Mrs Henderson Presents (2005) Movie Script

Forasmuch as it has pleased
Almighty God of his great mercy,
to take unto himself the soul
of our dear brother here departed...
...we therefore commit his body
to the ground... to earth,
ashes to ashes...
...dust to dust.
So sorry, my dear Mrs Henderson.
Your husband
was a great friend to my country.
That's so kind of you.
Please join us at the house
for a small luncheon in his honour.
Thank you so much, Leslie...
but I think I'll take my own car.
I know that Robert would want me to be
available to help you in any way.
Thank you so much.
- He was an estimable man.
- Yes. Yes.
And a very dangerous
business competitor.
Oh. Please.
Excuse me.
I am bored with widowhood.
My dear,
you've just scratched the surface.
I have to smile at everybody.
I've never had to do that.
In India, there were always people
to look down on.
People are simply being sympathetic.
After all, you have lost your husband.
I didn't mislay him.
It was most inconsiderate
of Robert to die.
What on earth
am I supposed to do now?
The first rule of widowhood, my dear -
important conversations occur at lunch.
It's really not so bad.
Widows are allowed hobbies.
- Hobbies?
- Yes.
- Embroidery. Things like that.
- Are you mad?
I graduated to weaving.
- Would you care to see my tapestries?
- I'd rather drink ink.
Committees are good, of course.
I serve on quite a few.
Once your husband dies,
it's quite permissible to help the poor.
And now there's no-one
to stop you buying things.
Also, of course, there's
a great deal of time for lovers.
- Margot, I'm nearly 70.
- That's true.
But you're also very rich.
The one cancels out the other.
I don't know anything
about embroidery.
Ow! Oh!
Now, I believe we may call it a refuge.
Certainly we do not want any term
alluding to unwed mothers in the title.
Nor do we wish for the public to know
the purpose of the house.
But I've told all my friends I'm helping
to build a home for future bastards.
- Home, madam?
- I need some fresh air. Let's drive.
Yes, madam.
I think I should see Alec.
Hello, Alec.
Let's return to London, please.
I'd rather like to visit
old Windmill Street again.
Good day, madam.
- Mind your back.
- Oh!
- Oh, Laura, what on earth?
- Margo.
Renovations, dear.
- But it's a...
- Theatre.
It's a theatre. Isn't it delicious?
- I own it.
- Own it?
You told me now there was no-one
to stop me from buying things,
so I bought a theatre.
I meant bracelets and earrings.
What on earth are you going to do
with a theatre?
Well, I thought music hall, or - what do
they call it in America - vaudeville?
Actually, I haven't thought about it.
Oh, dear.
What am I going to do with it?
Clearly you need someone
to run it for you.
Oh, you think?
Oh, I knew you'd give me
sensible advice.
But who?
Well, that's an easy assignment.
I know just the man.
He's out of work at the moment,
but he's very good at running theatres.
I can't imagine where she is.
She was meant to be here
20 minutes ago.
...that's that, then.
I can't hang around here all morning.
I've an important meeting to go to.
- I'm sorry, old chum...
- Oh, he was terribly ill in the car.
Nerves, I imagine. Little sweet!
Hello, Leslie.
- Hello.
Whoon earth are you?
- This is Vivian Van Damm.
- Don't be silly.
That's not a British name.
In actual fact,
my father's a lawyer in Bishopsgate.
Although some of his ancestors
are from Holland.
- Oh, dear God, you're Jewish!
- As it happens, I'm not.
Well, of course you are, dear.
Just look at yourself.
The show business is filled with Jewish
people, isn't it? One must make do.
We haven't met. I'm Laura Henderson.
Yes, I imagined you were.
You're 20 minutes late,
and you're rude.
- Perhaps he's the wrong man.
- No, I don't think so.
Where are you going?
Leslie, where is he off to? Do stop him.
I'm here tooffer you a position!
You can't offer me a position
if I'm walking out on you.
But that's why I'm offering it, dear.
You've got gumption.
Oh, don't you adore that word?
And you're smoking a cigar.
Anyone who runs my theatre
must smoke a cigar.
It's so manly. And so...
I have a theatre.
I have a theatre.
It's just sitting there,
waiting for a brilliant manager
to come and turn it into
a commercial proposition.
A manager who might bring
some enjoyment and amusement
back into the West End.
A manager with vision and courage.
And if that isn't you,
then my intuition has failed me.
So, by all means, hurry off,
Mr Damm Van.
Van Damm.
Oh, if you insist, dear. If you insist.
Whose idea was it to gut the building?
- Mine.
- Well, well.
There should be a sign saying
Windmill Theatre. Up there. See?
You're going to retain the name?
Well, I find it helps your driver
if the theatre is named after the street.
What do you know
about the theatre business?
Almost nothing.
I have to have total control
of the production side. Is that clear?
All artistic decisions are mine.
You may voice an opinion, if you must,
but I have the final say.
- Understood?
- Of course.
I think we'll make a splendid team.
Let's go and sit down
in that charming little caf.
I'm sure its business will improve
when our musical revue opens.
Who said we were doing
a musical revue?
Well, I assumed.
All those decisions are mine.
That's perfect. Just there.
No. No, no, no. Come back.
Come back to the middle.
Fine. I've had an idea. Let's go inside.
It is a radical idea.
