Hobson’s Choice (UK, 1954)

Directed by: David Lean. This was my first David Lean joint and my first time seeing the legendary Charles Laughton in action. I’d seen his name floating around before, as the director of the highly recommended (and I highly recommend it to you as well) fable-noir Night of the Hunter, apparently his only attempt behind the camera. Laughton certainly did have a singular presence in front of the screen, and his largesse in cinematic history is such that, the more I hear about it, the more astounded I am that I never came across him more often. I must have saw him hamming it up in Spartacus, but it’s been a long time. David Lean is another name that comes up a lot, and yet I have never checked him out. This was a great two birds/one stone scenario. I picked this up on a whim, and it didn’t exactly blow me away, but it turned out to be an enjoyable little movie. It’s such a nice, quaint little world Lean creates, and Laughton is the perfect personality to guide us through it. The real heart and soul of the movie, though, are the characters Maggie and Willy—Brenda de Banzie and John Mills. They all contribute to this sort of whimsical tone, this deliberate unreality that the film operates in, which makes it a delight to watch. I’d recommend this one to anyone who likes to think of old movies as quaint and lovable, and to people who love watching big fat guys overact.

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