Hobson's Choice

1954

Action / Comedy / Drama / Romance

61
Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 95%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 92%
IMDb Rating 7.7 10 5334

Synopsis


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Director

Cast

Charles Laughton as Henry Hobson
John Mills as William Mossop
Prunella Scales as Vicky Hobson
John Laurie as Dr. McFarlane
720p.BLU 1080p.BLU
808.49 MB
1280*720
English
NR
24.000 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 2 / 3
1.64 GB
1920*1080
English
NR
24.000 fps
1hr 48 min
P/S 0 / 1

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Andreas Vilic 10 / 10

A lot of comedy in a true drama

I am delighted by this movie. Every character is unique and great. It shows so many sides to human nature that there are no people on this planet which couldn't find something of themselves in any of the characters. When you see the movie and think about it, you wouldn't lough if someone would just tell you the story, but when you see it, the funny part is that there is so much of it true, where ever you may look, even in your own family. Just fantastic!

Reviewed by JohnHowardReid 9 / 10

A gem of a movie!

Producer: David Lean. Executive producer: Alexander Korda. A London Film Production, made in association with British Lion Film Corporation at Shepperton Studios, England. (Available on an excellent Optimum DVD). London Film Productions, copyright 18 June 1954 (in notice 1953) by British Lion Film Corporation, Ltd. Released in the U.S.A. by United Artists: 11 June 1954. New York opening at the Paris: 14 June 1954. U.K. release through British Lion: 19 April 1954. Australian release through Universal- International: 15 July 1954. Sydney opening at the Embassy. 9,675 feet. 107 minutes.

NOTES: One of the best films of 1954. — Bosley Crowther in The New York Times. Best British Film of 1954. — British Film Academy.

Third film version of the Brighouse play, originally filmed in 1920 by Percy Nash with Arthur Pitts as Hobson and Joan Ritz as Maggie. In the 1931 version, scripted by Frank Launder and directed by Thomas Bentley, James Harcourt played Hobson, Viola Lyel was Maggie, Frank Pettingell played Will, the wonderful Belle Chrystal essayed Vicky, Amy Veness was Mrs Hepworth, whilst two of the best character players in British cinema, Herbert Lomas and Kathleen Harrison, appeared as Jim Heeler and Ada Figgins, respectively.

COMMENT: Enlivened by one of Malcolm Arnold's finest scores, and brilliantly over-scored by the gloriously prickly acting of Charles Laughton who consummately steals every scene in which he appears, Hobson's Choice is such a gloriously engrossing delight, we can even forgive one or two dull passages with Mills and de Banzie — and a Third Act that isn't anywhere near as uproariously funny as the first two.

Fortunately, the brilliant David Lean is obviously aware of these shortcomings, for he's wisely retained the 1885 Lancashire setting of the Brighouse play, keeping it firmly in period throughout, with lots of grimy streets and cheek-by-jowl tenements brilliantly contrasted with the overstuffed bric-a-brac and crowded gew-gaws of the Hepworth drawing-room and the equally claustrophobic interiors of the various shops and establishments of Salford's main street.

The photography by Jack Hildyard reveals his mastery of black-and- white. (He then set out to conquer color, winning a Hollywood award for Bridge on the River Kwai and photographing such other prestige blockbusters as 55 Days at Peking, The V.I.P.s, Battle of the Bulge and Casino Royale, as well as movies like The Millionairess and The Sundowners).

Editing, art direction and costume design are likewise fine examples of superlative craftsmanship. In fact, all technical credits are absolutely top-grade. Director Lean obviously knows what he wants from the Brighouse play, and producer Lean has spared no expense in bringing the sets and characters to the screen.

But Hobson's Choice is not just compellingly or even uproariously picturesque. Nor is it just also farcically funny. But it's a wonderful study of various characters under duress and how, inspired by one rebellious radical in their midst, they overcome their shackles.

Although Laughton is rightly allowed to dominate the film, the other players too have their opportunities to make an impression. All seize those opportunities with such gusto, it would be wrong to single out one or two, but I'm going to anyway. The wonderful Helen Haye (see Wings of the Morning and The Man in Grey) stands up to Laughton with the wonderfully aggressive spirit of the rudely aristocratic rich (and even has no qualms in shaking down de Banzie for an usurious twenty per cent interest).

And much as we admire the Dickensian Gibb McLaughlin's "old womanish" Tudsbury, or the hanger-on Joseph Tomelty's crawling Heeler, or even the short-changing Julien Mitchell's hotelier, it's the slurping, straw-hatted Denton, so compellingly played by Philip Stainton that gets our number-one vote for best supporting actor.

All in all, despite one or two minor flaws, a gem of a movie.

Reviewed by Brucey D 9 / 10

" ..I felt quite intoxicated!"; ... "there's plenty enough of that in this family already"

Patriarch and widower Hobson is used to as much hard drinking as he likes and otherwise having his own way, both at home and at the family bootmakers, until his three daughters decide to wed. Led by the eldest, they make lives for themselves, even if it means making a few sacrifices along the way.

This is a Victorian play, adapted for the screen in a masterfully directed production with David Lean at the helm, Jack Hildyard behind the camera, and Charles Laughton, John Mills, and Brenda de Banzie putting in first class performances in the lead roles. A very young Prunella Scales, John Laurie, and Richard Wattis (amongst others) fill out the excellent cast.

The title deserves explanation; perhaps not everyone will be familiar with the phrase "Hobson's Choice", but it comes from a 16th/17th century Cambridge livery stable owner (the Hertz rental of its day I suppose). This Hobson became (in)famous for giving his customers two choices of horse; the one he selected for them i.e. next in line, or no horse. There are streets and a watercourse named for Hobson in Cambridge to this day; same Hobson.

In this story, this Hobson eventually ends up on the receiving end of the same treatment as he dished out for years.

I'm not from Lancashire, but I've known, (worked with, and narrowly avoided marrying) folk from those parts and I'd say the accents are not unrealistic. If English-speakers from other parts have a hard time understanding what they are on about, take solace; the accents may be realistic, but they are somewhat toned down by comparison with how they could have been; also, no one says " 'eck as like", "well I'll go to the foot of our stairs", calls one another "barmcakes" or any one of a hundred other possible Lancashire-isms.

Grimy Salford (see L.S. Lowry) in the 1950s needed relatively little effort to pass as 'Victorian', yet those murky streets are at times somehow made to look magical in this film. The direction and photography are of exceptional quality, and the Malcom Arnold score underpins the performances nicely. The whole film is excellently crafted, and truly, it is hard to find anyone putting a foot wrong anywhere.

You will either find Laughton's drunken antics very funny, or you won't, but the older I get, the funnier I think they are. Modern audiences may find the film's pacing a little slow, a little uneven, but that is perhaps the nature of the story as much as anything else.

For me the only thing that spoilt my enjoyment of a recent TV broadcast here in the UK was the sound quality; just a few times an artefact of the analogue to digital to analogue conversion process must go awry, leaving some sustained musical notes with a very distinct 'warble' to them.

First class, by Gum!

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