Oh, jolly good. What is it?
Non-stop performances.
- Non-stop?
- Yes.
Instead of two shows a day,
we run our show all day long.
Five or six performances a day,
one after another.
It's never been done in England before.
Every theatre here
is exactly like every other theatre.
No-one is attempting anything new.
It's good to stir things up,
don't you think?
We'd be a sensation.
I've no idea what you're on about,
but I do admire passion.
Yes, well... what else is there?
How much will this experiment cost?
I mean,
what do I stand to lose if it fails?
Well, anything up to er... 10,000.
What fun!
I'm in a sporting mood today,
Mr Van Damm. It must be the weather.
- And what'll we do?
- A musical revue.
What will we call it?
Well, I thought Revudeville.
Oh, yes!
That's lovely.
Ladies and gentlemen...
...I've invited you here this evening
to sip a bit of sherry -
I'm told cocktail parties
are out-of-date -
and to announce
the most amusing news.
The Windmill Theatre
will open on February 3rd,
with the most revolutionary programme
ever seen in England.
In this enterprise, I shall be carrying on
the work of my late husband,
who spent a great deal of time
and money helping stage people,
especially those in the field of variety.
- Is that true?
- She's making it up.
As you well know,
these are difficult times,
so many of our delightful
variety performers
have been forced onto the milk line.
- Bread line.
- Bread line. Bread line.
Revudeville is an attempt to create...
- Employment.
... employment.
for these delightful creatures.
Our productions will be guided
and overseen by our resident genius,
Our brilliant general manager,
who comes to us from Central Europe,
Mr Vivian Van Damm.
We won't be able to work together,
you know that.
You're a perfect match.
So, you found yourself a continental.
Nonsense. He's as English as you or I.
But he's terribly alive, don't you think?
It's just something one can sense.
- Laura, you have an infatuation.
- Oh, don't be ridiculous.
It's the show business I'm attracted to.
Tomorrow we have auditions!
Isn't that exciting?
People come in and entertain us
and we say either
"stick around" or "buzz off. "
- Thank you, that'll do.
Poor thing.
- Next!
- My dear, would you wait over there?
Mr Van Damm, I spent many years
in the Far East with my husband
witnessing what one might call
pagan rituals,
but I've never seen anything
as barbaric as this.
Welcome to the theatre.
Very nice, dear.
Buy yourself a decent meal.
Who's the young man at the back?
Ssh! Concentrate on the auditions.
We'll have him.
We will?
We will.
Why do you keep looking at that boy?
That boy, as you call him,
was the featured performer at the Pavilion.
We snatched him away.
He can be a big help to me.
He's got excellent taste.
He seems to agree
with all of my choices.
Including these
demented pharaohs?
- Book them.
- Right, VD.
Are you mad?
They're not in the least authentic.
And over, over,
step, shuffle, change. Riff, pick up, toe.
Pick up and five, six, seven, eight.
Pick up, pick up, pick up, pick up again.
Maxie Ford and heads up.
Thank you,
ladies. Change over. Quickly, girls!
See what they're like
from the back of the stalls.
Pay attention to their height.
And over. Step, shuffle and change.
Riff, pick up, toe.
Tap, tap, change, pick up, step,
and round, two, three, four.
Pick up, step, pick up, step,
pick up and change.
Maxie Ford and heads up.
Do you find these women attractive?
- Some of them are very pretty.
- Oh, yes, I can certainly see that.
But... do they intrigue you as a man?
- I have other inclinations.
- Oh.
Oh! Oh, how delicious!
And use your backs.
Yes, girls. Next group.
And use your back, girls.
Yes! Last group.
But Mr Van Damm seems to have
an intense appreciation, doesn't he?
Other girls, ready. And!
He's practically sniffing them.
And last group.
- Some of these girls are very good.
- Indeed.
I'm going to call our chorus
The Millerettes.
- Millerettes?
- Mill, as in Windmill.
- What's the "er" for?
- What?
Millerettes. It should be Millettes.
The "er" clogs it up.
- Millettes doesn't scan.
- But it's accurate.
It doesn't sound right.
Millerettes sounds like a man
named Miller has a chorus line.
We're doing a vaudeville,
not a dictionary.
It isn't correct English!
Millerettes is a good name.
And it's not your decision.
In fact, it's got nothing to do with you.
In fact, you shouldn't be in the theatre
until dress rehearsal.
- In fact, I'm going to ban you!
- Don't you dare!
- I'm banning you from all auditions.
- You haven't the right.
- I can do anything I please.
- I shall cancel the opening.
- This show will not goon!
- Indeed.
They're ready to start again, VD.
My dear, you must never interrupt
a perfectly good argument.
- I've lost my train of thought.
- So have I.
Come on.
Mustn't keep The Millerettes waiting.
Oh, that name's intolerable.
It suggests midgets
working in a factory.
Millettes sounds like
a medical condition.
Thank you, Mr Van Damm.
Thank you, Mrs Henderson.
Stop thanking each other.
Let's find some champagne.
Oh, what a wonderful hobby, my dear.
I wonder if there are
any more theatres for sale.
I don't understand.
We were such a success.
And then everyone copied us.
- You're telling me we're a disaster?
- Here's the accounts.
You're losing a fortune.
You mean you can be a triumph
one week and a disaster the next?
