Hobson's Choice ★★★★

What a thoroughly delightful comedy! I laughed out loud more times than I could count. Charles Laughton as bootmaker Henry Hobson is a real hoot. He's a heavy drinker, a single father of three eligible daughters, a bombastic boss to his workers, and he gets laughs from his wonderful sight gags as well as his bantering dialog.

Brenda de Banzie is easily Laughton's match as the headstrong eldest Hobson daughter Maggie. She lords over the boot shop, keeps the household under control, and takes no nonsense from her father. When she decides it's time to get married, as her future mate she picks her father's gifted master cobbler -- simple-minded William Mossop (John Mills) -- and she won't let anyone, including Mossop's current girlfriend or her mother, stand in her way.

The two younger Hobson daughters, Alice (Daphne Anderson) and Vicky (Prunella Scales), have their own beaus, neither of whom their father approves. When Hobson makes it clear that he'll offer no dowries, the younger girls despair of ending up spinsters. But Maggie has her own plans, which unfold even more beautifully over the next year than even she could hope for.

The scene at the Mossops' basement shophouse on their wedding night is hilariously well constructed, bringing all the key characters together in a plot to get Hobson's blessings for the nuptials of all three daughters. Then, the consumation of Will and Maggie's union is so skillfully portrayed that I almost blush now to think of it. What great characters!

I am just beginning to familiarize myself with the work of British director David Lean, and I understand this is one of only two comedies he ever made. Now I'm anxious to see the other one, "Blithe Spirit," as well as the four additional films of his that I've selected for this challenge.

Part of my 5 Directors x 5 Unseen Films (3) challenge.

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