Hobson's Choice

Critics Consensus

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90%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 20

91%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 1,677
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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

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
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
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
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Critic Reviews for Hobson's Choice

All Critics (20) | Top Critics (5)

Audience Reviews for Hobson's Choice

  • Jan 30, 2016
    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. W Super Reviewer
  • Jun 11, 2013
    Henry Hobson (played by Charles Laughton) owns a bootmaker shop in 1800s England. He has a soft spot for the pubs and has three daughters. He wishes for the two youngest to have a marriage, but doesn't want to pay the fee. He wants to hog the oldest Maggie for himself and the shop. Basically nothing goes Hobsons way. The most comedic element for me of this whole film was Charles Laughton himself. I just found him hilarious in his role of the wretched Hobson, and just his facial expressions could make me laugh. I never did reach the pity from him that I believe David Lean was trying to reach by the end, just because I couldn't take the character seriously. This had its ups and downs as far as how I viewed the film. I couldn't finish this in one sitting though. Not that the film is dull in pace, but it's not the most exciting adventure. Which is fine since it gives the movie a cozy feel. The characters outside of Hobson are one-dimensional. The three daughters are predictable. Willy developed to an extent, but the rest just stayed in place. This was in total a decent comedy, and David Leans first impression on me.
    Daniel D Super Reviewer
  • Apr 26, 2011
    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 Super Reviewer
  • Jan 25, 2009
    I imagine that it's hard for an actor to stand toe-to-toe with the likes of Charles Laughton, but John Mills does himself proud. What a delightful, very British, comedy classic.
    Randy T Super Reviewer

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