I'm not certain it's worth going on.
Oh, you people make me weary!
You've no courage.
What I say is, stick a thing out
and it will come right.
I'm trying to save your finances.
I don't need your protection,
thank you very much.
We've put on good shows, but they're
obviously not daring enough.
Why don't we get rid of the clothes?
Let's have naked girls.
Don't you think?
Now, this has been on my mind
for some time.
I never dared mention it.
I too lack courage, it seems.
Now, what I propose is that we have
nude women in Revudeville.
As they do in Paris.
At our namesake, the Moulin Rouge,
for instance.
Oh, Baby, we'll find you some milk.
Paris, after all, is just filled with
naked women wearing bananas,
and dare I say, making everyone else
go bananas in return.
- Do keep up, Mr Van Damm.
- Yes.
It would be innovative
and draw the crowds.
I would make back all of my money.
You, I imagine, would enjoy yourself,
being surrounded by countless breasts,
and we'd all be happy.
What you're suggesting
isn't possible.
That kind of thing
isn't done here.
Nudity? In England?
You tend towards safety sometimes,
Mr Van Damm.
You're rather bourgeois.
I do mean that in a kind way.
But I suspect it's not advisable
in the show business.
What you're forgetting is we need
a licence from the Lord Chamberlain
for whatever we put on the stage.
He'll never approve it.
- The Lord Chamberlain?
- Yes, The Lord Chamberlain.
What, Tommy? Little Tommy Baring?
Oh, don't be silly!
I have, of course,
taken that into account.
He's a very sweet man.
He and his rather dreary wife
are on holiday in France,
but as soon as he returns,
I'll throw a fly at him.
That's a fisherman's term, dear.
It has to do with hooking a trout.
You do lead a narrow life.
Meanwhile, do begin work
on our marvellous new idea.
Without permission?
Oh! We've found your milk!
Mrs Henderson's request is,
of course, entirely out of order.
Of course. I'm well aware of that.
- Oh, Tommy!
- Laura, how wonderful to see you.
- You don't look a day older.
- What a touching little lie.
I do know a bit about why you're here,
you know.
- Oh?
- Hm.
I find that lines have to be drawn
somewhere, my dear Laura,
and nudity
is on the wrong side of the divide.
I have problems enough
with the length of skirts.
I've had to have inches added to them
for the new Offenbach production.
Well, we won't have that problem
as we won't have skirts.
Sir? If I may?
We have very strict rules
in these areas, Mrs Henderson.
Oh, this office is so stuffy.
Why don't we take a bit of a walk?
- Sir?
- A walk. Yes. Lovely.
Why didn't you return to India?
I was only ever Robert's wife in India.
It seemed a bit absurd
without a Robert.
Now I find it most amusing to run
a variety show, and I'll tell you why.
Robert took me to music hall
quite often - he was fond of them -
On condition that I stayed behind the
curtain in a box and was never visible.
In those days, it was considered
terribly improper
for a married woman
to be seen at a music hall.
But times have moved on.
And we must move with them,
mustn't we?
Oh, look! A tent!
It's unusual to see a tent in the park.
Quite so.
I had it constructed this morning.
Did you obtain a licence?
Oh, come inside, you old fogey.
I've prepared lunch.
But the be-all and end-all, finally,
is that they are naked.
Like paintings. In a museum.
These sandwiches
are particularly good.
It's an excellent season for salmon.
We haven't exactly reached
salmon season yet.
Tommy, you're so literal.
You're thinking bosoms,
but I'm thinking breasts.
- What is the difference?
- The difference is in your soul.
- Cheese?
- Thank you.
Of course, paintings in a museum
are still, are they not?
The figures do not move.
I suppose there's something in that.
Mm, this cheese is very good indeed.
If the girls did not move...
Then one might make a direct corollary
with an art gallery.
I can perhaps see the possibility
of some artistic merit.
- They never move?
- Never.
Yes, that would be like a museum.
Which was, my dear, your suggestion,
so you must be very pleased.
I'm warming to the idea.
- My secretary would be appalled...
- More wine?
Ah, yes, thank you.
Now, what about...
forgive me... the foliage?
You know... beneath the...
- Beneath what? Try the brie.
- Thank you.
- Beneath...
- Flown in from France.
- Excellent. The foliage beneath the...
- My husband was very fond of it.
- Of what?
- This particular cheese.
My dear, I am attempting to address
the disagreeable and somewhat
sordid topic of the pudendum.
- What on earth is that?
- Good heavens, woman!
- Have some more wine.
- The female part.
Oh! The pussy!
Why didn't you say?
I had not expected you, of all people,
to use such language.
That word was popular
in the mid-nineteenth century.
Not everyone speaks Latin, you know.
Then I'd prefer you refer to it as...
the midlands.
Oh, dear.
You men do get into such a state
about the midlands, don't you?
Well, you needn't worry.
Our lighting will be so subtle,
the disputed area will be barely visible.
Anyway, we'll have a barber.
You are the most exasperating woman!
You always were.
I take that to mean
you'll permit us to have a go.
As long as no-one moves, yes.
I reserve final judgment...
until opening night.
I'm delighted, dear ladies, that you all
wish to be a part of our endeavour.
Thank you very much.
- Saliva.
- Behave!
I've never realised
how similar breasts are to shoes.
