Mrs. Henderson Presents

Mrs. Henderson Presents

3.7 4
Director: Stephen Frears

Cast: Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, William Young


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A recently widowed eccentric with money to burn and no intentions of settling down enlists the aide of a showbiz professional to transform a run-down theater in Soho into London's most innovative entertainment hot spot in director Stephen Frears' cinematic account of the groundbreaking Windmill Theater. The year is 1937 and, despite…  See more details below


A recently widowed eccentric with money to burn and no intentions of settling down enlists the aide of a showbiz professional to transform a run-down theater in Soho into London's most innovative entertainment hot spot in director Stephen Frears' cinematic account of the groundbreaking Windmill Theater. The year is 1937 and, despite having recently lost her husband, 69-year-old Laura Henderson (Judy Dench) remains as ambitious and vital as ever. Aghast at her friend Lady Conway's (Thelma Barlow) suggestion that she take up a mundane hobby such as diamond collecting to pass the time, Mrs. Henderson instead shocks her well-to-do social circle by purchasing the ramshackle Windmill Theater in the heart of downtown Soho. Unafraid to take a risk in the venture, yet lacking the experience needed to run the theater, Mrs. Henderson brings in showbiz veteran Vivian Van Damm (Bob Hoskins) to line up an opening act that will set the stage ablaze. When the ever-curious Mrs. Henderson's intrusive spying begins to impede on Mr. Van Damm's creative progress, the frustrated theater manager has her banished from rehearsals. Though Van Damm's innovative idea to stage an unending stream of entertainment dubbed "Revudeville" proves a wild and profitable success, the Windmill begins to suffer when other local theaters quickly follow suit. Now faced with the prospect of seeing her once-lucrative endeavor fall by the wayside due to the unoriginality of the copycats who surround her, Mrs. Henderson decides to show audiences something they've never seen before by making the Windmill the first theater to feature nude female entertainers live on-stage.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
The inspiring, almost-too-amazing-to-be-true story of a London music hall that remained open throughout World War II makes an apt starring vehicle for two of Britain’s most accomplished character actors, Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins. She plays Laura Henderson, a recently widowed woman of means who operates a ramshackle theater as a diversion; he plays Vivian Van Damm, a tough-but-tender veteran showman. Their unlikely collaboration results in the renamed Windmill Theater, which becomes a sensation in the months before Hitler plunges Europe into war. Later, even as the Nazis drop bombs on the city during the Blitz, Mrs. Henderson elects to keep the Windmill open as a morale booster for both civilians and young servicemen. By this time, though, the theater’s popularity is partly attributable to its nude revues. Hollywood paid tribute to the Windmill some 60 years ago in Tonight and Every Night, a highly fictionalized musical drama starring Rita Hayworth. Mrs. Henderson Presents, while not without its own deviations from the historical record, comes a lot closer to presenting the true picture. Director Stephen Frears (Dirty Pretty Things) quickly establishes the prickly nature of the relationship between owner and impresario: Notwithstanding her puckish delight in arousing controversy over the female nudity in the Windmill’s shows, Laura Henderson is very much a product of the upper classes, with all the imperiousness and prejudice her background implies. Van Damm, a self-made man whose success never entirely obscures his hardscrabble beginnings, often finds himself at odds with his boss, but he comes to respect and admire her. Dench and Hoskins, both able scene-stealers, work marvelously together. Kelly Reilly is also charming as the Windmill’s most popular showgirl, and Christopher Guest contributes a delightful turn as a stuffy bureaucrat. Expertly blending comedy and drama Mrs. Henderson Presents registers as first-rate entertainment.
All Movie Guide
Mrs. Henderson Presents seems to have been constructed both as a showcase for two great actors and a historical seriocomedy examining the perseverance of culture in war-torn London. Stephen Frears' film achieves the first goal a bit more readily than the second. Perennial Oscar nominee Judi Dench is fabulous as the titular widow who refuses to grow old via thumb-twiddling hobbies, and Bob Hoskins is her equal sparring partner, playing the proud manager who oversees her revolutionary round-the-clock Windmill Theater. A viewer gets the sense that both actors are having a terrific time, and their chemistry as good as their line deliveries are crisp. But the script tends to undercut their regal performances, having them squabble over trivialities that seem especially featherweight while their city is being reduced to rubble. In this way, Mrs. Henderson Presents is caught somewhere between a war epic and a comedy of manners, with each element detracting some from the thrust of the other. One hesitates to call it a "costume drama", as many of its characters aren't wearing a stitch. Since the film is about how naked women on-stage teased the puritanical sensibilities of the proper English, who recognized they couldn't deny the troops a much-needed morale boost, the script's more farcical elements are the ones that really belong. However, the social commentary loses its teeth when the story shifts focus to the particular performers, and the variety of not-so-surprising problems and tragedies that entangle them. These sections of the film are a little less distinct. On the whole, though, Frears brings his usual sure hand to the project, and uses a unique and clever hook to study an important period of British history. The film just doesn't commit to any one agenda long enough to be a truly enduring work.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Weinstein Company
Region Code:
[Wide Screen]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; Widescreen (1.78:1); Enhanced for 16x9 television; Languages: English 5.1; Subtitles: English CC, Spanish

