Hobson’s Choice (1954 with Charles Laughton and John Mills)


UK / 1954

Director: David Lean
Writers: David Lean, Norman Spencer, Wynyard Browne, from the play by Harold Brighouse

Cast: Charles Laughton, John Mills, Brenda de Banzie, Daphne Anderson, Prunella Scales, Richard Wattis, Derek Blomfield

John Mills delivers a superb performance in this fine screen adaptation (by director David Lean, Norman Spencer and Wynyard Browne) of Harold Brighouse’s classic Lancashire comedy

Charles Laughton (returning to Alexander Korda’s London Films after a 14-year absence), was ideally cast as the eponymous Hobson, a cantankerous, overbearing Lancashire boot-maker who spends most of his time drinking while his three daughters, Maggie, Alice and Vicky (Brenda de Banzie, Daphne Anderson and Prunella Scales) run his shop and home. He decides that Alice and Vicky should marry, but abandons the idea when he learns that he will have to pay marriage settlements.

The oldest daughter, Maggie, decides for herself that she should get married and picks her father’s timid clerk Willie Mossop (John Mills). The determined Maggie buys Mossop a shop, marries him, and borrows money to set him up in business in opposition to her father. She also manages to use one of her father’s drunken episodes to trick him into providing marriage settlements for her sisters. A few months of marriage give Mossop self-confidence and Hobson, abandoned by his daughters and increasingly prey to drink, falls victim to Maggie’s final coup.