- What do you mean?
- They come in so many sizes.
I've always found them
rather overrated, myself.
Well, you're not a man.
All right, ladies. Off you go.
What do you make of her?
- She's beautiful.
- Yes.
But the nipples...
Too large?
They're not British.
Could be Italian.
We must have British nipples.
And how about her?
The right one's bigger than the left.
Fried eggs.
Thank you very much. Could you all
please wait in the wings? Thank you.
- What, basically, are you looking for?
- Personality.
Something in their smile, their eyes.
Well, I suggest you start looking
in their faces.
Yes, of course!
We're looking at the wrong kind of girl.
We shouldn't have theatricals.
- Maggie, make a note.
- My dear?
Bertie and I
are going to tour the countryside
and discover some English roses.
Oh, good!
Now you're getting the hang of it.
It's been an unsuccessful trip,
my friend.
What I'm looking for is... personality.
Youth. Beauty.
Certainly not talent.
Anyone can have talent.
And they must be well brought up.
I think many of the young women
we've been seeing
come from
rather awkward backgrounds.
Shine the light on the water!
Don't panic! The young fellow's
a dancer. Excellent coordination.
That's it. Pull her... That's it.
Come on. There we go. There you are.
- You're all right.
- Let me see.
Oh, my God!
I'm so sorry. I'm so embarrassed.
I didn't mean to cause any trouble.
No need to be embarrassed.
You've found a knight.
Two knights, in shining armour.
My God! What a beautiful smile!
Have you ever considered
going on the stage?
You moved.
- She mustn't move!
- I'm sorry, Mr Van Damm.
The law insists
that you be absolutely still.
- Why don't we take a break?
- Yes, good idea.
Rest your arms, girls.
Get the circulation going.
- There's er... teacups and...
- Tea.
...tea just downstairs.
Oh! Oh, it's so sweet!
You're perched in the orchestra pit
like little birds.
It feels safe down here.
- Are you all right?
- Yes, thank you. My arm went numb.
I would sometimes see people in India
standing still for hours on end, my dear.
They were called fakirs.
It was all rather spiritual.
Oh, I see.
You must think yourself
onto a higher plane.
We'd all like to be on a higher plane
now, Mrs Henderson.
Preferably flying over the Channel.
- Oh, you're the one that was...
- Drowning.
- Come on.
- I like that girl you ran over.
Why don't you and the dog have a look
at the programme proofs in the office?
- You're trying to get rid of us.
- It's a delicate time.
All the more reason for
a motherly presence.
Take Mrs Henderson to the office.
- Out!
- Well, of course.
You're in charge.
Time for you to disrobe.
Do we have to do it now,
Mr Van Damm?
- Well, when else?
- I was just asking.
- Should have left you in the water.
- Come on, girls, let's do it.
I can't!
Where's she going?
- She can't face it.
What's wrong with everybody?
I'm sorry, Mr Van Damm.
There's no work outside.
I just thought, well it's a job.
All of my friends are starving.
I was... lucky to have employment.
You can't imagine what it feels like,
just standing there.
Not even my boyfriend
has seen me naked.
And we've been to bed and everything.
It's like it's... medical.
Do you think... I would ever subject you
to anything improper or tawdry?
I am enabling you to earn an honest
salary in this most difficult of times.
After a hard week's work, you can take
home enough to maintain your home,
help out your parents
and even save a little bit for the future.
And all you have to do
is display certain blessings
you received from the Lord.
Why do you think God gave you
all your bits and pieces?
So that you might be
ashamed of them?
So that you might hide them away?
Isn't great art, after all,
a celebration of nature?
- That's what this is.
- Art?
You are the Venus de Milo,
the Mona Lisa...
The Mona Lisa wore a dress.
Some do, some don't.
Tomorrow, we'll go to the museum
and look at some paintings.
Now, he was inspired.
Inspired by God.
If I'm placing a weighty burden
on your shoulders,
then I know you have
the moral strength to carry it.
Why don't we try it again?
All right?
I'll see you on the stage.
Come on, girls,
let's give it a go.
I don't fancy working
in my father's chemist.
Art. Art.
Actually, there is a draught in here,
Mr Van Damm.
You expect that in a theatre.
You expect draughts.
- But what happens if we catch cold?
- Bertie!
Get someone to close the doors
and check all the windows, will you?
Thank you. All right?
- Yes, thank you.
Does everyone have to watch us?
- Who?
- Well, them.
You're going to have
an entire audience watching you.
Yes, but they'll be strangers.
And they won't be standing so close...
will they?
- We can hear them breathing.
- A man has to breathe.
Heavy breathing.
After all, it doesn't seem fair for them
to be dressed when we're not.
Okey-doke. I know what to do.
Come on, gentlemen. Come on.
You too.
- What?
- Fair is fair.
Let's make the ladies comfortable.
Come on.
You too, Mr Van Damm.
Don't be ridiculous. Someone has to
maintain authority here.
- Take your clothes off, please.
- No.
Off! Off! Off!
Off! Off! Off! Off! Off! Off!
Off! Off! Off! Off!
All right! All right!
Bloody childish!
Mrs Henderson. Mrs Henderson!
Why, Mr Van Damm... are Jewish!
- I think I saw a priest in the audience.
- Oh, stop it! You're hallucinating!
