Academy Award winner1 Judi Dench (Shakespeare in Love) received her fifth Oscar® nomination for her saucy, hilarious performance in Mrs. Henderson Presents. Laura Henderson (Dench) may be a widow in London but she is certa... more »inly not going to spend the rest of her days playing bridge. In a time when England is brought to its knees by war, she brings a nation to its feet in applause?with a live show featuring nude girls! Dench and Academy Award nominee2 Bob Hoskins have won critics? hearts in this stylish gem that Joe Morgenstern from The Wall Street Journal calls "one of the wittiest comedies to come our way in a very long time!" "Two hours of relentless, heart-pounding pleasure." - Rex Reed, The New York Observer 1Best Supporting Actress, Shakespeare in Love 2Best Actor, Mona Lisa« less
Torkel E. (Torbjorn) from FAIRHOPE, AL Reviewed on 6/10/2012...
Very entertaining. Great cast.
1 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
Betty T. (BettySunshine) from WARNER ROBINS, GA Reviewed on 3/12/2010...
Wonderfully funny sparring between Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. Thoroughly enjoyed it.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Octavio F. (Octavio) from SEATTLE, WA Reviewed on 9/10/2009...
Very good movie, fun to watch and an outstanding performance from Judi Dench.
1 of 2 member(s) found this review helpful.
Gary J. (gjones) from TROUTDALE, OR Reviewed on 6/25/2009...
This is a warm, wonderful movie about a mother who wants to take care of a bunch of soldiers, sailors and marines because no one had done it for her son. Judi Dench is a wealthy English widow who decides to buy a playhouse in London during WWII and ends up creating a show with live, nude girls for the troops to see before they go off to war. She plays a real character and Bob Hoskins (one of my favorite character actors) plays the man she hires to run the show. It's a funny, sad, titillating, moving film that was a joy to watch from beginning to end.
5 of 5 member(s) found this review helpful.
Sandra S. (ratracesandra) from CUMMING, GA Reviewed on 8/16/2008...
Loved this sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes bawdy show. Again another fine performance by Judi Dench......
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Ann D. (wordyone) Reviewed on 7/24/2008...
Funny, poignant, sweet and utterly charming.
1 of 1 member(s) found this review helpful.
Liz M. (lizzy0215) from SHADY SIDE, MD Reviewed on 12/26/2007...
Judi Densch is one of my favorite actresses and her interaction with Bob Hoskins is a wonderful part of the movie. She is at a loss after the death of her husband and tries an outrageous venture to keep herself busy. Her quiet anguish over the loss of her only child is truely brought to light near the end of the film. Christopher Guest as the Lord Mayor is
putty in the hands of her manipulations. Fun and a little bawdy.
4 of 4 member(s) found this review helpful.
A Perfect British Confection with Heart
Grady Harp | Los Angeles, CA United States | 04/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS is easily one of the best films of 2005. That it didn't garner an Oscar for Judi Dench is amazing as this is one of her finest roles (in a long line of superb films!). Director Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons, Dirty Pretty Things, The Grifters, Liam etc) has put together a film that is at once nostalgic, sophisticated, intelligent, witty, sad, and thoroughly entertaining. This little film is a winner.
London, 1937, and Laura Henderson, having lost her only son in WW I is discovered at the graveside of her recently departed husband. Not wanting to be stuck with the British widow stance, she decides on a hobby to occupy her time: she buys, renovates and readies a theater in the West End of London, hires Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to be her impresario and the two successfully begin a music hall type of entertainment. Their efforts are soon so imitated that their income falters, giving Mrs. Henderson a new concept: she will introduce full nudity into her theater to replace the French postcard surrogates the soldiers carry. Mrs. Henderson is indefatigable, has a laceratingly funny relationship with Van Damm, and even manages to cajole the politicians to go along with her 'new concept'. By now WW II is at it s peak and despite the London blitzkriegs the theater manages to survive, but not without some sacrifices and some self-revelations between Mrs. Henderson and Van Damm. There are many little subplots involving the company of performers, but they all blend nicely into the poignant story.
Judi Dench is absolutely radiant in this role, a role that allows her to cover a wide gamut of moods, each of which she handles expertly. Likewise, Bob Hoskins gives the performance of his rich career and the other cast members in this ensemble piece could not be better. The music and staged numbers are delightful and the atmosphere of London under siege is very realistic. In every way this is a successful movie, one that deserves a wide audience and one of those DVDs worthy of placing in your film library. A hearty Bravo! to all concerned! Grady Harp, April 06"
Another celebration of the London theatre scene
Joseph Haschka | Glendale, CA USA | 11/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Last year's cinematic celebration of the London theatre scene was BEING JULIA, in which Annette Bening plays a no-longer-young stage actress of the late 1930s, who has hitherto starred in the productions her theatre-owner husband stages, and who crafts a delicious revenge against a fresh-faced protege whom her spouse hires and falls in love with.
