Hobson’s Choice (1954)

It’s actually something of a relief that not every Criterion Collection release is an essential title, but regrettably/happily this one is.

Hobson’s Choice is a compact marvel of classic movie storytelling. Charles Laughton is unsurprisingly masterful as the boozy patriarch of a family in northern England but Brenda De Banzie is a revelation as his defiant daughter. It’s the type of role that could have gone to Kate Hepburn if this was a 40s American production but she may have imparted a subtext of insecurity to the character’s bravura. De Banzie’s Maggie follows her instincts with dead certainty and no apologies and is a completely formidable foil to the mighty Laughton. (Also among the great cast is a young Prunella Scales, the future Mrs. Basil Fawlty, as one of Maggie’s sisters.)

There are precious few clues that this movie comes from the hand of the director of Lawrence of Arabia, but while that movie suggests an outward infinity, Hobson’s Choice hints at the worlds within worlds of even small town life. And Maggie’s unlikely choice of a beau shows the potential for greatness from unexpected sources.

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2 Responses to “Hobson’s Choice (1954)”

  1. irie212 Says:

    Just a quick note of appreciation for this entry, and your blog in general.

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