- Everyone looked so rich.
- Oh, I hope so.
When I take off my clothes,
I close my eyes and think,
"This will bring me champagne. "
I think, "One more day
and it hasn't happened yet. "
Oh, my God!
I've brought
the Lord Chamberlain.
He felt he had to say a few words
of encouragement to you.
Isn't that delicious?
Well done.
Well done. I...
May I be... permitted to say...
...that... Oh, good heavens!
Good heavens! I...
What an artistic enterprise er...
you have um...
A testament, really, to the British p...
- It's a magical evening.
- Hm?
I quite understand
what you were feeling.
I myself have exhibited my breasts.
I was at a party in Antibes
with The Duchess of Denby
and Countess Volpe,
and we took off our blouses -
in private, of course -
and looked at each other's titties.
My, how we laughed!
The Lord Chamberlain
was very taken with you, my dear.
- Mrs Henderson.
- Mr Van Damm. Quite an evening.
The Lord Chamberlain
was very pleased.
I wanted you to meet Natalie.
- Natalie?
- My wife.
Vivian's spoken about you sooften,
I just feel that I know you.
Well... I certainly don't know you!
Excuse me.
You can be rude to me,
but not to my wife!
What wife?
When did you acquire a wife?
- Why haven't you told us?
- What do you mean?
You never mentioned her.
I believe a figure of authority
must maintain a sense of privacy.
Good heavens! A wife!
What exactly is the problem?
Whoon earth said
there was a problem?
Fine. Have a wife, if you insist.
Just don't let her interfere
with any of your duties.
- Why would she do that?
- That's what wives do.
That's their purpose. I know.
I was a wife.
I interfered all the time.
So sack me, then!
If you're unhappy with me,
just say it and I'll leave!
But don't you dare ever, ever
talk to my wife like that again!
Oh, don't you worry.
I'll keep my eye on you.
You do that.
I hope you realise I will never, ever,
ever set foot in this theatre again!
You two behave
like an old married couple.
Well, it seems
that would make him a bigamist.
Champagne, then?
It is rather as I thought.
Your heart has stirred.
Then I must consult a physician.
This should have been
such a pleasant night.
- I want you to flank her.
- Flank her?
- Stand either side of her.
- Oh.
Aren't I in silhouette, like in the picture?
- Silhouette.
- Silhouette, Harry!
- And the sun must rise behind you.
- Orange.
We see the rays of the sun,
like in the picture.
A new dawn over the New World.
Goody, goody.
Goody, goody.
Goody, goody.
And now...
- How...
... do you do?
Do something!
How will I explain this
to the Lord Chamberlain?
Coming through!
Excuse me, Mr Van Damm. Sorry.
I forgot my fin.
It'll have to be tighter than that.
- Good afternoon, Doris.
- Afternoon.
- How's your mother?
- She's fine, thank you.
Have you been writing
to her every week?
Yes. She told me to tell you
she's very disappointed I'm a starfish.
- She thinks I should be a mermaid.
- Ah. I'll send her a note.
- And who have we here?
- Catherine the Great.
Have you forgotten
the tableau of the wars?
Come along, Mr Van Damm.
You might show a bit more respect.
- I think I should have...
... left you in the water.
- Afternoon, girls. How are you?
- Better now, Mr Van Damm.
- Was something wrong?
- My bum cheeks went numb.
She was leaning arse over backwards.
In the Alaskan tableau, of course.
All that ice.
But Rupert soon got
the blood flowing!
- Who's Rupert?
- Well you might ask.
Behave yourself!
We must be cautious
about too much frivolity.
The Windmill
is a very serious business!
Yes, Mr Van Damm.
- Do I give it to the students again, sir?
- Mr Van Damm.
At your own discretion, dear boy.
It's beastly.
I can't walk into my own theatre.
I hear wonderful things
about the new performances
and I'm missing all the fun.
You did say you would never set foot
in the The Windmill again.
Quite right.
The man's a monster.
I want nothing to do with him.
You're very much like
my granddaughter
who moans about the boy
she has her eye on.
Adolescents and women in their
eighth decade are strikingly similar.
You obviously require a battle plan.
My second husband, the General,
always advocated
attacking from the rear,
which, although it did nothing
to enhance our marriage,
did bring him some success
on the field.
Just slip in there, as it were,
and establish your beachhead.
Excuse us!
This is a private dressing room.
It's only me.
I'm sorry, but I did not want to be seen
in the theatre.
Oh, I have missed your company.
I thought I'd just drop by
to see if you needed anything.
Actually, if this may be our secret -
Mr um... Whatshisname
doesn't know I'm here.
We're fine, thank you, Mrs Henderson.
My poor dear, I'm having some cheese
sent up to you.
- Cheese?
- I'm not convinced you eat enough.
Yes, it's terribly sad.
She's just skin and bones.
Shut up! I weigh exactly what I weighed
the day I started this job, no less.
Something's wrong.
She won't eat chocolate truffles.
- She's so very, very head-girl.
- So sensible!
You see, it's unanimous.
You're positively scrawny!
You may laugh, but I know men.
Men look at bosoms, my dear,
but I notice bones.
No-one will notice.
Now, you must promise to let me know
if you have any complaints
or problems.
I mean, does Mr Van Damm treat...
Oh, my dear!
