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Mrs Henderson Presents

Film poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Norma Heyman
Written by David Rose
Kathy Rose
Martin Sherman
Starring Judi Dench
Bob Hoskins
Kelly Reilly
Will Young
Christopher Guest
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Andrew Dunn
Editing by Lucia Zucchetti
Distributed by Pathé
The Weinstein Company
Release date(s) United Kingdom 25 November 2005
Running time 103 min.
Country UK
Language English

Mrs Henderson Presents is a 2005 Academy Award nominated comedy film directed by Stephen Frears. It stars Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly, and Will Young in his acting debut.



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 review called 'Revudeville', but after other theatres in London copy this innovation, they begin to lose money. Mrs Henderson suggests they add female nudity similar to the Moulin Rouge in Paris. This is unprecedented in the United Kingdom. The Lord Chamberlain reluctantly allows this under the condition that the nude performers do not move so it can be considered art.

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, to the extent of the posed nude girls resuming 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 that 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 of each other. The film's closing credits explain that on her death in 1944 Mrs Henderson bequeaths the theatre to Mr Van Damm.



Honeysuckle Weeks was originally offered the part of Maureen, but turned it down after she refused to do the nude scenes.


The film received mostly positive reviews. According to Rotten Tomatoes 65% of the critics gave the film a positive review out of 133 reviews. The website Future Movies regarded "very funny, sweet and charming". 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.".


For details, see Mrs. Henderson Presents (soundtrack).

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Mrs Henderson Presents is a 2005 film based upon the story of the Windmill Theatre in London. The film chronicles the fiesty relationship between theatre owner, Laura Henderson and the director she appoints, autocratic Vivian Van Damm during the period of The Blitz in London.

Directed by Stephen Frears. Written by Martin Sherman, Kathy Rose and David Rose.
The show must go on, but the clothes must come off. taglines


Laura Henderson

  • (After seeing him naked) Why Mr Van Damm, you are Jewish!
  • You men certainly do get yourselves into such a state over the "midlands"!
  • My husband put me on top of the cupboard once. You have so much in common.
  • Are you American? Strange people, lovely manners.
  • And if we cause too many people to congregate in the street, who gives a fiddler's fuck?
  • But I've told all my friends, that I'm helping to build a home for future bastards!
  • You needn't worry. Our lighting will be so subtle, the disputed area [the female genitalia] will be barely visible. And anyway, we'll have a barber!
  • Tomorrow, we have auditions! Isn't that exciting? People come in to entertain us, and we say either stick around or buzz off!
  • My dear, you must never interrupt a perfectly good argument!
  • Showbusiness is full of Jewish people. One must make do!
  • As you know, these are difficult times. So many of our delightful variety performers have been forced onto the milkline.



  • "The show must go on, but the clothes must come off."

External links

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