Lady Henderson Presents

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German title Lady Henderson Presents
Original title Mrs. Henderson Presents
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 2005
length 103 minutes
Age rating FSK 6
Director Stephen Frears
script Martin Sherman
production Norma Heyman
music George Fenton
camera Andrew Dunn
cut Lucia Zucchetti

Lady Henderson Presents (original title Mrs. Henderson Presents ) is a comedy film by British director Stephen Frears about the Music Hall / Vaudeville Theater in London's West End in the late 1930s (and its musical revue / variety show) from 2005 . The film is based on an original screenplay by Martin Sherman and was produced by the film studio BBC Films , among others . The German theatrical release was on June 22, 2006.


London , 1937: Resolute Mrs. Laura Henderson returns to her native England after a long stay in India . The 69-year-old, who had to bury her beloved husband a short time ago, soon gets bored in the English metropolis. Laura Henderson is reluctant to spend a quiet and quiet retirement as a well-to-do widow. Her friend Lady Conway advises her to find a hobby. But instead of collecting jewels or doing charitable work, Mrs. Henderson, to the surprise of her friends, buys a run-down theater and has it renovated and expanded as a Windmill Theater in the heart of Soho.

Since the new owner has not the slightest experience in the theater industry, the manager Vivian Van Damm is hired, a true professional in show business, but who cannot really get used to the eccentric and provocative employer. Mrs. Henderson interferes too much in his work, whereupon the autocratic impresario angrily banishes the old lady from the Windmill Theater. But Mrs. Henderson is not so easy to get down and disguised as a geisha and a polar bear, she curiously watches Van Damm's work. The love-hate relationship between the two is always explosive, but it also bears fruit. Van Damms develops the "Revuedeville", a concept for non-stop entertainment. Thus, after a bumpy start, the Windmill Theater is gradually able to gain a foothold in the theater scene.

But when the other London theaters copy Van Damm's idea, it is up to Laura Henderson to find a way out of the misery. She comes up with the idea of ​​luring the audience to the Windmill Theater with naked girls. Contrary to Van Damm's expectations, Mrs. Henderson succeeds in convincing her censor friend, Lord Chamberlain, of her idea with the necessary charm. But he only gives in under one condition. The naked girls are not allowed to move on stage, but can only serve as emotionless and motionless works of art.

Windmill's living pictures become a sensational success, but with the start of World War II and the bombing of London , the government threatens to close all city theaters. Mrs. Henderson fights for the operation of her theater, which mainly serves to encourage the British troops. The eccentric lady is successful and the Windmill Theater is the only theater in London that has been operating continuously since 1940.

History of origin

Screenwriter Martin Sherman drew inspiration from a true story for his script. In 1931 Laura Henderson bought the Palais de Luxe , a small cinema on Great Windmill Street in Soho, London. The house was renovated, remodeled and reopened as a theater called The Windmill on June 22, 1931. The theater was in the red before Mrs. Henderson's new manager Vivian Van Damm had the brilliant idea of establishing a non-stop musical revue in Paris in the style of Folies Bergères .

The show, entitled Revudeville, opened on February 3, 1932. Performances took place daily from 2.30pm to 11pm, and in a few years the Windmill Theater became a fixture on the London scene. The business really flourished when Henderson and Van Damm decided to copy the successful Moulin Rouge in Paris and put naked girls on stage. To temper the censors , the girls had to remain completely emotionless like statues on the stage, in different settings, so-called naked tableaux vivants on topics such as mermaids, Indians, Annie Oakley and Britannia.

The Windmill became the only theater in London that (with the exception of 12 prescribed days from September 4 to 16, 1939) continued its operations throughout the Second World War, including during the heaviest air raids, known as The Blitz , on September 7 1940 to May 11, 1941. During this time the show girls and some actors were housed in the two basement floors of the theater, a circumstance that earned the theater its legendary slogan "We never closed" . After the death of Laura Henderson at the age of 84 in 1944, the theater was owned by Vivian Van Damm and many famous comedians and actors made their first appearances at the Windmill, including Jimmy Edwards , Tony Hancock , Harry Secombe and Peter Sellers . The last Revudeville show was shown in 1964.

For the preparation, screenwriter Martin Sherman visited the Musical Museum in Hammersmith and dealt with any artifacts that had to do with the Windmill Theater. Sherman put over fourteen musical numbers into the final script draft, a fact that posed a challenge to director Stephen Frears as he had never worked with so much music before. In preparation, Frears read books about Arthur Freed , who had arranged musicals such as The Magic Land (1939) or Singin 'in the Rain (1951) for the MGM . For the music, the composer George Fenton was hired, for whom Lady Henderson presents since the drama Bloody Kids in 1979 meant the ninth collaboration with Frears. The studio work took place at Shepperton Studios in Surrey , England. Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire served as an additional backdrop .