I wore a similar wig to a ball in Delhi.
Didn't look nearly as becoming
as it does on you.
Thank you, Mrs Henderson.
You remind me a bit of myself
at that time.
- Not too thin?
- Oh, you'd be surprised.
Now, remember not to tell anyone
I've been here.
Of course not. It's just between us girls.
- You all get on rather well, don't you?
- Yes, we're like a family.
There hasn't been
any improper behaviour?
- From Mr Van Damm, that is.
- He's very good to us, Mrs Henderson.
He's like a father.
If fathers were nice.
- He treats us as what we are.
- And what is that?
I have seemingly handed him
a kingdom.
Complete with harem.
Then, my dear,
you must infiltrate.
Like a delicious,
if overripe, Mata Hari.
Might I propose subterfuge?
Good afternoon.
- Good afternoon.
- Good afternoon.
Good afternoon.
Amazing. We get all kinds.
I have a very odd feeling, VD.
What I really need
is a rubber trumpet. Yes.
I've had an offer to join a rubber band!
Please don't do this!
Mrs Henderson, you are a fraud!
Oh. Oh!
Don't you dare manhandle me!
- Make a fool of yourself, if you must...
- Mr Van Damm!
...but not of me!
- No! Argh!
What on earth do you think
you were doing?
I simply want to make sure
you are doing your job properly.
It was most unpleasant of you
to grab my hairpiece.
That's made of authentic
Chinese hair!
Well, now you'll have some time
to calm down
and examine your behaviour.
My husband put me
on top of a cupboard once.
You have so much in common.
I'd like you to behave.
No doubt your husband said that to you
as well.
Oh, Mr Van Damm...
...I just can't help myself.
Well... cheerio, then.
No! Don't you dare leave me here!
No, don't you dare!
Don't you dare leave me!
This act's not half bad.
Thank you... very much.
You can't have an animal on stage
with naked women.
Yes, I see that.
It's a shame.
- I've got the new song.
Let's hear it.
- What?
# The girl in the little green hat
You better see for yourself.
Hi, Mrs Henderson!
Try the river. It's Tuesday.
- Get me a taxi.
- Yes, VD.
- Tea?
- Yes, please. To take away.
We need a lot of caffeine.
We're exhausted.
You're exhausted?
All you girls do is just stand there.
And that, I am told,
is the definition of a star.
This has got to stop!
We're running a serious theatre.
The entire West End is laughing at us.
I haven't worked for years
to achieve a position of respect
Only to be perceived as a joke!
If all you want to be is a dilettante,
take your money and go someplace else!
I can't... hear you!
I'm not simply frivolous, you know.
And I don't ever, ever
want to be taken for granted.
Actually, I wished to ascertain
that artists who audition for us
are being treated
with the proper respect.
It turns out they are.
I am perfectly satisfied.
On another matter entirely,
I was thinking about billing.
The programme says
"Mrs Henderson Presents Revudeville. "
It's absolutely charming,
but perhaps unfair.
Shouldn't it be
"Mrs Henderson Presents Revudeville -
a Vivian Van Damm production"?
I rather like that, don't you?
I'm going to have a joyride now.
Isn't that exciting?
I am not a servant!
You can't buy me off
with a piece of billing!
Do you hear? Bloody woman!
Is it well stocked with petrol?
What do you mean?
Do you think
we might make it to France?
I don't think I'll be back for a while.
Hitler invades France
- Mr Van Damm.
Mrs Henderson.
Welcome back.
- Thank you.
Do you mind if I sit here for a while?
Suit yourself.
I'm so sorry, Mr Van Damm.
I imagine... have family.
I can't bear feeling helpless.
I always think
there's something I can do.
But sometimes, of course...
there's nothing.
Champagne, madam?
Don't you feel a bit over-safe?
Caution, my dear, caution.
You know, we're not certain what to do
about the theatres.
- Whatever do you mean?
- They're a frivolous distraction.
Exactly what young soldiers need.
Wouldn't you say?
There are other considerations.
Our intelligence tells us
the Luftwaffe will bomb London.
My dear, my intelligence tells me that.
Then it will be dangerous
for people to congregate, won't it?
Oh, Tommy! Don't be silly!
Congregate underground?
my theatre is beneath street level.
It's the safest place to be.
Now, let's have no more
of these foolish ideas.
Oh, Tommy!
Flres were started agaln last nlght
In the East End.
Londoners awoke after the tenth
consecutlve nlght of bombardment
by the German alr force.
We have a huge challenge before us.
It's up to us, Revudeville,
to fortify London in a way that
sandbags and anti-aircraft cannot do.
They may bomb our city,
destroy our homes,
kill our friends and neighbours,
but through it all,
our show will continue.
We will never stop performing,
and we will never close!
He thinks
he's bloody Winston Churchill.
Some of our family are going.
Called up.
Thank God our Bertie
has a heart murmur.
It may be wise for some of you
to move into the theatre.
We have room,
and because we're underground, we're safe.
Of course, we'll all have our war duties
as well as theatrical ones.
we wlll pitch in and we wlll doour bit.
That was beautifully put,
Mr Van Damm.
I'm sure we will all make
the necessary sacrifices.
Yesterday I wanted to buy a new hat.
I desisted.
I put the money
in National Savings instead.
We shall come through.
