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Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (2009)

Charles Laughton , John Mills , David Lean  |  NR |  DVD
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Laughton, John Mills, Brenda De Banzie
  • Directors: David Lean
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Criterion Collection
  • DVD Release Date: February 17, 2009
  • Run Time: 108 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001LMU1A0
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,895 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection)" on IMDb

Special Features


Editorial Reviews

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 fiance 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

Stills from Hobson's Choice (Click for larger image)

Product Description

An unsung comic triumph from David Lean, Hobson's Choice stars the legendary Charles Laughton as the harrumphing Henry Hobson, the owner of a boot shop in late-Victorian Northern England. With his haughty, independent daughter Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) decides to forge her own path, romantically and professionally, with the help of none other than Henry's prized bootsmith Will (a splendid John Mills), father and daughter find themselves head-to-head in a fiery match of wills. Equally charming and caustic, Hobson's Choice, adapted from Harold Brighouse's famous play, is filled to the brim with great performances and elegant, inventive camera work.

New high-definition digital transfer--restoration by the BFI National Archive, funded by the David Lean Foundation and StudioCanal
Audio commentary featuring film scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini, co-authors of David Lean and His Films
The Hollywood Greats: Charles Laughton, a 1978 BBC documentary about the actor s life and career, featuring interviews with his friends and colleagues
Theatrical trailer
PLUS: A new essay by critic Armond White

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
80 of 85 people found the following review helpful
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. Please note that 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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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all time favotites... December 22, 2008
By Lili
I cannot even begin to descibe the tenderness, humor, and subtle life lessons in this movie. It cannot help but be entertaining and uplifting in the truest sense. I have this on is so worn from watching...I have loaned it to many friends who have said that in the first few minutes they are wondering why I love it so much, and then they are gradually brought to the point where they are enchanted with the sweet lessons of self-determination, true love, and the beautiful transformation of Willie as Maggie sees in him what even he cannot see. A man well treated by a woman does so much for his confidence....And as for maggie...How lovely to see the message that we make our own happiness in life.
There are so many favorite moments, but i agree with the earlier review that Maggie(DeBanzie) steals the show. Nearly every scene with her in it contains my favorite moments A random bit...but one of my favorite moments is right at the wedding supper...True love is seeing the good in our spouse and helping them believe it. I also really like the snip of a scene earlier in the film when Willie realizes that he will never be going back to his old life and his sheer disbelief and joy.
This is a sure winner with the quality of Miracle on 34th street, a movie that will be watched over and over. Treat yourself and buy on for your mother!
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I've been waiting for this for years January 5, 2009
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
This is a great comedy from the golden age of British film in the '50s
by one of the all time great directors, dealing with the issue of
sexism and the British class system with a marvelous performance by
Charles Laughton as the self-satisfied, pompous boot shop owner (boots
are what they call shoes in England). If you liked The Man In A White
Suit, Kind Hearts And Coronets, et al, you'll love this film.

With the release of this film and John Schlesinger's Far From The
Madding Crowd on DVD I'm two films closer to having all my wishes
fulfilled. I hope the transfer is O.K., but I'll buy it anyway. Now
if we could just get The Jokers with Oliver Reed and Michael Crawford,
and all the other great overlooked British films on DVD.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Surpirised how I fell in love with this movie. January 15, 2010
I really enjoy David Lean films, and I watched this not knowing beforehand what it was about.

I know the phrase "Hobson's choice" is Cockney Rhymming Slang for "voice"; and the phrase means to be given only one choice; the choice to accept what is offered or nothing at all.

The story is about a retailer named Hobson who is a widower with 3 adult daughters. One day he decides the two younger daughers are too silly and expensive to have around and so he becomes determinded to marry them off.

The eldest daughter is very good at housekeeping and tending the family boot shop and so he wants her to stay; therefore he tells her she is an old spinster past the age to marry. Well this goads her into taking fate into her own hands.

We start to see a shift in the meaning of the title; perhaps its referring just as much or moreso for the eldest daughter as for her father. I also like the moral lesson of equality offered for couples who are already married or considering marriage.

The story kept me guessing until the very end, and I found myself falling in love with the story. Its very well told and very funny but under the humor is this shining truth that persists and inspires me forward.

I heartily recommend this film to everyone. The message of story is certainly far ahead of its time, and still very relevant now.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless, classic movie--Outstanding conversion to digital format!!
This is an outstanding conversion of this timeless classic movie to DVD. Our VHS copy was really bad and I wanted a nice copy. Read more
Published 3 days ago by GHS
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
A must for all movie buffs
Published 18 days ago by Bob Hume
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Movie
This was a gift for my husband, who loves it. Since the purchase he has watched it several times, telling me each time what a great movie it is.
Published 25 days ago by Cynthia Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Favorite.
One of my favorite movies. One of those you can watch over and over.
Published 27 days ago by Melodyf
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great movie well done
Published 1 month ago by Albert M Hays, Jr
5.0 out of 5 stars An absolute delight, beginning to end, with a truly captivating...
David Lean directed this wonderfully delightful film, based on a British stage play, and populated with the likes of Charles Laughton, John Mills, and a truly wonderful Brenda De... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ron2BSure
5.0 out of 5 stars hobson's choice
funny, it shows how a talent was within someone and it took someone else to bring it out of an individual.
Published 7 months ago by Joyce Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars A tour-de-force! **Extra** it has English SUBTITLES!!!
Update: Found English subtitles on computer by clicking Right mouse button> "Navigate> Subtitle Menu> Enable" - NOT mentioned in material/features and not accessible from menus! Read more
Published 8 months ago by Hollywood Child
5.0 out of 5 stars WE like the odlies
Charles Laughton never fails. A good addition to our oldies library. Good entertainment at the right price. I highly recommend it.
Published 8 months ago by Vince
5.0 out of 5 stars Hobson's Choice
This classic movie was so delightful if you like old films. Charles Laughton was fabulous in this film. I'm so glad it was available to purchase. Thank You Amazon
Published 9 months ago by Janet Gray
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