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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Lean, Charles Laughton, John Mills and, especially, Brenda De Banzie, make a film worth every penny of Criterion's price
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...
Published on December 1, 2008 by C. O. DeRiemer

versus
2 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Easy Enough to Take; Can Be Entertaining
"Hobson's Choice," (1954), a classic British comedy, product of Shepperton Studios, runs a brisk 107 minutes in black and white. This feel-good domestic comedy was directed by the great multi-Oscar winning David Lean. Boozy widower Henry Horatio Hobson (Charles Laughton--The Private Life of Henry VIII [1933]) runs a successful boot shop in Salford, Lancashire, in 19th...
Published on July 4, 2011 by Stephanie De Pue


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79 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars David Lean, Charles Laughton, John Mills and, especially, Brenda De Banzie, make a film worth every penny of Criterion's price, December 1, 2008
By 
C. O. DeRiemer (San Antonio, Texas, USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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. In Willie Mossop, however, Maggie sees not just escape from her father, but a man who makes marvelous shoes, and a man she could make into a success with his own...their own...shop. She knows she can do this, and she'll find a way to secure dowries from their father for her two sisters while she's at it. It should come as no surprise that Maggie accomplishes all she sets out to do; that Willie becomes William Mossop whose shoes sell, who is endearing and honest and who has a far better haircut after Maggie takes charge. While Henry Hobson roars about, deep in the drink, full of self-pity and bluster (and as entertaining as only Charles Laughton could make him), we settle back and enjoy the sight of Maggie using her head, with energy and determination, to get the better of her old rogue of a father. Maggie not only finds Willie, but love, too. By the end of the movie, we've come to know a contented and successful couple. William and Maggie have given Henry Hobson a choice he would be foolish to refuse.

This is a vastly entertaining and satisfying movie, thanks to Lean, Laughton, Mills and, especially De Banzie. Laughton came to loath De Banzie during the filming, and the reason is as plain as De Banzie's plain but attractive face. The movie ostensibly is a showcase for Laughton. He plays Hobson bolder than life, vulgar, squinting, staggering drunk, too smart for his own good...a man full of faults and foibles we can laugh at more readily than laugh with. He has two major bits playing the drunk or hungover Hobson and he's very good. There are two major sly and finagling scenes with him which are even better. But Brenda De Banzie, a marvelous actor, steals the show. Just as Maggie carries the day, it is De Banzie who carries the movie. Laughton must have realized this would happen during their first scenes together. De Banzie starts by giving us a no-nonsense woman who knows how to get things done. Her decision to make Willie Mossop her man, to marry him, slowly lets us see just a little vulnerability. She's not going to take "no" from Willie, she will make him a success, but we begin to realize without her saying a word that she wants Willie to not find her unattractive. Their wedding night and the morning after is played for smiles, but they're tender smiles. We realize that Maggie made a good choice in Willie and that Willie realizes just how lucky he was. Henry Hobson may continue to bluster, enjoy his drink, expect his comforts and make us appreciate Laughton's bits of over-acting, but it is Maggie and William we feel good about. Together, they're going to be running things...and successfully, too.

The movie was released long ago on VHS tape and can still be tracked down. Criterion's DVD release, due in a couple of months, will undoubtedly give the movie the attention it deserves. I plan to buy it as soon as it's out and will add here my opinion of the extras. This is one of David Lean's finest films. Hopefully, the Criterion release also will bring more attention to what a fine actor Brenda De Banzie was.
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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
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This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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 vhs...it 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
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This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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
This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Watch It!, January 28, 2009
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This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The other reviewers have said most of what could & should be said about this wonderful movie, particularly the reviewer from San Antonio.

Back in my married days my mother in law was from Liverpool. She had never seen this movie, but of course knew of the term 'Hobsons Choice' as do all Brits (a choice which, in fact, is no choice at all).

I had recorded it on Betamax (this was almost 30 years ago) and had such a thrill at the Mother in Laws delight with this film.

Anything David Lean touched was instant gold, and ditto Laughton (except for a relative dry run in his 40's films). A particularly memorable scene is breakfast after the couples wedding night when Maggie has become docile and gives Will an adoring look and he seems ready to burst with pride at having performed his husbandly duties properly! Great stuff.

An equally great Laughton performance is in Witness for the Prosecution (dir: Billy Wilder) made in 1957, his next film after this one. His performance there netted his 3rd and final Best Actor nomination for the Academy Awards.