Ken said you were up here.
I didn't believe him.
Why ever not?
It's bloody dangerous, that's why!
Come on down.
Oh, dear. Oh, dear.
The aircraft have passed.
Look, you can see them
over the East End.
You're ever so cautious,
Mr Van Damm.
One shouldn't be overly so
at times like these.
Everyone should be cautious.
You don't seem to take war
too seriously, Mrs Henderson.
I wonder what you were like
when you were young.
Rather dashing, I dare say.
And filled with hope.
My mind turns towards young men
these days.
You see, Mr Van Damm,
I take war far more seriously
than you can ever dare imagine.
No, you'll have to cover her
faster than that.
- You need to be a lot faster.
- Those things weigh a ton, Bertie.
Goon. Take five minutes.
No, no, no... get it up.
I just can't lift it higher.
Oh, my dear, how generous.
- My goodness!
- Gin.
Help steel our nerves for the air raids.
It does seem they're no longer bombing
during the tableaux.
Well, that's because Mr Van Damm
sent Hitler our programme.
Professional courtesy between Fhrers.
You're all so energetic and courageous.
We're the only theatre
still playing in the West End.
Then you all goout with the soldiers
after the show. It's admirable.
Oh, but I don't. Well, I never goout.
My dear, why ever not?
Before I started stripping off
for a living, I was always falling in love.
I was hopeless.
Never again.
So I've become a right little priss.
A naked spinster.
And that's the way I like it.
Who would have dreamed
that standing on a stage
without any clothes on
would be the safest place to be?
Could you er... come this way, sir?
Mrs Henderson
would like to speak to you.
Who's the flower for?
The girl inside the fan.
Speak up, dear.
- The girl in the fan.
Oh. Yes.
- How old are you?
- 21.
Too young for her, I suppose.
Come back tomorrow night.
I was always afraid that someday
I'd end up working in a florist shop.
- And now you are.
- I'm getting hay fever.
And who is Paul?
I have no idea.
Are you girls decent?
Oh, good.
I've brought someone.
This is Paul.
Oh. I see. Erm...
Girls, can you er...
- I was... looking forward to...
- Speak up, dear.
Would you mind
if I had a moment alone?
Thank you.
- You've sent all these flowers.
- Don't be foolish, my dear.
I recognised the name of your florist.
He can't afford this sort of thing.
He comes from
a very distinguished family.
- Mrs Henderson!
- Well...
Truth is so prosaic.
He's young. That's all.
And rather well put together,
wouldn't you say?
That face.
He's young.
And in five days he goes to the front.
And he may not come back.
- And it's so lonely out there in the...
- Trenches.
Yes, I know the word.
Books have been written
about the last war,
and I have actually read some of them.
And I suppose he saw me on stage
and fell in love.
Mrs Henderson,
one night my bicycle went off the road
and the next thing I knew,
I was an illusion.
Because that's all we are up there.
But the odd thing is I'm still in
that river, and I want to be rescued.
But not by some drum roll
or applause or a soldier's fantasy.
Oh, dear,
you're such a tiresome generation.
You all want love.
We got along very nicely without it,
thank you very much.
I don't see why that boy's fantasy
is any more foolish than yours.
Oh, damn.
She loved your flowers, dear.
What flowers?
Trouble, boss.
- Is it that bloody woman again?
- No, not this time, VD.
Open up!
Do you want me to
knock the door down?
You'll hurt your shoulder.
Get inside.
You can't do this.
- Why not?
- You're part of our family.
A terrible choice of words.
- What are you talking about?
- I don't want to discuss it.
But you have to tell me what's
behind this. You owe it to me.
My concern for
the aesthetics of Revudeville.
I don't think you want a nude on stage
who is pregnant!
- Oh, Christ!
- 'Scuse me, Mr Van Damm.
We were having
a private discussion.
- We have a quick change.
- Yes.
That was a particularly fine
programme, Mr Van Damm.
- I am pleased I recognised your talent.
- Go back into the theatre.
I do have a few notes
about the comedy routine.
We don't have time for nonsense.
We have a crisis.
Why? Whatever's wrong?
Maureen has just sent me
a letter of resignation.
Don't be ridiculous.
Why would she?
Because she's pregnant.
Two minutes, girls!
- Oh, my dear...
- I need some air.
Look... You can work in the show
as a singer for the next few months.
We'll keep you on salary,
until you...
I can't think clearly. I need some air.
I'm so sorry. Was it?
Well, who else would it be?
He sent me a letter.
After he's demobbed,
he's going back to his girlfriend.
His girlfriend!
They all have girlfriends.
The crazy thing is, I fell for him.
Oh, it's not your fault. I'm a grown girl.
I knew what I was doing.
But he had such a sweet face...
They all have sweet faces.
You live in your own world,
Mrs Henderson.
I'm sorry. Excuse me.
I don't want to say something
I shouldn't.
I need some tea. And some air.
She said, "It's not your fault. "
That can only mean one thing.
- Which is?
- That it Is your fault!
- What have you been up to?
- Nothing.
- Have you been giving advice?
- I don't like these questions.
Excuse me, Mr Van Damm.
I want to take some air as well.
You can't goout, Mrs Henderson.
The sirens went.
We didn't hear anything.
- A few minutes ago.
- Maureen's gone out.