Lady Henderson Presents premiered on September 9, 2005 at the Toronto Film Festival . After the film was shown on October 7th at the Chicago International Film Festival and on October 8th at the French Dinard Festival of British Cinema , the comedy opened in British cinemas on November 25th, 2005 .

Stephen Frear's work, which the director himself dubbed a “dramatic comedy with music”, received an ambivalent response from the critics. While the acting performances of the two main actors Judi Dench and Bob Hoskins were praised, Stephen Frear's staging was criticized as too static. The screenplay by Martin Sherman was attributed too few conflicts and insufficiently developed characters alongside those of Laura Henderson and Vivian Van Damm.

The film opened in selected cinemas in New York and Los Angeles on December 9, 2005 and was able to bring in a sum of around 55,000 US dollars on the opening weekend. A nationwide limited theatrical release in the United States took place on December 25, 2005. By May 28, 2006, Lady Henderson played presents in the United States alone more than 11 million US dollars.


source rating
Rotten tomatoes
  • "An absolute pleasure from start to finish." ( Hollywood Reporter )
  • "Just as there will always be England, there will always be a certain type of English film: highly polished entertainment, well-acted, elegantly entertaining and infallible." ( Los Angeles Times )
  • "There's not much to see in 'Mrs. Henderson Presents' outside of the bizarre couple routine, some colorful musical numbers and artful nudity. "( New York Times )
  • "Dench and Hoskins quarrel with each other with a loving bite that helps defuse the sentimentality inherent in the story, and the result is an admittedly insignificant but authentic holiday festivity." ( Time Magazine )
  • “The film gets a boost from the formidable Judi Dench, who makes a bitter version of a formidable woman. But the lack of tangible conflicts or satisfactorily developed characters around them is problematic. "( Variety )


  • Even before Stephen Frear's production, the Windmill Theater was the subject of several film adaptations. In 1945, Rita Hayworth played one of the Windmill girls in the Hollywood film Tonight and Every Night .
  • To get first hand information, some of the original Windmill Girls were invited to meet the filmmakers and cast. Many of them were in their 70s or 80s by now. Among them were Linda Carroll , Charmian Innes and Doris Barry , the latter was employed at the Windmill from 1940 to 1942 and was 92 years old at the time of filming.
  • Will Young plays the supporting role of Berty in his feature film debut. Young started his career in March 2002 as the winner of the first TV talent show Pop Idol , the British counterpart to Germany is looking for the superstar .
  • Lead actor Bob Hoskins co-produced the film with Norma Heyman .


Lady Henderson presented received two nominations for the Academy Awards, which took place on March 5, 2006, including Judi Dench for Best Actress. The film was nominated in three categories at the Golden Globe Awards . Leading actress Judi Dench and the film were beaten by James Mangold's biopic Walk the Line , while supporting actor Bob Hoskins was left behind against George Clooney ( Syriana ). At the presentation of the British Academy Film Awards , which was presented on February 19, Stephen Frear's film was nominated in four categories, but could not prevail against the competition.

Oscar 2006

  • nominated in the categories
    • Best Actress (Judi Dench)
    • Best costumes

British Academy Film Awards 2006

  • nominated in the categories
    • Best Actress (Judi Dench)
    • Best original script
    • Best film score
    • Best costumes

Golden Globe Awards 2006

  • nominated in the categories
    • Best Film - Comedy / Musical
    • Best Actress - Comedy / Musical (Judi Dench)
    • Best Supporting Actor (Bob Hoskins)


British Independent Film Awards 2005

  • nominated in the categories
    • Best British Independent Film
    • Best director
    • Best Actor (Bob Hoskins)
    • Best Actress (Judi Dench)
    • Best Supporting Actress (Kelly Reilly)
    • Most Promising Young Hope (Thelma Barlow)
    • Best script
    • Best technical performance (costumes)

National Board of Review 2005

  • Best acting ensemble

Satellite Awards 2005

  • nominated in the category Best Actress - Comedy / Musical (Judi Dench)

Screen Actors Guild Awards 2006

  • nominated in the category Best Actress (Judi Dench)

Stage musical

A stage musical was created based on the film, which premiered in 2015. See Mrs. Henderson Presents .


  • Horton, Ernest; Van Damm, Vivien: Mrs. Laura Henderson presents Revudeville: a Vivian Van Damm production . London, England? : sn, (C & S [printer?]), 1943. (English reminder pamphlet)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Age rating for Lady Henderson presented . Youth Media Commission .
  2. a b [1] at Rotten Tomatoes , accessed on January 30, 2014
  3. a b [2] at Metacritic , accessed on January 30, 2014
  4. Lady Henderson presents in the Internet Movie Database (English)