Based more on actual events, and also set in the late 1930s/early 40s, MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS has wealthy Laura Henderson (Judi Dench), on the death of her husband, purchasing and renovating a derelict cinema and renaming it The Windmill Theatre for want of anything more interesting to do in 1937. To manage the establishment from the outset, she hires strong-willed Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins), who insists on having final say on their stage performances' artistic content and the day-to-day running of the place. He begins by presenting an around-the-clock vaudeville show, the 24/7 nature of which is a groundbreaking concept. This keeps The Windmill the talk-of -the-town for awhile, i.e. until other London theatres begin to imitate, and then ticket sales fall off. To regain the advantage, Laura has the idea of putting naked actresses on-stage, but then must convince the dubious Van Damm and outmaneuver the absolute veto power of the censorous city authorities, here personified by Laura's friend, Lord Cromer (Christopher Guest).
The creators of MRS. HENDERSON PESENTS have taken timeline liberties. The real Mrs. Henderson actually acquired The Windmill site in 1931, opening first with a live play, "Inquest", which proved unsuccessful. After briefly returning to screening films, a new manager, Van Damm, produced and opened the non-stop "Revuedeville" in 1932. From then on, The Windmill entered history ("We never closed") as the only London theatre to stay open throughout the war, including the Blitz.
Dench steals the show as the meddling owner, and Hoskins holds his own as her nemesis-manager. The film deftly captures their stormy, but oddly affectionate, relationship, as well as the perils of staging performances while German bombs fell. Kelly Reilly is delightful and gorgeous as Maureen, the first showgirl recruited by Hoskins for The Windmill's bill of nudie cuties.
Towards the film's end, Laura poignantly reveals why she had the idea for removing the actresses clothes. Knowing that, and seeing the reason why she made frequent pre-war visits to France, it's particularly sad when the film ends before the Allied victory and the final credits reveal that Henderson died in 1944. She left The Windmill to Vivian, who ran it until his death in 1960. Van Damm's daughter then operated the establishment until 1964, when it was unable to compete with the strip joints. Since then, the site has hosted a cinema, a casino, a nude-review theatre, and (presently) a lap-dancing club.
MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS is a thoroughly charming and unpretentious film about a little piece of London theatre history. It probably won't make it out of the art houses, but see it if you can. "
"I'd rather drink ink!"
M. J Leonard | Silver Lake, Los Angeles, CA United States | 12/12/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stephen Frears directs acting legend Dame Judy Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents, a spectacular and thoroughly entertaining film that is an absolute delight from beginning to end. Expect Oscar nominations for both Bob Hopkins and the legendary Dench.
Based on a true story, the movie begins in 1937 when the wealthy Laura Henderson (Dench) has just been widowed. Refusing to go gently into widowhood, Laura heeds the advice of her friend Lady Conway (a riotous Thelma Barlow) and finds herself a hobby. But she just can't handle needlepoint, and being a board member on various charities just isn't her thing, so instead, she decides to buy a run down property on Great Windmill Street in Soho with the intention of turning it into a theater.
Of course, Mrs. Henderson knows nothing about running a music hall, so she enlists the help of Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins), a currently unemployed theatre manager. The problem is that Laura and Vivian don't exactly see eye to eye - Vivian sees Laura as snotty and rude, a product of her privileged class, while Laura views Vivian as "Jewish" a cigar smoker who is kind of low class.
It doesn't help that they also end up clashing professionally. They're both strong willed individuals, who each have different artistic visions for the theater, with most of their time taken up arguing and trading acerbic barbs at one another. But eventually they manage to sort out their differences and make a go at it, and success comes quickly, with shows running almost continually. This daily novelty, however, can't withstand competition from movie houses and other vaudeville shows in the West End.
Laura decides to add nude young women to the mix, hoping that it will increase attendance, but her old friend the Lord Chamberlain (Christopher Guest) isn't wild about the idea. He tells her that he'll reluctantly license the show as long as the naked ladies stand perfectly still on stage, thereby skirting around the draconian English censorship laws.