- When?
- Just now.
Why didn't you stop her?
Where's she going?
- For some air.
- No, to tea, she said.
You foolish, foolish woman.
Look what you've done.
I thought, "Yes, well,
she's selfish and rude and eccentric,
but that goes with her class.
I can live with that. "
I was a fool.
You don't know anything
about the real world, do you?
It's not the same.
The boys love it, boss.
I'm from the Lord Chamberlain's office.
This is for you.
We have to close your theatre.
It's causing too many people
to congregate in front of it.
Telephone the newspapers.
Get them down here.
Yes, boss.
I know where to find her.
Tell her to come to the theatre
Mrs Henderson would like to see
Lord Cromer as soon as possible.
Here, at the theatre.
I don't think
the Lord Chamberlain is available...
Mrs Henderson wishes to see him.
Pray, pass the message.
There's nothing I can do.
The theatre is closed.
Manners, manners.
Clear a path, please.
Please, clear a path.
We need to see the girls.
We ain't moving
until you open up the theatre.
- Open up!
- There's nothing I can do.
I see the press are here, Van Damm.
I don't know how they got hold of it, sir.
- Good afternoon, Mrs Henderson.
- Maggie.
This way.
There seems to be a nationwide desire
to keep this theatre open.
Please don't be delusional.
I have learnt in these many years
of dealing with artists
to detest imagination.
Excuse me.
This street must be clear.
It presents a very clear public danger.
I may have to ask the police
to interfere.
I'll talk to them.
What a commotion.
They think the theatre encourages
what they call overcongregating.
It seems that we're too popular.
What, you mean we'd stay open
if we were a failure? How ridiculous!
Listen, everybody.
We have no choice.
The government is forcing us to close.
One more light...
dimming in the heart of London.
He's turning into Winston again.
What Herr Hitler
was unable to do,
Our own leaders
are determined to accomplish.
They are going to close the Windmill!
Oh, really.
Excuse me, excuse me,
would you please let me through?
Excuse me.
Excuse me.
Oh, that's so kind of you. Thank you.
Thank you.
Oh, that's most kind, thank you.
Thank you.
Excuse me. Mr Van Damm.
Hello, everybody.
Um, may I intro... Oh, hello, Tom.
May I introduce myself?
I'm Mrs Henderson.
You might see my name
on the billboard there.
Well, I am that Mrs Henderson,
and I have presented the Windmill
for four years now.
Now, let me tell you why.
Oh, dear, are you able to see me?
Here you are, ma'am.
Oh, that's so sweet.
- Are you American?
- Yes.
Strange people, lovely manners.
...there was a war before this one.
It was meant to end all wars.
I lost my son in that war.
My only son. Alec.
He was 21.
He perished from poison gas,
I believe,
On a field in France.
After - some time after - I went to
his room to clear away his things
and I discovered
the most amazing thing.
What I believe you call
a French postcard.
A photograph of a naked woman.
He'd been hiding it.
And I realised that Alec
had probably gone to his death
without ever seeing...
a woman naked in real life.
Well, I thought
that was the most... awful thing.
When you lose a son in a war,
you do know,
no matter what anyone might say,
that his death has been in vain.
It won't stop others from following.
Other wars, other young men.
Years later,
after my husband had died,
and I was on my own,
I decided to buy a theatre...
and put on a nude revue,
so that boys like Alec...
...would never be
in the same predicament.
As long as the Windmill exists,
there's no need for a sad little postcard
stashed underneath a bed, is there?
Sometimes... my feelings
towards our young men in uniform...
...have led me to foolish actions,
which I do, in my very soul, regret.
But I do know this:
That my desire to present this gift to
our young men has not been wrong.
If we are to ask our youth
to surrender their lives,
then we should not ask them
to surrender joy,
Or the possibility of joy.
And if, along the way,
we cause too many people
to congregate in the street,
who gives a fiddler's fuck?
There. I've said it.
Oh, dear, another air raid.
Don't you think everyone
would be so much safer inside?
Oh, for Christ's sake, Van Damm,
take down that stupid sign
and let your public in.
We Never
I thought so.
You're going to ask me
to come down, aren't you?
I wouldn't dream of it.
Now you know my secrets.
And I know none of yours.
Actually, I think you do.
We have made rather a goof it,
haven't we?
You're a very irritating woman but I
wouldn't have missed this for the world.
- I feel quite the same.
- Mm.
Even though you're
a very irritating man.
So, we'll continue?
I'm game if you are.
- Oh Yes
It passes the time of day.
Let's watch the rest of the show.
You go inside.
I'll stand here for a while.
As you wish.
Would you fancy a dance?
A dance? Where?
Won't it be dangerous?
You're quite right.
I'm a very cautious man. But...
it won't be dangerous. Not Tonight
Just one dance.
- Mr Van Damm.
- Mrs Henderson.
Ow! You've severed my toe.
- Nonsense. I didn't touch it.
- You're rather clumsy.
That's not something
you say to a dancing partner.
You should take lessons
before issuing an invitation.
I'm a very good dancer,
thank you very much.
In India only delicate men
are good dancers.
The ungainly are not so.
Listen, you old battleaxe...
Don't you dare speak to me like that.
Laura Henderson died in 1944. In Her will
she left Windmill Theatre to Vivian Van Damn.