also have the sound track CD. Judy Dench, as ever puts in a great performance that is funny and poignant when needed. The relationship between her character and Bob Hoskins' character is lovely to watch. Will Young does a good job in his debut movie. He suits the era and the songs he has to sing are great. My only complaint is that he didn't have a bigger part. This is a must-see film.
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on 14 February 2006
Have just seen this excellent film It had all the nostalgia and humour of Judy Denchs films I will certainly watch again
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VINE VOICEon 8 September 2006
I chose to watch Mrs Henderson Presents purely because I believe that Pathe films make very good quality films... and maybe a little bit because Will Young is in it!

Thankfully, Pathe didn't let me down with this film (they did with a film they released after named Silent Hill, but that's a whole other review!) Mrs. Henderson Presents can simply be described as charming. It's a quaint, laid back, Sunday afternoon gentle comedy with some lovely characters and a great storyline.

Judi Dench shines in this film. She has some excellent one-liners which had me giggling in the isles when I watched this movie, and her role is supported well by Bob Hoskins, whose acting was flawless in this film.

The acting shock for me came from the supporting role which Will Young played in the film. Typically (for a singer in a movie) he had a singing part, which (of course) he did very well. But as an actor, I felt Will Young did very well. To be honest, even if he was pretty bad I'd still say he were fair, but I do believe that he was actually very good, and I expect this movie shall lead on to great (acting) things for Young.

The film is very tame in its nudity, meaning it is suitable for a family audience, and despite the fact the film is set in War-Time Britain it isn't doesn't close doors on various audience sectors for that reason.

Mrs. Henderson Presents is a perfect, enjoyable, British comedy, and I recommend it to you without reserve.

10/10
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