Mrs. Henderson Presents is everything one should expect from a British film, and in the hands of a director of the caliber of Stephen Frears, the film is an absolute pleasure to watch. Spanning from the pre-war years up until the London blitz, the film captures the darker pulses of the Second World War, while also remaining strangely lighthearted in tone and character.
Thanks to a gorgeously fluid script by Martin Sherman, and the talented cast, the film is mostly pitch perfect. The musical interludes have a flashy charm there's the presence of fourteen vintage stage musical numbers, including Benny Goodman's Goody Goody and the classically jaunty Babies of the Blitz. The supporting players also lend a startling authenticity to the proceedings - Kelly Reilly is particularly memorable as a spunky Windmill girl and cute Pop Idol winner Will Young makes an appealing big screen debut as Bertie, the theater's resident male ingénue, who tells Laura that he's "of the other persuasion."
Mrs. Henderson Presents may be old-fashioned, but it's also witty, and lots of fun. But make no mistake; this is Ms. Dench's film. And while Hoskins is delightful as Laura's foil, it is really the grand Dame of British acting that steals the show and takes command of the film. She's just pitch perfect in the role of "a most exasperating woman," who says whatever's on her mind, and has an endlessly sharp tongue. This is one of her best roles. Mike Leonard December 05. "
Mrs Henderson Presents
Glenda Pryor | USA | 03/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Saw the movie in the theatre. The movie is wonderful. Judi Dench is fabulous. Due to tastful nude scenes and very little strong language (two words) you might be careful letting children watch.
This movie was not promoted in the US very well but it is a great movie."
A lovely, unambitious, thoroughly satisfying film
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 01/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Warning! Spoilers ahead:
I love popular culture, especially intelligent popular culture, but I have become progressively less and less enchanted each year with the summer blockbuster films that we are saddled with and the bloated, overwrought holiday films we are given each November and December. MRS. HENDERSON PRESENTS is the perfect tonic for anyone sickened by bombastic cinema, a small, lovely, and subtle film that tries to entice you with its story rather than its special effects or massive vistas. Its ambition is to tell a small, unique period story as well as possible. In this the film succeeds.
The film tells the story of how in 1938 a newly widowed woman (played by Dame Judi Dench), for want of anything more compelling to do after the death of her husband, buys and renovates a West End London theater, which she calls the Windmill. Dench's performance is marvelous and I was greatly heartened to see that she was rewarded with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. Mrs. Henderson hires promoter Vivian Van Damm, who persistently denies being Jewish, as artistic director and gives him unfettered control over every artistic aspect of the operation. Bob Hoskins does his usual superb job as Van Damm (am I the only one who is under the impression that he has looked almost exactly the same for thirty years?) and much of the appeal of the film derives from the complex-combative and respectful while at the same time distantly intimate-friendship and partnership that Henderson and Van Damm form. The initial innovation of the theater is to perform musical reviews 24 hours a day, but when other theaters begin to imitate them, their ticket sales begin to decline. Mrs. Henderson then suggests that they trump the competition by having nude girls on stage. Luckily she has a connection with cabinet member Lord Cromer (played surprisingly well by American comedian Christopher Guest), who although initially hesitant to OK the nudity, finally agrees on condition that the women not move, so that they resemble art works that one might find in an art museum. The theater as a result becomes remarkably successful and continues to operate even during the worst of WW II and the Blitz. The story revolves almost entirely around the professional relationship between Mrs. Henderson and Mr. Van Damm on the one hand and the relation of all to the girls who become the nude statues on the stage.
The cast, as in most British period films, is impeccable, though in this one also somewhat unexpected. Will Young, the Pop Idol winner, turns in a pleasantly effective performance as the Windmill's leading musical performer, crooning the tunes with an appropriate period style. But apart from the two main leads, the most delightful performance is by the lovely Kelly Reilly, who plays one of the girls who model on the stage.
There is a large amount of nudity in this film, but there is virtually no eroticism. There is, in fact, less salaciousness in this film than in the vast majority of PG-13 releases. Rita Hayworth taking off her glove in GILDA is infinitely sexier than anything that happens in this movie. I might be willing to insist that this is the least sexy film to feature full frontal nudity (both male and female) ever made. Only the most serious prudes would find the tiniest thing objectionable in the film
All in all, this is an utterly delightful film. One will come away from it not thinking it one of the best films one has seen, but one will not feel sonically, visually, or intellectually abused in any way, and unlike the experience with most Hollywood movies these days, one will not feel oneself in any way insulted. This is a small but enormously satisfying film."