Widowed Henry Horatio Hobson (Charles Laughton) is the owner/operator of Hobson’s Boots in Salford in the 1880s.
Henry lives with his three adult daughters, Maggie (Brenda de Banzie), Alice (Daphne Anderson) and Vicky (Prunella Scales), in a flat attached to the shop.
Henry is miserly, dipsomaniacal and tyrannical and will not permit his daughters to date as their sole purpose in life is in service to him and to the shop (although they receive no wages).
When Hobson determines to marry off the two younger daughters but declares Maggie too old for marrying (at 30), she takes it as a challenge. Virtually demanding marriage and a business partnership with her father’s best shoemaker, Willie Mossop (John Mills), she engineers not only her own marriage but that of her sisters, as well.
The crisp black and white photography, courtesy of Jack Hildyard is stunning, beautifully capturing the grimy charm of its Victorian setting, and giving a vivid sense of gritty intimacy to the dank interiors.
Scenes featuring a drunken Hobson are gloriously realised and give rise to one of the films most enduring images, that of Hobson attacking the moon’s reflection in a puddle after an evening at the Moonrakers pub.
Brenda de Banzie