06, 2006 Mrs. Henderson Presents
by The Blonde and The Maven
Many years ago, there really
was a Windmill Theatre in the Soho district of London. The theatre
featured a nonstop revue with nude women on stage. Windmill proudly
advertised that they never closed, not even during the worst of the
blitz. The film, Mrs. Henderson Presents, is the first to tell the
story of Mrs. Henderson and how she started the theatre.
Mrs. Henderson Presents is directed by Stephen Frears
(Dirty Pretty Things and Dangerous Liaisons), written by Martin
Sherman and produced by Bob Hoskins. The movie starts off with the
newly widowed Laura Henderson at her husband’s funeral. Played
brilliantly by JudiDench (Ladies in Lavender and Pride and
Prejudice), Laura is soon bored with her widowhood and, after trying
needlepoint, realizes she needs a bigger hobby. She finds the
distraction she is looking for when she buys the rundown theater in
Soho. Aware that she is in over her head, she hires a theater
manager, Vivian Van Damm, to run the business. Van Damm, portrayed
by Bob Hoskins (Vanity Fair and Who Framed Roger Rabbit), is as
hard-headed as Mrs. Henderson and soon the two are sparring
verbally. Mr. Van Damm hires the talent and soon they are off to a
roaring start. Bertie is the male lead. He is played by “British
Idol” (yes, the very show that inspired our own “American Idol”)
winner, Will Young. Mr. Van Damm decides to outdo the other theaters
by staying open all day. The revue will be continuous instead of
just two shows a day. The idea works great until the other theaters
copy them. Mrs. Henderson then decides to offer nude girls on stage.
British censorship does not allow nudity. Mrs. Henderson meets with
the Lord Chamberlain, an old friend of her husband’s. Lord Cromer,
played with a very stiff upper lip by Christopher Guest (Best in
Show and A Mighty Wind and married to Jamie Lee Curtis), will allow
the women to be nude as long as they are presented as an art form.
That means the girls cannot move onstage. Now the Windmill Theatre
has something no other theater has. The war comes, but the theater
stays open because it is underground and therefore is relatively
safe. As each new problem occurs, Mrs. Henderson and Mr. Van Damm
find a way to overcome it. They each find a way to deal with the
others stubbornness and, in turn, forge a bond of friendship that
includes the theatre staff.
The Blonde: I have no
words to describe how much I adored this film. LOVED IT!!!!! I
enjoyed every second. To begin with, writer Martin Sherman is really
connected to his feminine side. It is obvious by this script that is
filled with intelligent dialogue and the way he portrays the women
in this film with admiration and respect. Mrs. Henderson was like …
it was just like…. it was exactly like… ya know what, this film was
so unique and original it cannot be compared to any other film. I
will give you a hint: Mrs. Henderson was like the original female
Hugh Hefner (way ahead of her time). The character development in
this script was truly superb. Each and every role was richly
described, which makes you care about EVERY CHARACTER’S destiny. It
is so well written that you will feel compassion for all of them. I
didn’t want to say goodbye to these characters. I really wanted the
story to go on even further.
The Maven: This
movie was a joy to watch. I have always loved Bob Hoskins and I was
very excited to see him in such a good role. That dame Judi is
wicked. I would love to spend an evening talking to her. Every role
she plays is a delight to watch. Mrs. Henderson is definitely my
favorite so far. Ms. Dench seems to have been born to play this
role. I’m not sure about your correlation between the Windmill Girls
and Playboy Bunnies, but whatever. You’re right about the
characters, though. They are all well defined.
Blonde: I too agree with your comment about Bob Hoskins. This
was a dream-come-true role for him and he was outstanding. I just
loved his character. He was a gentleman in every sense of the word,
down to the way he defended his wife. I feel the strong need to
discuss Ms. Dench for a moment. I must say that I have ALWAYS loved,
admired, and respected Judi’s outstanding body of work through the
years. I feel that she is one of the best actresses of OUR TIME. I
put her in the same brilliant acting category as Sir Anthony
Hopkins. This was quite a different role for her. She wasn’t the
same reserved, stuffy, proper, strict, rigid, royal-esque type, like
most of her usual roles. In this film, she was able to explore a
variety of colorful emotions with a wide range of acting skills. She
portrayed a character that was adorable, yet not afraid to use
language that women did not use in public in those days! She was
gutsy, rude, romantic, reckless, daring, completely head strong,
bold, whimsical, and way ahead of her time. She reminded me of
Fergie (Sarah Ferguson) in many ways! I might have to say that this
was my favorite role Judi has ever played. I LOVED her as Mrs.
