Directed by: STEPHEN FREARS
Starring: JUDI DENCH, BOB
HOSKINS, WILL YOUNG
Released by: Universal Studios
Short: Judi Dench proves again that there
is nothing like a Dame, in this delicious romp
set in Blitz-era London.
Ladies and Stiff Upper Lips
Bless You, Please, Mrs. Henderson
dear. What ever is an elderly woman of the landed
gentry to do once her husband passes on? Torment the servants?
Collect ever larger diamonds? Join a charity board? Embroider?
No, darling, none of these will suffice for Laura Henderson
(Judi Dench), and when she purchases a defunct London
theater, polite society thinks she’s gone stark-raving
Henderson hires ruddy yet refined theater impresario Mr.
van Damm (Bob Hoskins), and together they produce a song
and dance revue that promptly shuffles toward financial
doom. That is, until Mrs. Henderson suggests that some
of the female performers take the stage stark, uh, something
else. OK, we’ll say it: naked. But this is the late
1930s, when a glimpse of stocking really was something
shocking, so the show is nudity as art—the models
stand as still as sculptures.
the show becomes as popular as it is provocative, and
patriotic, too, as young soldiers flock for a last glimpse
of English beauty before heading off to fight the Nazis.
Moreover, the theater becomes a focal point for Londoners,
a shelter during the Blitz and a symbol of an England
that would nevah surrendah.
on a true story, the film has been receiving all kinds
of award nominations, and no wonder. Dench clearly has
a ball with this role, and to paraphrase Mrs. Henderson,
it is simply delicious to watch her and Hoskins as they
bicker, which is constantly. The zing-a-minute dialog
made us want to read the script pronto, the musical numbers
are frothy and the costumes are spot-on (or is it spot-off?).
as it may seem, “Mrs. Henderson” has a good
deal in common with Playboy magazine. You might
be drawn in by the pictures, but you’ll probably
end up enjoying it just as much for the writing.