By Arthur Flynn
One of the big and most successful film hits of the 1950s was the British romantic comedy Hobson’s Choice, directed by David Lean. It was based on the play of the same name by Harold Brighouse that had a long successful stage history prior to the film. Hobson’ Choice opened on Broadway in 1915 and ran for 135 performances. The play also appeared on the London stage with a successful run.
David Lean was assigned to direct the film version. In later years Lean was to become associated with sweeping epic films such as Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) and Ryan’s Daughter (1970).
In his earlier years he had mainly brought classics such as Major Barbara (1941), The Happy Breen (1944), Brief Encounter (1945) and Oliver Twist (1948) to the screen.
For the film version of Hobson’s Choice, Harold Brighouse co-wrote the screenplay with Wynyard Brown, Norman Spencer and David Lean. As with all his projects Lean spent a good deal of time on getting the correct casting.
Finally, he assembled a strong cast headed by Charles Laughton in the title role of Victorian bootmaker Henry Hobson, Brenda De Banzie as Maggie, his eldest daughter, and John Mills, as Will Mossop a timid employee. The film also featured Prunella Scales in one of her first screen roles as Vicky.