A/V Room









Mrs Henderson Presents - Preview

Preview by: Jack Foley

DAME Judi Dench takes the lead role of an eccentric widow in Mrs Henderson Presents, the new film from British director, Stephen Frears, which is among the films featuring at this year's Toronto Film Festival.

Set in London on the eve of World War II, the film finds Dench as a woman who buys a theatre and turns it into The Windmill, which became renowned for its all-nude revues.

The film co-stars Bob Hoskins and could well place Dame Judi in the running for another Oscar, given its timely release among the contenders.

It is also notable for featuring the film debut of 2001 Pop Idol winner, Will Young, who plays Bertie, the Windmill's star performer.

The film will also include 12 musical numbers, according to some online reports, one of which is called The Babies of the Blitz, which is performed around a pile of rubble topped by gorgeous nudes while Nazi bombs strip the streets of London bare.

Needless to say, the film won't hold back on the nudity and is rumoured to feature full-frontal shots of both male and female members of the cast.


Yet behind all the raunch lies an interesting story that Frears just couldn't resist exploring.

At the age of 70, Laura Henderson (Dench) converted an abandoned Soho cinema into the historic Windmill Theatre and hired the formidable Vivian van Damm (Hoskins) to run it.

The pair were known for their quarrelsome relationship but soon opened Revudeville, which provided a mix of musical revues and vaudeville acts. It became known as the London equivalent of the Moulin Rouge.

Such was the tempestuous nature of their relationship, however, that Ms Henderson frequently had to crash rehearsals by donning disguises, including that of a polar bear, a black man and a Chinese princess, having been banned for being too nosy by van Damm.

But real success eluded them until they started putting nude models into the musical numbers, dodging the city's Draconian censors by ensuring that the showgirls didn't move a muscle on stage.

The Windmill subsequently became a magnet for American GI's during World War II and was the only theatre to remain open during the bombing of London in 1940.

With Frears at the helm, Mrs Henderson Presents promises to offer an intriguing insight into a little-known piece of London's World War Two-era history.

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