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Mar 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.
The 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 film…
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.
The 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 now.
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?
The 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.  
The 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 film?
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 people?
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??
The Maven: NO, YOU BLONDE, and that is Dan QUAYLE! I hear Whittington gave Bush’s campaigns three thousand dollars.
The 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!
The Blonde: I didn’t say I WOULD do it. I just said SHE is a great role model!
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 jealous!
The Maven: Actually, I was thinking of reporting you to the “What Not To Wear” reality show on TLC.
The Blonde:  WHATEVER!!!!!
The 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 English Toffee……


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