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Hobson’s Choice (1954, Charles Laughton, John Mills)

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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 Hobson’s Choice.

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.

production details
UK / London Films / 107 minutes / 1954

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

cast
Charles Laughton as Henry Horatio Hobson
John Mills as Willie Mossop
Brenda De Banzie as Maggie Hobson
Daphne Anderson as Alice Hobson
Prunella Scales as Vicky Hobson
Joseph Tomelty as Jim Heeler
Julien Mitchell as Sam Minns
Gibb McLaughlin as Tudsbury
Dorothy Gordon as Ada Figgins
Madge Brindley as Mrs. Figgins
Jack Howarth as Tubby Wadlow
Philip Stainton as Denton
Helen Haye as Mrs. Hepworth
Richard Wattis as Albert Prosser
Raymond Huntley as Nathaniel Beenstock
John Laurie as Dr. McFarlane

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