Hobson's Choice (1953)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

A "Hobson's Choice," as any slang expert will tell you, is no choice at all. In this 1953 filmization of Harold Brighouse's 1915 play Hobson's Choice, hero John Mills finds after several reels of evidence to the contrary that he does have a choice over how he'll conduct his life after all. Mills is the assistant to domineering boot-shop owner Charles Laughton, who lords it over his employees and three daughters by day, then tumbles through the streets on many a drunken evening. Laughton's "old-maid" daughter Brenda DeBanzie breaks free of her father's tyranny, marries Mills, and together with her new husband sets up a rival boot shop when Laughton refuses her a dowry. Father rants and raves, but finally agrees to a merger with his daughter that will assure Mills a large measure of freedom over managing things. The winner of the British Film Institute "Best Film" award of 1954, Hobson's Choice chalked up another international success for director David Lean. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi
Classics , Comedy , Drama , Romance
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


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
Richard Wattis
as Albert Prosser
Derek Blomfield
as Freddy Beenstock
Helen Haye
as Mrs. Hepworth
Joseph Tomelty
as Jim Heeler
Julien Mitchell
as Sam Minns
Gibb McLaughlin
as Tudsbury
Dorothy Gordon
as Ada Figgins
Madge Brindley
as Mrs. Figgins
John Laurie
as Dr. MacFarlane
Raymond Huntley
as Nathaniel Beenstock
Jack Howarth
as Tubby Wadlow
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Hobson's Choice

All Critics (19) | Top Critics (5)

Hobson's Choice is a cheerful little slice of death, warmed over and served with some lively comic sauces by Producer-Director David Lean and Actor Charles Laughton.

Full Review… | May 1, 2013
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

Although Laughton richly overplays every major scene, his performance remains one of the film's highlights.

Full Review… | March 25, 2009
Top Critic

A delightful and rewarding British film.

Full Review… | March 24, 2006
New York Times
Top Critic

Lean's sharp direction and impeccable performances all round transform a slight comedy into a timeless delight.

Full Review… | February 8, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

David Lean directed, with wit and tact.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

No excerpt available.

Full Review… | August 18, 2009
Movie Metropolis

Audience Reviews for Hobson's Choice

Although it pretends to be about shop owner Laughton and his difficulties with his trio of daughters, David Lean's intimate little comedy is really about one daughter's triumphant break for freedom from the shackles of a drunken male patriarchy and her taking a simple shop's assistant with her. It's the humanity in this that counts and the actors are wonderful conveying just that.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer


I usually associate David Lean with sweeping epics, so I was pleasantly surprised by this light comedy. Charles Laughton plays Hobson, the blustery owner of a bootmaking shop in 1890s London and father of 3 daughters. The oldest (Brenda de Banzie), not married at the ripe old age of 30 and in danger of becoming an "old maid", pursues and marries (out of spite) the best bootmaker in her father's shop. This of course infuriates her father, who had decided she shouldn't marry and should dedicate her life to caring for him and the bootshop, puts his foot down in efforts to stop her. But fortunately the daughter is as stubborn as he is, and gets her way. Laughton does comedy better than I expected he would, and John Mills as good as well as the unwitting bridegroom. A little side treat was to catch Prunella Scales (of Faulty Towers fame) as a teenager playing Hobson's youngest daughter.

Cindy I
Cindy I

Super Reviewer


jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

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