And an early Lean masterpiece set also in England is Brief Encounter. Try both of these as well, you will not be disappointed.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great!, June 8, 2010
This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
The Victorian Era is at its height, and Henry Hobson is the master of his little world, tyrannizing over his daughters and employees, and spending hours at the pubs with his cronies. However, daughter Maggie is laying plans down for a future of her own, and they all revolve around William Mossop, Hobson's best employee. Now it's up to Maggie to clear the way for her future and those of her sisters, and she's definitely up to the job!

This is a great movie, with a lot of fun and adventure. The actors do a great job of bringing life to the characters, making them seem as real as real can be, and keeping the story moving and fun throughout. This is a great story of life and love in Victorian England, one that I really like!

(Review of Hobson's Choice starring Charles Laughton, Brenda De Banzie and John Mills)
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Set in Salford - not London!, April 18, 2011
By 
SJ Bailey (Manchester, England.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I just wanted to write to put a few people right. 'Hobson's Choice' is set in Salford, Lancashire (it is now part of Greater Manchester) which is about 200 miles north of London. That's a lot in English miles! I didn't think that many Americans would have heard of this great film and (as a Mancunian myself)I can't help but feel a sense of preposterous pride well up inside me just knowing that this film is so beloved on the other side of the pond. This film is wonderful isn't it? I don't think there are many celluloid moments that beat Henry Hobson's mortal terror of the moon following him, going home from the pub. My favourite Charles Laughton performance: "VICKY!! DINNER!"
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful little comedy..., July 19, 2010
This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
... by epic filmmaker David Lean. A "Hobson's Choice" is akin to Don Corleone making an offer one can't refuse. In other words it is no choice at all. How Hobson's eldest daughter takes advantage of circumstance in order to put her overbearing, alcoholic father in this position is fascinating to watch. There is no situation Miss Hobson can't handle with decisiveness and dispatch. She is her father's daughter and has a great head for business. Dad has met his match.

The great Charles Laughton has a flair for humorous depiction and his comedic timing is perfect as the bootmaker who underestimates his eldest because she is a useless girl. Brenda De Banzie gives a nifty performance as the eldest daughter. She has to manage a somewhat mean-spirited, stingy, father who likes the drink too much, as well as her sneering younger sisters who think she is over-the-hill and beyond the age to attract a good husband. Although she is uber competent, it turns out that she is warm and inviting as well. Prunella Scales shows her comedic skill in this early portrayal (she is best known as Sybil Faulty from the hilarious "Faulty Towers.") as the youngest Hobson daughter who is selfish, vixenish, and calculating. John Mills is really splendid as the illiterate, humble, sweet and expert bootmaker who Miss Hobson decides to make into her father's chief professional rival. The rest of the cast never misses the mark. My personal favorites are the Figgins with whom John Mills boards. In fact we can never picture any other actors as the battling Hobsons and their friends and neighbors.

All works out as it should in the end, resulting in a satisfying film experience. Hobson can be a silent partner in his boot business as long as he butts out, shuts up and stops drinking of course. Don't miss this little jewel of British cinema.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Charming, British movie., March 24, 2011
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This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
This was the first British film i ever saw, in West Texas not many of those kinds of movies get out this way, and i absolutely loved it!!!! Its got a solid and interesting plot line with a splendid performance from the actors. I don't need to tell y'all the plot because there are several other reviews that do so. but this one part is so comical, on Willie and Maggie's wedding night Willie is just about to go in to his bride and hes so scared to death he squares his shoulders and marches into the bedroom as though it were to his own execution but the following morning its like there is a new-found love between the two. I like this movie because instead of the typical "fireworks" romance but instead a gradual and a growing tender love between the two so that by the end of the film I believe Maggie has the happiest marriage of the three sisters. aside from the wonderful film's plot and acting, it is sooo much fun listening to them talk! I have never in my whole life heard anyone talk like that, it was sooo neat to hear what an English accent sounds like. I wonder if this was actually filmed in London? anyway it was definitely on the expensive side especially for a DVD but it was worth it for such a great movie!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Joy to Watch, April 9, 2009
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This review is from: Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection) (DVD)
I have been looking for this DVD for a while and was thrilled to finally find it listed on Amazon. This is a real joy to watch. I watch it over and over. What a sweet story.
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Hobson's Choice (The Criterion Collection)
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