Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Alternate Best Actor 1954: Charles Laughton in Hobson's Choice

Charles Laughton did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying Henry Horatio Hobson in Hobson's Choice.

Hobson's Choice is enjoyable film about a man who runs a successful bookmaking shop, but his world turns upside down when his eldest daughter marries one of his timid but talented employees.

Charles Laughton is no stranger for portraying somewhat tyrannical figures. All three of his Oscar nominated performances where portraying imposing figures. Here again Laughton portrays a man who at first seems in charge of things, but in reality this time Laughton's Hobson is not nearly as imposing as so many other of Laughton's roles. Here Hobson actually finds that he is not really all that much in charge at all in fact faces difficultly in controlling his very domineering daughter Maggie (Brenda De Banzie), and in a way Laughton sort of parodies his own persona.

Charles Laughton here is not at all commanding really with his presence this time, and in fact is appropriately buffoonish. Charles Laughton usually has humor in his roles even serious ones, but this one humor really is the primary factor of his performance. Laughton has quite a bit of fun in the role of being the rather doltish Hobson who despite his constant attempts to do so he is completely unable to control his daughters despite going off all the time about how he should be in full control. Laughtonr really was the perfect choice for the role since he can be the wannabe monarch Hobson yet still be quite likable in the role.

When Hobson is not trying to boss around his daughters and his employees he mostly spends his time at the local pub making fun of his daughters as well as getting about as drunk as he possibly can be. Although Hobson is said to be an alcoholic by the end of the film, and even starts to hallucinate because of it. Laughton though appropriately only ever portrays this for laughs, and Laughton is quite good in bringing out the comedy in these scenes. A particularly entertaining scene is as Laughton stomps around town eventually falling down a hole, all made quite amusing through Laughton hilarious expressions throughout.

This actually is a pretty simple role for Laughton as Hobson really has no transition, the character arcs really involve how the characters react to Hobson, and the choices they make. Hobson ends not really making any choices are than going along with what others tell him to do. This is not a criticism of the character or Laughton's performance by any means though as this works well for the film. Also I should note Laughton also shares leading status with John Mills as Hobson's employee who slowly grows a backbone after marrying Hobson's stern daughter.

Laughton really does mainly two things in the film try to act bossy and failing miserably, and getting drunk and suffering miserably from the consequences of stumbling around drunk. Laughton of course is very good at fulfilling both the aspects as well as he possibly could, and getting as much humor out of the role as he could as well. This does not stand tall along the greater Laughton works in any way shape or form, but it does allow Laughton to show off in a more saturated fashion his comedic abilities which are certainly worth showing off.


Michael Patison said...

What'd you think of Mills in the movie?

Louis Morgan said...

Mills was descent enough, but I preferred Laughton.

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Piercengyq said...

Mills was descent enough, but I preferred Laughton.

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