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Directed by David Lean
UK 1954

An unsung comic triumph from David Lean, Hobson’s Choice stars the legendary Charles Laughton as the harrumphing Henry Hobson, the owner of a boot shop in late Victorian northern England. With his haughty, independent daughter Maggie (Brenda De Banzie) decides to forge her own path, romantically and professionally, with none other than Henry’s prized bootsmith Will (a splendid John Mills), father and daughter find themselves head-to-head in a fiery match of wills. Equally charming and caustic, Hobson’s Choice, adapted from Harold Brighouse’s famous play, is filled to the brim with great performances and elegant, inventive camera work.

 

Poster

Theatrical Release: 19 April 1954 - UK

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DVD Review: Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC

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CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine #461 - Region 1 - NTSC
Runtime 1:47:56 
Video 1.33:1 Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.97 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s 

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

Audio English (Dolby Digital 1.0) 
Subtitles English, None
Features

Release Information:
Studio: Criterion

Aspect Ratio:
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1

Edition Details:

• New high-definition digital transfer from a restoration by the BFI National Archive, funded by the David Lean Foundation and StudioCanal
• Audio commentary featuring film scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini, co-authors of David Lean and His Films
• The Hollywood Greats: Charles Laughton, a 1978 BBC documentary about the actor’s life and career, featuring interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues
• Theatrical trailer
• 16-page liner notes booklet with photos and a new essay by critic Armond White

DVD Release Date: February 17th, 2009

Transparent Keep Case
Chapters: 13

 

Comments:

A few years ago Ole reviewed, HERE, a David Lean 2-pack that included Hobson's Choice (and The Sound Barrier) from Warner in the UK (now out-of-print). We've compared two of those captures below with the dual-layered Criterion looking quite a bit sharper with far superior contrast.

Although the Criterion DVD transfer is pictureboxed (see our description of 'pictureboxing' in our Kind Hearts and Coronets review) the black border border around the edge of the frame, to counter overscan on production-made television sets, is not as thick as we have seen in the past. I found it less intrusive through my HDMI HD TV connection.

The Criterion is advertised as 'New high-definition digital transfer from a restoration by the BFI National Archive, funded by the David Lean Foundation and StudioCanal' and it looks quite strong.  There are very few speckles and black levels may have been brought up a shade to accentuate detail but it gives the image a nice crispness that I had not ever seen before from this film. 

Audio is mono and the track sounds clean and clear. There are optional English subtitles provided.



 

Supplement include a very enjoyable commentary from film scholars Alain Silver and James Ursini, co-authors of David Lean and His Films. They discuss the feminist theme of the narrative, Laughton's fiduciary difficulties, Korda's input and Lean's demand for perfection. It unearths a lot of pertinent information that I was previously not aware of. If you've heard this pair before, with commentaries on many Fox Noir DVDs, you know they support each other extremely well and are professional and thorough. The Hollywood Greats: Charles Laughton, is a 44-minute, 1978 BBC documentary, about the actor’s life and career, featuring interviews with his family, friends, and colleagues. Another very worthy extra. There is a 2-minute theatrical trailer and a 16-page liner notes booklet with photos and a new essay by, oft disputed, critic Armond White.

This particular DVD of Hobson's Choice is one of Criterion's better efforts. It is 'complete' showing the film in a marvelously clean, consistent and satisfying presentation. The extras are insightful and the film itself is worthy of 'masterpiece' status. Highly recommended!

Gary W. Tooze

 


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Screen Captures

 

(Warner - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 


(Warner - Region 2 - PAL TOP vs. Criterion - Region 1 - NTSC BOTTOM)

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 


 

DVD Box Cover

   

CLICK to order from:

Distribution Criterion Collection - Spine #461 - Region 1 - NTSC




 

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