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HOBSON'S CHOICE, 1954
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  MOVIE POSTERHOBSON'S CHOICE, 1954
Movie Reviews

Director: David Lean

Stars: Charles Laughton, John Mills and Brenda De Banzie

Review by Russell Hill

SYNOPSIS:

A head-strong woman who works for her father's boot store decides to seize control over her life and start her own business with a talented boot maker.

REVIEW:

I hadn't seen this film for more than a decade until relatively recently. I first saw it at secondary school in English class and, to be honest, I didn't fully appreciate it because I was only a teenager at the time. As I'm now a huge fan of black and white films, this was the complete opposite when I was covered in acne because this gentle comedy is a brilliant movie.

Set in Manchester in the 1880's, Hobson (Laughton) owns a respected shoe shop. Employing his three adult daughters, Hobson decides one day that they can have husbands. However, Hobson won't allow all of his daughters to have a husband because his eldest will be the one who will look after the shop. Understandably, Maggie (De Banzie) is not happy and she aims to get her own husband. Taking a shine to the young boot maker named Will (Mills) who works for her father, Maggie notices his talent for shoemaking. However, will he return her romantic affections?

Based on Harold Brighouse's play of the same name, Hobson's Choice is a gentle comedy which made me chuckle. Hobson's Choice was released at a time when Britain still had rationing. Set during the Victorian Era when Britain had an Empire that controlled around a quarter of the world, Hobson's Choice aimed to cheer people up. There is great deprivation in Hobson's Choice, especially in the areas where Will's former beau lives. Much of the UK was still suffering from bomb damage and many people were living in cramped accommodation and the film aimed to show that, despite Britain's successes, hardship should still be accepted.

Maggie is an inspiring character. A head strong young woman who, despite her father saying that she is too old to marry, does whatever she wants in order to better her standing in life. The Second World War had inspired many women to want to have a better life, especially as they had raised families and done various jobs to help the war effort. Maggie demonstrates that, despite what others around her have said, you are responsible for making the most of your life.

John Mills is exceptional in Hobson's Choice. He was in gainful employment throughout his life and had such a huge variety to his talent. Two years prior to the release of this movie, he had starred as a convict seeking revenge in The Long Memory and, just four years after, he starred in Ice Cold in Alex where he played an alcoholic who is trying to travel to Alexandria across the desert during WWII - this is just the tip of the iceberg because Mills starred in other roles during this time. Will is a simple character who is a brilliant shoemaker. Although he is a stereotypically Northern character, largely because he cannot stop saying ‘By Gum', Will is an endearing person who audiences could relate to.

The world which Hobson and his daughters lived in might be long gone but, thanks to David Lean's expert direction and brilliant performances from all involved, it seems as real as ever.

ACTORDavid Lean
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORCharles Laughton
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORJohn Mills
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORBrenda de Banzie
Best of the ARTIST

ACTORDaphne Anderson
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORPrunella Scales
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORRichard Wattis
Best of the ARTIST
ACTORDerek Blomfield
Best of the ARTIST

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HOBSON'S CHOICE, 1954