Hoffman (film)

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"Hoffman" (1970 film).jpg
British quad poster
Directed by Alvin Rakoff
Produced by Ben Arbeid
Written by Ernest Gébler
Based on novel Shall I Eat You Now? by Ernest Gebler
Starring Peter Sellers
Sinéad Cusack
Ruth Dunning
Jeremy Bulloch
Music by Ron Grainer
Cinematography Gerry Turpin
Edited by Barrie Vince
Associated British Picture Corporation (ABPC)
Longstone Film Productions
Distributed by Anglo-EMI (UK)
American Continental (US)
Release date
  • 1970 (1970)
Running time
113 minutes
Country United Kingdom[1]
Language English

Hoffman is a 1970 British film directed by Alvin Rakoff and starring Peter Sellers, Sinéad Cusack, Ruth Dunning and Jeremy Bulloch.[2] It is the tale of an older man (Peter Sellers) who blackmails an attractive young woman (Sinéad Cusack) into spending a week with him in his flat in London. His hope is that she will forget her crooked fiancé and fall in love with him instead.[3]

It is notable for the haunting music by Ron Grainer, the theatrical art of scene setting, fine colour cinematography, and as one of Sellers' few 'straight' performances.


Telling her fiancé Tom she has to spend a week with her sick grandmother, Janet instead goes to the flat of Hoffman, a recently divorced executive in the firm where she works who she hardly knows. Her visit is not voluntary, since Hoffman claims to have evidence that could send Tom to jail and has blackmailed her into spending the week with him. While full of desire for the young woman, he is also still bitter about women and, without pressuring her physically, bullies her psychologically. Young and inexperienced, she eventually begins to fight back and even starts some sexual provocation and then insults Hoffman when he does not respond. They are then interrupted when Tom comes looking for his missing fiancée, having been prompted by an 'anonymous' phone call actually made by Hoffman, and Janet leaves with Tom. Discussing the situation, Tom and his mother ask Janet to go back to Hoffman and continue being nice to him in order to keep Tom out of jail. Dismayed that both of them are more concerned for themselves than for her, she goes back to Hoffman and negotiates the terms to agree to his invitation to be his permanent companion.



In 1967 a TV play Call Me Daddy aired, written by Ernest Gebler, directed by Alvin Rakoff and starring Donald Pleasence and Judy Cornwell. It was well received and won an international Emmy.[4]Gelber turned the story into a novel, Shall I Eat You Now?, published the following year. [5] Producer Ben Arbeid optioned the screen rights to the novel and hired Gebler to write the script for a fee of ₤21,000.[6]

The film was one of the first greenlit by Bryan Forbes while he was head of EMI Films.[7]

Reportedly, Sellers despised Hoffman because the lead character too closely reflected his own personality. According to Bryan Forbes, who was head of the studio that financed the film, Sellers went through a depressive phase after filming was completed and he asked to buy back the negative and remake the movie.[8] He also gave an interview where he said the film was a disaster.[9]


The film was not a success at the box office.[10] The film did not screen in New York until 1982.

In 1975 Gebler turned Call Me Daddy into a play.[11]

The BFI recently said the film had one of Seller's most interesting performances.[12]


  1. ^ https://www.bfi.org.uk/films-tv-people/4ce2b6ac70be0
  2. ^ "Hoffman (1969)". BFI. 
  3. ^ HOFFMAN Monthly Film Bulletin; London Vol. 37, Iss. 432, (Jan 1, 1970): 156.
  4. ^ JUDY CORNWELL on television Reynolds, Stanley. The Guardian (1959-2003); London (UK) [London (UK)]29 Apr 1968: 7.
  5. ^ Obituary: Ernest Gebler: No saint in Ireland Pine, Richard. The Guardian24 Feb 1998: 016.
  6. ^ Gebler, Carlo (2013). Father And I: A Memoir. Hachette. 
  7. ^ "Bryan Forbes". Telegraph.co.uk. 9 May 2013. 
  8. ^ "Peter Sellers 90th anniversary: 10 essential films". British Film Institute. 
  9. ^ Bryan Forbes, A Divided Life, Mandarin Paperbacks 1993 p106
  10. ^ City comment: Soon the darkness, The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 8 March 1971: 12.
  11. ^ https://www.rte.ie/archives/2015/0421/695566-ernest-gebler-and-call-me-daddy/
  12. ^ https://www.bfi.org.uk/news-opinion/news-bfi/lists/peter-sellers-10-essential-films

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