Sunday, 3 August 2008

Lean times

On a recent visit to London's South Bank Mr Gnome dropped in at the National Film Theatre to admire its stylish new foyer.

The red-and-black theme carried over serendipitously to this poster for the great 1954 comedy showing as part of the centenary celebrations of the director David Lean.

Hobson's Choice is perhaps less well-known than, say, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, Lawrence of Arabia, Ryan's Daughter and Dr Zhivago.

Undeservedly, I feel.

It's a wonderful, charming film, shot in lustrous black and white and making the turn-of-the-century Salford locations look as if Francis Frith prints have sprung magically to life.

Based on Harold Brighouse's 1916 stage play, the film tells the story of how the steely-willed Maggie Hobson defies her father - and convention - to marry the man of her (unusual) choice and, in so doing, to make a bid for independence and self-determination.

A forgotten gem, in my opinion.

Note the stunning use of space and atmosphere in this clip.

Score by Malcolm Arnold, by the way.

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