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Judi Dench Laura Henderson
Bob Hoskins Vivian Van Damm
William Young Bertie
Christopher Guest Lord Cromer
Kelly Reilly Maureen
Thelma Barlow Lady Conway
Anna Brewster Actor
Rosalind Halstead Actor
Sarah Solemani Actor
Natalia Tena Peggy
Doraly Rosen Actor
Toby Jones Gordon

Technical Credits
Stephen Frears Director
Debbie Astell Choreography
David Aukin Executive Producer
Leo Davis Casting
Andrew Dunn Cinematographer
Eleanor Fazan Choreography
George Fenton Score Composer
Norma Heyman Producer
Bob Hoskins Executive Producer
François Ivernel Executive Producer
Peter Lindsay Sound/Sound Designer
Graham Longhurst Special Effects Supervisor
Hugo Luczyc-Wyhowski Production Designer
Cameron Mccracken Executive Producer
Sandy Powell Costumes/Costume Designer
Kathy Rose Associate Producer
David Rose Associate Producer
Tracey Scoffield Executive Producer
Martin Sherman Screenwriter
David M. Thompson Executive Producer
Tony Woollard Art Director
Lucia Zucchetti Editor

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Mrs. Henderson Presents
1. Opening Credits [3:36]
2. The Funeral [5:22]
3. Alec [3:14]
4. Appointment With Van-Damm [6:43]
5. Windmill Auditions [4:08]
6. Opening Night Gala [3:49]
7. Rules on Nudity [4:53]
8. Nude Auditions [5:49]
9. Words of Encouragement [5:47]
10. "Meet My Wife" [7:20]
11. "Battle Plan" [6:13]
12. Plane Ride [3:04]
13. "Welcome Back" [1:50]
14. A Close Call [1:54]
15. The Show Must Go On [3:22]
16. No. 1 Fan [5:36]
17. A Sudden Loss [8:55]
18. Closure [4:51]
19. The Windmill Lives On [6:34]
20. End Credits [4:56]


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Mrs. Henderson Presents 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Molly2 More than 1 year ago
This movie is a gem. It tells the story of a small theater in London, where non-stop performances are being given. It is basically a nude revue, but done in exemplary taste. Judy Dench is, as always, amazing, but so is the rest of the cast. The young women and the men who ogle them show the years before and during World War 2, when civility and basic good manners were still evident. It was still a time of "innocent pleasures", and in a certain way, I feel nostalgic about that era, when I was just a little boy. The music is absolutely amazing: the composer George Fenton, is spot-on. I particularly enjoyed "Babes of the Blitz". "Mrs. Henderson Presents" is a thoroughly delightful and nostalgic look at a little story of London during the early years of the Second World War. Highly recommended
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a prude. I admit it. You must accept that as a given if you are to understand how unlikely I am to write this review. Only Judi Dench could have enticed me to see a movie featuring so much disrobing of the human body in public. But this story is presented with so delicate a hand that it not only avoids vulgarity, but embraces grace, style and significance in a manner that I shall not soon forget. There has not been a movie since "Dead Poets Society" that I cared to see twice, much less actually purchase. I will be buying, watching again and recommending widely "Mrs. Henderson Presents." All adults can enjoy it, but if you can recall anything about World War II, you will remember this film for a long time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i enjoyed this movie & it was more fun to watch than expected but the plot was not as good as it might have been but i really like the stars so i'm glad i ordered it & the pricing was excellent this time on bn during a special sale. i think bn should offer much more aggressive pricing & they would become the e-store of choice, especially if they did not expect people to pay $25 to save on their products. amazon is often cheaper & still does not have customers pay to save $
Anonymous More than 1 year ago