Mrs Henderson Presents

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Mrs Henderson Presents
Mrs. Henderson Presents poster.jpg
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Norma Heyman
Bob Hoskins
Written by Martin Sherman
Starring Judi Dench
Bob Hoskins
Kelly Reilly
Will Young
Christopher Guest
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Edited by Lucia Zucchetti
Distributed by Pathé
The Weinstein Company
Release dates
  • 25 November 2005 (2005-11-25)
Running time
103 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $27,876,417

Mrs Henderson Presents is a 2005 British comedy film written by American playwright Martin Sherman and directed by Stephen Frears. It stars Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly, and Pop Idol winner Will Young in his acting debut. A musical version of the film, starring Emma Williams and Tracie Bennett, will open at Theatre Royal, Bath in August 2015.[1]


The film is based on the true story of the Windmill Theatre in London. Eccentric 70-year-old widow Mrs Laura Henderson purchases it as a post-widowhood hobby and appoints autocratic manager Vivian Van Damm. In 1937, they start a continuous variety revue called "Revudeville", but after other theatres in London copy this innovation, they begin losing money. Mrs Henderson suggests they add female nudity, similar to the Moulin Rouge in Paris, which is unprecedented in the United Kingdom. The Lord Chamberlain (Rowland Baring, 2nd Earl of Cromer) reluctantly allows this under the condition that the nude performers remain immobile, so the performances can be considered art, the equivalent of nude statues in museums.

Because the theatre's auditorium is below street level it is relatively safe during the bombing of London, and performances continue. The performers bravely go on with the show even during frightening bombing raids, and the posed nude girls resume their poses, after ducking, as the whole theatre is shaken and the scene flats all round them sway, following a bomb landing close by. Eventually, the authorities want the theatre to close because of the danger of crowds gathering in the street outside the theatre. However, Mrs Henderson successfully argues: for soldiers going to die in the war this is their last chance, and for many of the young soldiers their only chance, to see female nudity.

Maureen, one of the cast, becomes involved at Mrs Henderson's instigation with a young soldier, one of the audience regulars. Maureen becomes pregnant, is very upset about how it will affect her life, and hands in her notice. However, before the issue can be resolved, she is killed by a bomb while leaving the theatre.

Other scenes depict life in the theatre during the period. Mrs Henderson and Mr Van Damm frequently clash and squabble, but also show great appreciation for each other. The film's closing credits explain that, on her death in 1944, Mrs Henderson bequeathed the theatre to Mr Van Damm.



The film received mostly positive reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes, 67% of the critics gave the film a positive review out of 138 reviews.[citation needed] The Web site Future Movies described the film as "very funny, sweet and charming".[citation needed] Roger Ebert reacted fairly positively to the film, saying "Mrs. Henderson Presents is not great cinema, and neither was the Windmill great theater, but they both put on a good show."[citation needed]


The film won four minor awards and was nominated for 26, among them four BAFTA Awards including Best Original Screenplay, two Oscars, three Golden Globe Awards, and eight British Independent Film Awards.[2]



  1. ^ "West End leading ladies cast for new musical Mrs Henderson Presents". London Box Office. 12 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  2. ^ "Awards page for Mrs Henderson Presents". IMDb. 

External links[edit]