Follow TV Tropes


Film / Mrs Henderson Presents

Go To

The show must go on but the clothes must come off.

Mrs Henderson Presents is a 2005 biopic films directed by Stephen Frears and starring Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, Kelly Reilly and Will Young.

The film tells the true story of the Windmill Theatre in London. Eccentric 70-year-old widow and socialite Mrs. Laura Henderson (Dench), buys the theatre and decides to introduce nude shows in it, a move that causes much morality turmoil and Executive Meddling. She finds a loophole in that the nude performers have to remain immobile, so the performances can be considered art, the equivalent of nude works of art in museums. The theatre gains much success, especially when World War II breaks out and London gets bombed during the Blitz. She does this alongside Vivian Van Damm (Hoskins), a veteran theatre manager and Bertie (Young), a singer.


Mrs Henderson Presents provides examples of:

  • Ambiguously Jewish: Played for Laughs with Mrs Henderson repeatedly asking Van Damm if he's Jewish because of his name. It culminates in her seeing him completely naked during a rehearsal show and remarking "Why Mr Van Damm... You ARE Jewish."
  • Cool Old Lady: Mrs. Henderson, an eccentric old lady who dares going against her times' establishment's pretty rigid morality to revolutionize entertainment.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mrs Henderson and Van Damm. Maureen to an extent too.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Or rather, "Dropped a Bomb on Her", "her" being a pregnant Maureen.
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: A playful British soldier who wants to see the girls move has the idea to bring mice into the theatre to scare them. The girls react appropriately, to the audience's amusement.
  • Fanservice: The In-Universe gimmick to attract crowds at the Windmill. Mrs Henderson has the idea to emulate the Parisian cabarets Folies Bergère and Moulin Rouge, which feature shows with nude girls for decades by the late 1930s.
  • Advertisement:
  • Flipping the Bird: After a bomb lands close to the theatre and knocks all the girls off balance, Maureen defiantly sticks two fingers up to the theatre's ceiling.
  • Glamorous Wartime Singer: The singing girls, since the theatre is attended by lots of soldiers from 1940 onwards. Particularly with the song "Babies of the Blitz".
  • Hide Your Lesbians: Defied. When Mrs Henderson asks Bertie if the girls excite him as a man, he answers that he "has other inclinations".
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Maggie. She is on top of almost all the happenings at the Windmill. When Mrs Henderson dresses up in a bearsuit to sneak out of the theatre after being caught, Maggie recognizes her immediately. After she gets away, Maggie instantly tells Van Damm "Try the river, it's Tuesday."
  • Mood Whiplash: Aplenty.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Mrs Henderson's reaction to Maureen's death.
  • My Secret Pregnancy: Defied. Once Maureen finds out she's pregnant, she hands in a resignation notice.
  • Naked People Are Funny: The first time the girls have to take their clothes off, they're reluctant to do so and one of them has a freak-out and runs offstage. After they've gathered their morale, they decided to go ahead but they're still annoyed that there are stagehands, etc. waiting in the wings, until Bertie insists that everyone in the room has to take their clothes off, including the stagehands, and proceeds to do so himself. Vivian holds out but eventually he starts loosening his tie. A few moments later, Mrs Henderson comes in and finds them all completely nude and laughing about it.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Mrs. Henderson's son died in a gas attack during World War I. Part of her motivations to have nude performances at the Windmill Theatre is that her son died without ever seeing a naked girl for real. He only ever saw one on a French postcard he kept in his room.
  • Rousing Speech: The Lord Chamberlain tries to give the girls one after the first nude performance, but is too Distracted by the Sexy to properly form his words.
    • Van Damm also gives one of these to the girls once the war begins, prompting Mrs Henderson to whisper to Bertie "He thinks he's bloody Winston Churchill." (Brought up later when Van Damm gives a speech about the theatre closing and she remarks "He's turning into Winston again.")
  • Shipper on Deck: Mrs Henderson becomes one for Maureen and Paul. It ends badly.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Mrs Henderson and Van Damm. Even at the end as they dance together.
  • Spit Take: The Lord Chamberlain, after Mrs Henderson answers his question about covering the showgirl's lower areas with "Anyway, we'll have a barber."
  • Unusual Euphemism: Played for Laughs. The Lord Chamberlain refers to the showgirl's lower areas with multiple words, until Mrs Henderson finally clarifies with "Oh! The pussy!", prompting a shocked expression from him.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: