Hobson’s Choice (1954)

Hobson’s Choicehobsons-choice
Directed by David Lean
Written by David Lean, Norman Spencer, and Wynyard Brown from a play by Harold Brighouse
London Film Productions/British Lion Film Corporation
Repeat viewing/Netflix rental


Maggie Hobson: I’ve been watching you for a long time and everything I’ve seen I’ve liked. I think you’ll do for me.

This is an excellent feel-good film with a fine comic performance from Charles Laughton.

The setting is the North of England in the 19th Century.  Henry Hobson (Laughton) must have been good for something at one time because he has a thriving boot shop.  Now, however, the widower spends his time terrorizing his three daughters and drinking at the local pub.  In fact,he is in the end stages of alcoholism (comic edition).

Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) is the eldest of the girls and takes care of the business end of the shop and most of the housekeeping.  She is around 30.  Her younger sisters both have beaus.  However, Hobson resolutely refuses to pay the traditional marriage settlement.


One day, a wealthy customer comes in to ask who made the boots she is wearing, because she likes them so much.  It turns out to be rabbit-like boot hand William Mossop (John Mills).  Thereafter, Maggie makes it her mission to marry him.

The rest of the story chronicles how Maggie outsmarts everyone to solve all romantic, domestic, and financial crises.  In the process, we get to witness William transform from a mouse to a man.

hobsonThis is really well-done with typical Lean flourishes in the camera work.  The acting is uniformly excellent.  I generally detest comic drunks but this is the exception.  Laughton is genuinely funny while at the same time being believable.  Highly recommended.

This was the last black-and-white film made by Lean.

No trailer or clip so here’s some music

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