David Lean is one of the greatest film directors this country has ever produced. When it comes to period dramas, Oliver Twist and Great Expectations normally take the plaudits, but as far as I’m concerned, I think Hobson’s Choice is his best. To celebrate its 60th anniversary of this wonderful film, Studio Canal are releasing a special edition which includes a fully restored print.
Set in Salford in the 1890s, Henry Horatio Hobson (Charles Laughton) runs a successful boot-making business. As the tyrannical head of the family and widower, he lives with three daughters who take care of his every need, not to mention the shop. His daughters want to marry, and whilst Henry is prepared to part with Alice (Daphne Anderson) and Vicky (Prunella Scales), he relies too much on his eldest Maggie (Brenda de Banzie) to let her go. Maggie decides to take matters into her own hands and sets her sights on their talented bootboy Will (John Mills), but Henry isn’t going to stand for it. When her father’s drinking gets him into trouble, Maggie sees an opportunity to take advantage of the situation and make everything right for her and her sisters.
Hobson’s Choice hold its head up high amongst the best of British cinema, with Charles Laughton producing a wonderfully over the top performance as the drunken patriarch. It’s worth watching for his performance alone. John Mills is also entirely wonderful as the “common” man moving up in the world and discovering confidence in himself. However, it’s Brenda de Banzie who rules the roost over the pair of them. Adapted from the stage, Hobson’s Choice has all the charm and intoxication of the theatre whilst translating perfectly to the big screen.
Hobson’s choice is a charming, funny and heart-warming film, which is as fun to watch today as it would have been when originally released in the 1950s.
Hobson’s Choice is released by Studio Canal on Blu-Ray and DVD on 5th May.