Henderson. I might also go as far as saying that this might possibly
be her finest performance ever. This was Ms. Dench’s shining moment!
This portrayal SCREAMS OSCAR!!!! That’s the way I see it! By
the way, Mav I have the same china pattern her friend had in this
The Maven: HOW WONDERFUL FOR YOU! It should be
noted that here is a film that Bob Hoskins produced and yet, unlike
some other actors in their movies, he allowed for some very fine
character development for the OTHER actors too.
Blonde: How terribly kind and considerate of you to not mention the
actors name who you are referring to. I, on the other hand, am not
as kind. I will give his initials. H F. and HE has a hit movie out
The Maven: Judi’s role was so finely tuned that
she did get an Oscar nod out of it. Don’t you dare say I’m
complimenting Bob because I say him naked, however he is a fine
figure of a man. Do you really think he is Jewish?
Blonde: GOOD QUESTION! Speaking of naked, I loved the naked
rehearsal scene. The line Miss Henderson delivers to Mr. Van Damm at
the end of that scene rivals the line Rob Reiner’s real-life mother
delivers in When Harry Met Sally, during the famous deli scene. DO
YOU REALLY THINK HE IS A FINE FIGURE OF A MAN? He is a great actor,
nice guy but figure, I DON’T THINK SO.
Maven: I may see the film again because of the naked rehearsal
scene. There was too much to look at for one viewing.
The Blonde: TOTALLY! You know what I loved about this
The Maven: Could I stop you from telling us even
if I wanted to?
The Blonde: NO! I loved how this film
took on many different stories within the basic story. You
experience many different emotions as a viewer that you don’t expect
to at the beginning of this film. The story shifts from carefree to
serious and back again. It has many life lessons to teach us. It was
truly a brilliant piece of writing as well as acting, directing,
casting, and editing. Furthermore, the music was simply marvelous.
The Maven: In the naked rehearsal scene, who
were those two other guys? I agree the writing by Martin Sherman was
superb. The story never bogged down anywhere. The characters were
interesting, without too much information. There were no long, drawn
out morality speeches. The tit-for-tat between Mrs. Henderson and
Mr. Van Damm was always witty and direct. I ached for more.
The Blonde: Tit for tat, literally. So speaking of
aching, what ‘sup with our Vice President shooting
The Maven: He’s not shooting PEOPLE! Just ONE
GUY! It was Harry Whittington, a 78-year-old lawyer. A lot of people
would be glad to shoot a lawyer and, besides, he looks like a quail.
The Blonde: He shot Dan Quail, too??
Maven: NO, YOU BLONDE, and that is Dan QUAYLE! I hear Whittington
gave Bush’s campaigns three thousand dollars.
Blonde: Well, maybe that’s why Cheney shot him. It obviously wasn’t
enough money. Boy, those Republicans are tough! Back to the film!
Judi Dench, now here is a woman who cannot be robbed of her beauty
by time. You can still see her stunning beauty mocking the years. No
plastic surgery here. She is a role model for us women.
The Maven: Oh please, who are you kidding! You will
never just allow yourself to grow old gracefully!
Blonde: I didn’t say I WOULD do it. I just said SHE is a great role
The Maven: Besides the fact that you will be
first in line for plastic surgery, you unfortunately will never stop
wearing short skirts and boots.
The Blonde: You are so
The Maven: Actually, I was thinking of
reporting you to the “What Not To Wear” reality show on
The Blonde: WHATEVER!!!!!
Maven: Judging by the sold-out lines at my local theater, many of
you have already seen this delightful film. For those who haven’t,
run to the next showing and prepare to be entertained. I don’t
suppose teenagers will appreciate the humor as it is not crude and
in your face. For those with some maturity, they will be thoroughly
enchanted by it all, the story, the music and the characters! I rate
this film a solid A for its awesomely, amazing, amusement and its
adoringly, artful, appreciation of …. OH JUST GO SEE IT and find
your own A words to describe it!
The Blonde: WOW, THAT
IS A LOT OF DESCRIPTIVE WORDS FOR THE MAVEN. She really liked it!!!
This film based ON A TRUE STORY is a charming, delightful,
wonderful, MUST SEE film. You will most assuredly be moved by a
range of emotions. You will laugh, cry and smile. I can’t tell
you how many times I had goose bumps! Talk about a sleeper of a
movie. This is one of the bestfilms I have seen in quite some time.
IT HAS IT ALL! It is truly a delicious film to see. I cannot rave
enough. I rate Mrs. Henderson Presents an A+. For your movie snacks,
have some tea with scones and crumpets. Go ahead and also enjoy some