10. HOBSON’S CHOICE
(1954, Written by Harold Brighouse, Wynyard Browne, David Lean and Norman Spence, based on the play of the same name by Harold Brighouse)
Any film starring the great Charles Laughton is worth seeing. His is a truly titanic cinematic presence and even in a supposedly “small” film such as this – set in a Victorian shoemaker’s shop – he dominates the screen, as he bullies his daughters (who are also his employees) until one of them rebels by marrying his assistant and setting up her own rival business.
All the classic Lean hallmarks are here: a strong but supple script, based on Harold Brighouse’s fine comic play; an even stronger male lead, who is obviously flawed but less obviously also rather magnificent; and a fine ensemble cast, including John Mills as the brilliant bootmaker who not only mends boots but ultimately the battered relationship between Hobson and his daughters. Mills, like so many other great British actors (notably Trevor Howard), would become a regular in Lean’s movies, and his own development into a great screen actor would parallel Lean’s own development into a great director.